Big Tree Farms is a vertically integrated impact brand with a focus on unique ingredients from South-East Asia. Our supply chains are committed to direct transparent trade with smallholder producers of coconut and cacao.
Big Tree Farms, now Indonesia’s largest organic food company, operating SE Asia’s largest organic integrated supply chain, was started in 2003 as a small-scale organic farming training venture and has developed into a vertically integrated social enterprise focused on production and export of food products for retail and ingredient channels globally. Our corporate mission is to inspire beneficial change through the creation of innovative and health-forward food products that provide sustainable health, economy and environment to our customers, farmer/suppliers and company community.
Vision: To make Big Tree Farms the most highly regarded vertically integrated producer of organic coconut and cacao products and ingredients.
Mission: To produce innovative products with best in class quality that provides sustainable health, environment and economy to our customers, farmers and community.
Guiding Principles: Innovation, Quality, Health, Social Impact and Environmental Benefit.
Values: Organic, Fair Trade, NON-GMO, Authenticity, Integrity, Transparency and Traceability.
The term “sustainability” is an objective belief with a very subjective definition. Big Tree Farms believes that true sustainability is a continual cycle of assessment, metric building, action and more assessment. It is an on-going practice of self-reflection to ensure our enterprise is investigating all aspects of our processes, in order to move towards doing what we do, better. This holistic approach to conducting commerce in this modern age is very complex, as we are dependent on trans-global logistics, computers, air travel and petroleum-based packaging. Yet, it is this challenge that engages us to work harder as individuals, as a company and as a collaborate industry.
Big Tree Farms, while adhering to 3rd party environmental, fair trade and social certification standards, also conducts internal audits using a proprietary set of metrics, ensuring our farmer partners and supply chains are continually improving and our farmer partner’s “gross happiness factor” is further cultivated. Happiness is the ultimate baseline that defines quality of life. We also take into account standards of living such as, potable water, condition of dwelling, access to and regular schooling for children and general health of the community.
We also employ risk mitigation/management metrics that allow us to determine the possible pitfalls a potential supply chain may have at the outset or unfold during the course of our community involvement. This includes long-term viability of the supply chain, health of the soil, health and condition of the crops being grown and social stability of the region possible supply chains are located. Through these metrics, we will determine best practices to assist the community and farmers to amend the soil, plant different crops to increase income and bolster community endeavors.
Over the course of our history, we have teamed up with international government and non-governmental development organizations. To this day, Big Tree Farms is the chosen go-to private enterprise to develop successful and long lasting viable supply chains in Indonesia.
Big Tree Farms is led by CO-CEOs Ben Ripple and Frederick Schilling; proven entrepreneurs who are committed to innovation, sustainability and building profitable companies while upholding triple bottom line ideals. Ben, fluent in the Indonesian language, is focused primarily on Operations, Supply Chain and Product Development and is based in Bali. Frederick is based in the United States and is primarily focused on Brand/Product Development and Sales/Marketing. In April 2013, Jeremiah Ridenour joined Big Tree Farms to serve as the Director of Operations for PT Bening (Big Tree Farms’ wholly owned Indonesian subsidiary). Later in the same year, Antonius Harijanto joined PT Bening as Director of Finance. Brief Bios follow:
Big Tree Farms was founded by husband and wife team Ben and Blair Ripple in July 2003. The initial focus of the company was on the introduction and dissemination of modern day organic farming techniques and marketing systems. During the next 3 years, focus shifted to expanding procurement from the original focus of fresh produce to a wider range of artisanal ingredients sourced from around the Indonesian archipelago. These products, along with the unique model of entrepreneur-driven sustainable development, attracted the attention of international specialty food markets, winning multiple awards, extensive media recognition and international public speaking engagements. Ben speaks fluent Indonesian and has, during the twelve years of his full-time tenure consulted with numerous governmental and non-governmental institutions including the US Embassy, USAID and even the President of Indonesia (2003-2004).
Founder of the world’s most innovative leading organic chocolate brand, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Frederick Schilling successfully sold the company to Hershey’s within 5 years of pouring his first bar. He is also the co-founder of AMMA Chocolate, Brazil’s leading premium chocolate manufacturer. Frederick is a founding member of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, has sat on the board of the World Cocoa Foundation and spoken at numerous conferences and colleges, including Harvard Business School and Stanford’s Business School’s forum on Sustainable Supply Chains. He has been featured in numerous articles, including a feature story in the New Yorker. As a previous client of Big Tree Farms, Frederick was attentive to the potential for Big Tree Farms to become a leading vertically-integrated company through its proprietary supply chains and management systems. He became a partner in 2007.
Jeremiah has founded several vegetarian and organic food companies pioneering in technology transfer of Asian traditional food, moving from bench level to pilot, to batch, to automated production. One of these companies was Wildwood Natural Foods, where he served as CEO from 1985 to 2004. Wildwood is a pioneer in certified organic commodities procurement and vertical integration from farm gate certified organic raw materials, manufacturing, and fresh DSD distribution, coupled with authentic values-based marketing. Jeremiah has also served on the Board of Directors of the Ecological Farming Association for the past 6 years. The EFA is a 32 year old non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic and sustainable farming methods.
Anton comes to Big Tree Farms from a 20-year career in cost accounting and Management Accounting with global food manufacturing giant, Nestle and vertically integrated pineapple processor, Great Giant Pineapple. Anton’s experience with Nestle was formative; having started as a junior cost accountant in Nestle’s East Java milk powder manufacturing facility and growing over a period of 16 years to a senior country-level manager for Management Accounts. At Great Giant Pineapple, Antonius gained experience in plantation/agri financial management as the CFO of Indonesian operations. Antonius has experience with building departments, overseeing multiple manufacturing operations and being responsible for strategic management of finances and profitable corporate growth. Since joining the team at Big Tree, Antonius has helped identify key areas requiring stronger financial controls and has played a large role in moving the company into strong monthly profitability.
The Board of Big Tree Farms is made up of a group of prominent, experienced, and conscientious people committed to better lifestyles and healthier products. The Board is an active group and spends a significant amount of time helping BTF be more successful – something you do not often see in private equity investing, certainly not for a company at this stage.
Benjamin Ripple (bio above)
Frederick Schilling (bio above)
Managing Partner at White Road Investments & Director of Finance at Clif Bar & Company.
Deven started off as an entrepreneur 20 years ago in post-communist Prague and has since built up an eclectic set of skills and experiences. He is a managing partner at White Road Investments where he and his colleagues manage 13 portfolio companies and search for great new companies in the healthy, active lifestyle space.
In addition, Deven is the Director of Corporate Finance at Clif Bar and Company where he leads a team responsible for corporate development, bank relationships and financing. Over the past 9 years, Deven played an integral role in numerous debt recapitalizations, which secured Clif Bar & Company’s status as a private company. Most recently, he partnered with Clif’s CFO to develop structure and finance Clif Bar’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).
Since joining Clif, he’s held many roles including managing the procurement team, negotiating with Clif co-packers, and leading the brand finance teams. Prior to joining Clif he worked with Bank of America and BofA Securities for 8 years in various roles from financing telecommunications projects in Brazil to consumer products companies in the Bay Area. Being a CFA charterholder, he loves the finance side of house but secretly walks on creative side. He is a California native, lives in Marin County with his family. They can usually be found outside exposed to the elements.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pergament Advisors, LLC, a New York based asset manager serving the institutional and high net worth communities.
Prior to founding Pergament Advisors, he served as a Senior Partner at Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn. During his seven years at Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn, Mr. Pergament advanced from Analyst and Portfolio Manager to Senior Partner until he sold his partnership interests to Wilmington Trust Company. During this period, he was instrumental in growing assets under management from $300 million to $5.5 billion. He is a Co-founder and Director of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, a global cardiovascular research effort specializing in developing less invasive techniques to treat and potentially cure heart disease. Mr. Pergament is on the Boards of Directors of North Shore/Long Island Jewish Health Systems and Children’s Medical Fund.
Mr Pergament is also ex-CEO of Organic Avenue, a NYC based operator of 12 stores that sell organic cold-pressed juices, and plant-based grab-and-go fresh foods. Arthur sold his interest in the company 15 months ago to an affiliate of KKR – a leading private equity firm - and led the Series C Preferred investment last July after conducting extensive due diligence and setting the valuation for the round.
Founder & President Unity Venture Capital Associates
Mr. Lawrence Burstein has been engaged in the venture capital business for more than 30 years. He is the president of Unity Venture Capital Associates. Over the past 30 years Lawrence has invested in a variety of industries both in the US and overseas in Brazil, India and the Ukraine. These industries include technology, industrial manufacturing, distribution, banking and franchising and medical technologies. Lawrence has served on the Board of Directors of both public and private companies including Audit and Compensation Committees. He presently is on the Board of Directors of 2 public companies- ID Systems and CAS Medical Systems. Lawrence Burstein graduated from the University of Wisconsin and Columbia School of Law.
The majority of investors in Big Tree Farms are private US citizens. Big Tree Farms is fortunate to have an incredible base of socially minded investors that realize profit and company growth are not congruent with compromising social and environmental standards. But in fact, recognize that the fostering of healthy social and environmental supply chains, ultimately drive success of our company.