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Linda Kleemann

In 2009, the year the Foundation started, I first came to Ghana for my PhD research on pineapple and other tropical fruit supply and exports. I was told by many people in the agricultural sector that Blue Skies is something special. At the time, I didn’t know why, but I was soon to find out. Competitors reported in awe, about the high and consistent quality of the products and strong values lived by Blue Skies staff, and then one day I was honoured to share with my flat mates three litre containers of their fantastic juice, directly picked from the factory.

In 2013, Blue Skies and Waitrose & Partners commissioned an impact study on the economic and social footprint of Blue Skies in Ghana, which I did together with a colleague. Having been an external evaluator for several other organisations, I know the scepticism I am often received with. She doesn’t understand how we work and will therefore criticise us in the wrong way, many people seem to think. And indeed, Anthony told me that he was sceptical about my work too. Nevertheless, Blue Skies opened every possible door for me, agreed to all research standards I wanted to apply and did everything to help me implement my work in the best way. They trusted me to do a quality job, no matter whether the result was in favour of them or not.

Now, in 2019, I am back at Blue Skies for the Foundation anniversary trying to express and elaborate the stories of how it has transformed people. It is hard for me to separate Foundation from business, because they are guided by the same values. I mean this literally: they are not just written on paper, they are lived. One could say: the Foundation funds what makes sense, but is not economically profitable. For me these unique values are: taking what you talk about seriously, trusting and encouraging people and long-term thinking.

Linda Kleemann, April 2019

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