Divine Chocolate, co-owned by the cocoa farmers’ cooperative Kuapa Kokoo, is celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017 by raising awareness of the role women play in cocoa production. They will be publishing a report highlighting the cooperative’s work to improve gender equality in the cocoa industry, 20 years since the confectionary brand was first launched.
Divine began in 1998 when Kuapa Koko teamed up with Twin Trading, a trade NGO, with support from The Body Shop, Christian Aid, and Comic Relief. From the start it was guided by clear principles to empower farmers, improve livelihoods, and increase the participation in the running of Kuapa Koko by women, who make up 35 per cent of the organisation’s 85,0000 plus members.
As well as getting a Faitrade premium for Kuapa’s farmers – who all benefit from shares in the company – Divine has invested two per cent of its income for the last 15 years into producer support and development projects specifically aimed at the empowerment of women, maintaining good governance, and testing different farming techniques.
Today, women have leading roles in the organisation, including president Fatima Alia, and a number of women on the National Executive Committee. ‘I am a woman and also very young but because of the training I have received from Kuapa Kokoo I know that I can achieve anything I put my mind to,’ says Ali.
The report, Empowering the women cocoa farmers of Kuapa Koko, will also be published to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, beginning 27 February 2017, where campaigners, businesses and NGOs will raise awareness about farmers and workers in the developing world.
To further celebrate these successes, Divine has unveiled a specially-designed 70 per cent cocoa bar with the Empowering Women motif on its packaging.
Words: Sid Haynes-Worthington
Cover image: Olivier Asselin
Read more about Divine’s story here.
Find out more about Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign.