George Jaksch is the Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility and Public Affairs at Chiquita International.
Mr. Jaksch was born in London in 1945 and grew up in the UK and Germany as a citizen of both countries. Following studies of economics (Cambridge, UK) and agriculture (Seale-Hayne, UK), he for several years developed his own farming business in Colombia.
His special attachment to Colombia and Latin America has endured – not least because his wife Carmen is Colombian, his three children were born there, and Spanish is the preferred language at home.
He first joined Chiquita Brands in Colombia in 1979 as financial adviser to banana producers. At that time, he was able to assist local banana producers in the Santa Marta region to obtain several million dollars in government infrastructure loans. This experience illustrated vividly how international companies such as Chiquita can contribute to local development. The farms prospered and the loans were repaid, however Chiquita closed their operations in this region at a time (1983) when banana prices collapsed.
After several years working for the British multinational Geest in Colombia and Spain, he rejoined Chiquita in 1987and became operations manager of the Armuelles division on the Pacific coast of Panama, where he earned the chairman’s award for his work at introducing new technology. In 1989 he became director of quality control (Europe), based in the Netherlands, and soon afterwards was promoted to become responsible for quality assurance systems in Chiquita’s world-wide banana business, with residence in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As a result of the European banana import regime, Chiquita invested in banana production in the Caribbean and in the Ivory Coast, and George became increasingly involved in coordinating these developments. In ’96 he moved for a year to Abidjan to lead the creation of new banana plantations, with remarkable results in terms of productivity and quality. At this time the federation of Ivorian banana producers asked Chiquita to train local growers in modern production techniques, and with EU financing the world’s best experts traveled to Abidjan to share their knowledge. This episode created a lasting awareness of the great needs and potential of Africa.
Since 1999, George has returned to Europe, initially as director of the marketing and sales operation in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and more recently with increasing involvement in Chiquita’s corporate responsibility work and public affairs. A member of Chiquita’s corporate responsibility steering committee, George has actively and with conviction supported the evolution of the concept. As a lead auditor, he has conducted the SA8000 audits in Chiquita’s Honduran, Guatemalan and Costa Rican divisions, together with independent observers from human rights NGO’s and trade unions.