Cocoa farming in Africa has largely been considered men’s work, despite the contribution of women in the process. Our chocolate supplier, Divine, is working to give women equal opportunities and income in chocolate the farming community.
Divine partners with a farming cooperative in Ghana called Kuapa Kokoo, which was founded to empower farmers to manage their cocoa sales directly, rather than relying on other agents who could cheat them. They are a worker-owned cooperative, meaning each one of the 85,000 farmers in the co-op holds a stake in the organization.
Empowering women has been a fundamental mission of Kuapa Kokoo since the beginning. Women cocoa farmers are common in Ghana, but their farms are generally smaller and less profitable. Women have lower literacy levels and access to less education than men in the country. Divine works to give these women access to the education they need through specific training programs.
Let us introduce you to one of the women who has benefited from these training programs.
MEET MARGRET FIANKO
Margret never went to school but is now a participant in a Divine-funded numeracy and literacy program managed by Kuapa Kokoo and facilitated by Ghana’s Non Formal Education Division. “Before the course, I couldn’t do anything; I couldn’t read and couldn’t write,” Margret explained. “But now I can recognize letters and read.”
She is also putting her newly learned numeracy skills to good use to record the expenditure and income of the market stall she runs and was proud to report that she now knows how much money she makes and only spends the profit. Margret’s ambition is to one day be elected as a Kuapa recorder—someone responsible for buying cocoa from other Kuapa members—and is making good progress towards learning the skills necessary for this position.
As a member of a Kuapa women’s group, Margret is also part owner of a 1 acre community farm. When her women’s group first formed two years ago, they were encouraged by Kuapa to start an income generating activity. They chose a communal farm where they grow aubergines and okra which is sold in the local market. Being part of a women’s group also means that Margret has received training in the production of liquid soap and screen printing; these serve as other income generating activities that can supplement the income she achieves from cocoa production.
Story from Divine Chocolate.