The Earth Group is a Certified B Corporation that supports the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) through donations that provide school meals, drinking water and education to children in the most troubled areas of our world.
To date, The Earth Group has helped fund more than 3.6 million meals to young school kids while helping them get an education in places like Tajikistan, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bolivia and the Philippines. The B Corp is dedicated to informing consumers everywhere about the power of their everyday marketplace choices. For example, the simple purchase of a bag of Earth Coffee, one of three consumer products sold by the company, provides a schoolchild with meals for an entire week.
When Earth Group founders Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck met as fellow employees of a ski shop near the Rocky Mountains 14 years ago, they likely never imagined what lay ahead for them as individuals, new business owners or as proud supporters of the WFP.
Just forging this critical relationship with the WFP seemed daunting enough, but the maze-like process took far longer to realize than anyone could imagine. Eventually, they launched their social enterprise onto the large and complex world stage of fighting hunger, providing clean drinking water and building schools for children where none existed before.
It was at this point that Moreau and Chilibeck realized the real work had begun in earnest for their Canadian B Corp based in Edmonton, Alberta. Seeking to confirm that the aid they worked so diligently to fund would actually make the journey to the end-users, they traveled to Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Tajikistan and the Philippines to see for themselves.
As the photos and videos produced from these expeditions clearly testify, Moreau and Chilibeck landed in their natural element, surrounded by the children and co-workers they had been working so hard to support since creating The Earth Group. The expressions on the faces of not only the children and teachers but of Moreau and Chilibeck and the WFP country managers tell a tale of unselfish dedication.
Seeing the Progress
The Earth Group maps its path to success through respect for the cultures they are trying to help. In many of these destinations, it is still frowned upon for female children to attend school. By respecting that posture yet also using the intellectual tools at hand, the company funds projects that often furnish female students with an extra helping of food to take home if they attend school, thereby allowing them to obtain an education, the family to benefit from the food, and the attitudes about females attending school to soften.
The exhilaration of such remote expeditions reached its peak when the duo traveled to the Philippines, arriving in a volatile region where insurgents had blasted grenades and explosives just the day before. Their in-country WFP handlers changed safety tactics at once, and what was scheduled to be a multi-day trip ended up being a shortened-but-packed day of visiting the children in their classes, touring the school facilities, meeting the support staff and then continuing safely out of this troubled zone.
Back home in Edmonton, Moreau and Chilibeck rolled up their sleeves and focused on making their simple products-with-impact list: Fair Trade coffee from Eastern Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America; glacier-sourced drinking water from Whistler, British Columbia, and Rocky Mountain House, Alberta; and organic Alberta-grown teas, available in as many outlets as possible across Canada and around the world. Their online sales are active with their triple bottom line—people, planet, profit—always remains in focus.
The Earth Group obtains its drinking water from Canadian glacier spring sources near the communities of Rocky Mountain House and Whistler, and their low-weight recyclable plastic bottles are landfill biodegradable. The Earth Group is also partnered with and supports Plastic Bank efforts to reduce ocean plastic.
Paying their dues during long negotiations with large corporations, Moreau and Chilibeck have now succeeded in signing major chain stores in Canada such as IKEA, Safeway, Sobeys, Whole Foods, Save On Foods, IGA and Metro. They also launched their product line in Japan, another major feat for any business run by two people, one employee and a group of dedicated volunteers.
Chilibeck is just back from the unrivaled adventure of presenting The Earth Group products in Japan to the largest food and beverage show in Asia called FOODEX. A receptive audience was excited to hear Earth Water is already available in their marketplace, with more Earth Group products sure to follow.
Path to Success
During certification in 2018 as a B Corporation, B Lab’s independent Standards Advisory Council confirmed The Earth Group’s three essentials: 1) social and environmental performance, 2) transparency and 3) accountability.
“B Corps values are synonymous with ours and embedded in our culture, so working toward the certification was both a pleasure and a reminder of being mindful of the numerous ways in which our work affects people and planet.”
And so it goes for these two young Canadian entrepreneurs and their “overnight success,” which has only taken them 14 years of collaboration, dedication, no-pay and near bankruptcy to arrive at a point where they can now see the results of their work. Having the blessings of understanding spouses has made it all possible, plus a bit of luck at critical moments.
Business gurus will tell start-up entrepreneurs timing is everything, and while this adage does have merit, the hard work and determination to succeed cannot be underestimated.
When Moreau and Chilibeck hatched their road map to success in a ski shop near the Rocky Mountains 14 years ago to create The Earth Group, at the same time Ben Cohen and Mal Warwick’s book Values-Driven Business: How to Change the World, Make Money, and Have Fun was synthesizing best practices and socially responsible business goals and laying the foundation for what would become the first B Impact Assessment, a process still used to certify B Corps.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
By The Earth Group
Gregory is a writer, filmmaker, musician and producer. He is the Media Director for The Earth Group and is a transmedia producer for Jean-Michel Cousteau, travel journalist with Natural Geographic, Smithsonian, Michelin Travel, USATODAY, and Penguin.