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Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry
Chocolate is a staple dessert in many American households. However, journalists have recently helped expose the reality of the chocolate industry, revealing how most chocolate companies, including Hershey, Lindt, Mars and Nestle take advantage of child labor in the cocoa industry to increase profits. The cocoa that chocolate companies use to produce their products grows in the tropical climates of West Africa, Asia and Latin America, with West Africa producing 70% of the world’s cocoa. On average, the income of cocoa farmers is less than $2 a day. This income, which is below the poverty line, causes farmers to seek out cheap labor. Many children in West Africa live in poverty, so some children looking for work turn to cocoa farms, while others are sold into labor. Children as young as five work on these farms, enduring physical abuse and hazardous working conditions. One recently freed child slave said, “When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh.”

While child workers continue to be exploited, here are five chocolate companies that do not support child labor in the cocoa industry.

5 Chocolate Companies That Fight Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry

  1. Divine Chocolate: A group of farmers in Ghana founded this company in the early 1990s and set up a farmers’ co-op that traded its own cocoa and managed the entire sales process. The co-op, Kuapa Kokoo, aims to empower farmers by giving them a voice and providing ethical working conditions. The company also works to provide opportunities for women through literacy and numeracy programs, as well as training women to be buying clerks. The company is fairtrade certified and works to be environmentally conscious in its production.
  2. Endangered Species: This company focuses on farming cocoa in ethical working conditions and preserving wildlife diversity in its practice. In doing so, the company donates 10% of its annual profits to organizations that work to protect wildlife and animal habitats. Endangered Species is also the first chocolate company to source all of its cocoa from West Africa through fair trade, showing that it is committed to supporting cocoa farmers and their communities.
  3. Alter Eco: Alter Eco’s chocolate bars and truffles are made with cocoa from South Africa and only use ingredients that are clean and certified organic. The company is fairtrade certified, while also providing its partners with assistance by addressing concerns such as food security, biodiversity and gender equality. The company also aims to offset the effects of its chocolate production by practicing agroforestry, which copies the natural evolution of the forest and improves the wellbeing of its farms.
  4. Theo Chocolate: Theo Chocolate’s mission is to produce chocolate in a way that allows every member of production to thrive in the process. The company works directly with farmers in the Norandino Cooperative in Peru and Esco-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to source its organic and fairtrade cocoa. As a fairtrade company, Theo Chocolate pays farmers above-market prices and prioritizes purchasing from smallholder farms.
  5. Shaman Chocolates: Shaman is a fairtrade certified company that donates 100% of its profits to the indigenous Huichol tribe in Mexico, which is the last tribe in North America to maintain their pre-Columbian traditions. A leader of the tribe, Brant Secunda, founded the company in order to provide financial support to allow the tribe to continue practicing their traditional lifestyle, keep conducting their ceremonies and create artwork. One of the company’s projects sent the first Huichol member to college, while other projects involve building schools and supplying beads.

In recent years, journalists have exposed the child labor that occurs in the cocoa industry. Children living in poverty sometimes turn to this industry for work and are subject to hazardous working conditions and abuses. While child labor is still used by some companies, through things like fair trade, these five companies fight child labor in the cocoa industry.

Natascha Holenstein
Photo: Pixabay

Ghana
In early Ghanaian society women were seen only as child-bearers subservient to male dominance. In fact, a famous Ghanaian proverb states, “A house without a woman is like a barn without cows.” Women in Ghana have faced strict societal gender norms and fought to make great strides towards overcoming them, specifically in the workforce.

Ghanaian Women in the Workforce

Ghanaian women in the workforce are greatly involved, and heavily impact Ghana’s economy. These improvements for Ghanaian women have come in the last decade, and one company, “Divine Chocolate,” has been a huge contributor for this change.

Divine Chocolate has changed the lives of many farmers, and has specifically improved conditions for Ghanaian women in the workforce. The organization started a Women’s Cocoa Farming Training program that not only teaches women reading, writing and arithmetic, but it also teaches small business skills and specific trades: soap making, batik, and vegetable gardening, to name a few. This knowledge can add to Ghanian women’s income and help provide for themselves and their families.

Efforts such as these have not only taught women valuable skills and given them new work opportunities, but it has also greatly empowered Ghana women. In addition to the valuable skills taught by “Divine Chocolate,” another company fighting for Ghana women is called “Global Mamas.”

Global Involvement

Global Mamas helps a village in southern Ghana with their textile industry and connects them with a larger global marketplace to sell their goods. The women are also provided with training for their future work and given a new opportunity in the textile industry.

Ghanaian women in the workforce have persevered in the face of adversity, especially against societal views against them. Women face many more challenges entering into work than their male counterparts do, but this has not stopped them. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor even revealed in a study that Ghana women are more often entrepreneurial than the men in their country.   

Female participation in the workforce in Ghana is at an all-time high of 96.1 percent. Ghanaian women are not only involved in the workforce, but they are also leading it. According to the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship, women in Ghana make up 46.4 percent of all business owners in the country.

Over the past decade, women in Ghana have made great strides working and boosting their economy. Females are powerful, as seen in the entrepreneurial attitude and success of Ghana’s women. These strides in the workforce create new opportunities for women throughout the country and will continue to have an impact for the future of Ghanaian women in the workforce.

– Ronni Winter

Photo: Flickr

Chocolate Company Creates Jobs for Women in Ghana

Divine Chocolate is a Fair Trade chocolate company partially owned by Kuapa Kokoo Limited. Kuapa Kokoo is Ghana’s leading farmer’s cooperative for chocolate, dedicated to quality both in their products and in the lives of the members.

The Fair Trade aspect of the company prevents large organizations from taking advantage of the small-farm cocoa farmers. This allows the farmers to receive a fair income and reduces the chances of child labor and forced labor.

One of the more important aspects of Divine Chocolate is the emphasis on the empowerment of women. Approximately 32 percent of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative is made up of women. Women are given the opportunity to learn business skills, reading and writing skills, and even new trades through the Divine Chocolate’s Women’s Cocoa Farming Training program and the Kuapa Kokoo Women’s Fund.

The lack of education among women farmers in Ghana makes it easy for others to take advantage of them. The additional education helps protect the women from those who may cheat them and also increases their ability to run efficient farms and produce quality cocoa.

Women in the co-op who have higher levels of education are encouraged to become leaders. Those who have learned other skills have the opportunity to take out microloans from the Kuapa Kokoo Credit Union to start their own businesses. This allows them to receive a secondary income, especially when cocoa beans are not in season. Christiana Ohene-Agyare was the first woman to be nominated president of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in 2010.

“Being a member of Kuapa Kokoo has taught me that whatever a man can do, a woman can also do and even better,” said Ohene-Agyare to Divine Chocolate.

Kuapa Kokoo and Divine Chocolate are changing the view of women in Ghana through their innovative structure. Women are given the opportunity to learn, lead and make money through the training program and the Kuapa Kokoo Women’s Fund. The extra income earned by the women allows them to send their children to school as well.

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa behind the Ivory Coast.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Divine Chocolate, Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade, Good News Network
Photo: The News