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