HeForShe: Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE | Founder, The Black Farmer

Wilfred Emmanuel-JonesWilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE is a British businessman, farmer, and founder of “The Black Farmer” range of food products.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I was born in Jamaica before moving to inner city Birmingham with my parents in the 50s. I’ve been a chef, I’ve worked in TV production, I’ve had my own food and drink marketing business but in 2000 I realised my dream and bought a farm in Devon. This inspired me to develop and launch my own food brand, the now very successful The Black Farmer brand of gluten free foods.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never really planned my career but everything I did was to position myself into a place to be able to buy my farm.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

As a black person I have faced many challenges. My philosophy is that life is uncertain, and the key is to make a friend of uncertainty. By doing that you don’t expect things to go your way all of the time. It’s vital to have passion because it defies reason and logic, an essential attribute to being successful.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Pulling off Black History Month by getting all the major retailers on board for this special initiative. It’s been my Bob Geldof moment!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

More than one but drive and determination. You have to decide whether to believe or belong. You can only achieve success if you are prepared to get into the ring of life, take the blows and keep getting up. “To believe” is operating by your own rules rather than the rules of the group.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I run a hatchery of start-up businesses and the focus is on mentoring. It’s something I am deeply passionate about. The greatest gift you can give anybody is support on their journey in life.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

The most important thing they can do is to make it higher on the list of the nation’s priorities. For far too long diversity has been very low down on the list of companies and the government. Measurement of success should be not only what profits and what organisations are making for their shareholders, but also how they’re contributing to the wellbeing and advancement of the BME community.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for equality, what would it be?

Make me Prime Minister!

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be confident and be assured that people don’t know more than you do. I’d also advise that dyslexia is a gift because it allows you to see things differently and its people who see things differently who change the world.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to make my online farm shop a success because if it is it will lead to my ultimate dream, to have a destination farm shop in the South West, the must-see stopover destination. It will be a location that will be a bridge for those from urban Britain who are contemplating living and working in rural Britain.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Suki Sandhu, Philip Baldwin, Asif Sadiq MBE, Rob Neil OBE and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here.

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