The chocolate industry in West Africa is marred by violence, child labor, unfair business and accounting practices, and even slavery. The low prices we see here in America get lower on the backs of overworked, underpaid, and sometimes underage farmers in countries like Ghana and The Ivory Coast. These two countries farm about 2/3 of the world’s cocoa beans, and yet still face crippling poverty every single day. The farmers of Kuapa Kokoo believe that there has to be a better way.
In the early 1990s, a group of farmers frustrated with being cheated at every turn, pooled their resources and formed the Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative. These farmers based their cooperative on fair trade principles, transparency, democracy, efficiency, and equality for women. In 1998, they formed a publicly traded company, now Divine Chocolate, so that they could directly market their work to the rest of the world. The farmers of Kuapa Kokoo own nearly half of the company, hold seats on the board, and host yearly board meetings in Ghana.
Know that when you purchase Divine Chocolate from Trade as One, you participate in a radically innovative business model, and cast your vote for fairness (and tastiness, don’t forget how good these chocolate bars taste).
Here’s an interview with Comfort, one of the farmers. She talks about how women are treated within Kuapa Kokoo, and her rise to the position of National Secretary.