By the time Michael Jones was 16, he knew exactly what he wanted in life: to be on the Inc. 500 list – a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. By the time he was 35, the healthcare company he founded, IPG, had achieved that and more. But what Jones would do after that milestone would change not only his own life, but the lives of people around the globe.
“When I was a teenager, I thought that material success would be the key to a happy life,” said Jones.
His company was worth nearly $40 million and was growing at an astounding rate of 1,300 percent year-over-year. But he would quickly find out that “it didn’t fulfill my deeper desires for purpose and more meaningful work.”
He yearned to create a business less centered on turning profits and more on helping people. So in 2011, Jones made one of the biggest decisions of his life – he would leave his booming healthcare company and search for a way to make a difference.
It was during that sabbatical that Jones remembered a conversation with his father-in-law, a local coffee farmer in Jamaica, about the hardships coffee farmers face because of a disadvantageous pricing system. That system, padded with middlemen along every step of the process, leaves the farmers who grow the coffee earning only pennies on the dollar, and depending on a volatile commodity price set on a global level.
“The coffee industry was broken, and I wanted to fix it,” he said. With that mission in mind, but not knowing how to do it, Jones relied on his entrepreneurial spirit and called on Kenneth Lander, a retired lawyer-turned-farmer living in Costa Rica. Together they created what would become THRIVE Farmers Coffee.
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