When it comes to delicious chocolate and farmer empowerment Divine has always gone further - farmers own 45% of the company.
Do you ever dream of chocolate? The cocoa farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative dreamed of a chocolate company of their own – and made it come true. Realising the big money is made once cocoa is made into chocolate, the farmers voted at their AGM in 1997 to start their own chocolate company. The very next year Divine was born, and from the start it was set up to pay the Fairtrade price for all its cocoa. But Divine goes much further. With a 45% share in the company, the farmers also get the biggest share of the profits, direct access to market data and information, and a voice in an industry where farmers have historically been exploited and marginalised.
Kuapa Kokoo now has 65,000 members in over 1400 village societies across Ghana. They have invested the Fairtrade premium in many fundamental improvements to their communities and business, and enjoy the benefits of belonging to a democratically run organisation where leaders are accountable, where women as well as men are empowered, where education is valued and where improved farming practices are embraced. Kuapa is ‘going further’ too – and being proactive in improving the benefits to its members, piloting healthcare schemes, and its own weekly radio programme reaching thousands of members.
Here in the UK (and increasingly around the world) Divine has introduced chocolate lovers to the farmers they depend on for their favourite treat, raising awareness of the lives and challenges behind chocolate, and the difference fairer trade opportunities can make.
We’ve had an impact on the big players in the chocolate industry, and more cocoa is being bought at the Fairtrade price, so more Premium money is reaching farmers around the world. We want to make sure this doesn’t come at the cost of less rigorous standards, or undermining the original objectives of Fairtrade.
The objectives of this movement are to see smallholder farmers sustainably remunerated and empowered so they can see a good future in farming, and that future is in their own hands, and it’s a movement Divine and other Fairtrade organisations continue to lead.
We want a future where chocolate can be cherished as much by the cocoa farmers, as it is for all those millions who are now learning that the chocolate they love is much too precious to take for granted.
You can read more about Divine's plans for Fairtrade Fortnight here.
Kuapa farmers Mary Appiah and Esther Mintah Ephraim who will be joining Divine in the UK for Fairtrade Fortnight