Doing business without losing ethics

March 11 2019

How can a brand create awareness, set an example and inspire others at the same time? Students and staff at Nyenrode Business University learned the answer to this question and many more during an after-work session on March 7, 2019. Ynzo van Zanten, Choco Evangelist at Tony’s Chocolonely, was the keynote speaker. He told the story of the chocolate brand, from its origins to its mission and dreams for the future, in what proved to be an inspiring talk for all those present.

According to Jessica Peters, Director of Nyenrode Amsterdam, the decision to invite Tony’s Chocolonely made perfect sense: ‘I think it is important to lead by example. I try to do that every day and I think it is our duty to inspire our students to be responsible leaders. By inviting Ynzo van Zanten from Tony Chocolonely at our Nyenrode Amsterdam Campus, we motivate our students to figure out how they want to shape the world they want to live in.’


The chocolate brand feels strongly about this as well, and demonstrates how it formulates its goals. Consequently, financial success is not its primary objective: the brand’s aim is instead to achieve 100% slave-free chocolate worldwide. “At least 30,000 people – including children – are currently working under slavery-like conditions on cocoa plantations in Africa,” Van Zanten explains. The chocolate brand wishes to create awareness in order to combat this. “But the chain isn't transparent. Even a ‘fair trade’ label on a chocolate bar at the supermarket is no guarantee that it’s actually a completely honest product. Cocoa is a mass-produced good, and it is sometimes difficult to trace its origin.”

Van Zanten also says that he doesn’t want to talk about Tony’s USPs. “The less unique we are, the better the lasting result for the cocoa industry will be. We hope that everyone adopts our approach.” Van Zanten is continually amazed by the impact the brand has: “Three years ago, I would have never thought it was possible to become a globally recognized brand.” According to the choco evangelist, the focus in the period ahead will be on internationalization with expansion to countries such as England and the United States.


Van Zanten is clear about the future: the brand will not shy away from a takeover by a major market player. “But it has to be on our terms. That means bringing greater transparency to the chain as well as providing better working conditions for cocoa farmers and educational opportunities for their children.”

Peters ends the session with a few questions to the students to talk about afterwards:

‘Think about how you can act as a responsible leader. How does this story inspire you? How are you going to change the world?’

See the video of the After Work Session below.

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