The Divine Story
In autumn 1998, Divine, the first ever Fairtrade chocolate bar aimed at the mass market was launched into the UK confectionery market. In an exciting new business model, the co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana own shares in the company making the chocolate bar. Here's how it all happened...
In the early 1990's, the structural adjustment program involved the liberalisation of the cocoa market in Ghana. A number of leading farmers, including a representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board, Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, came to realise that they had the opportunity to organize farmers, to take on the internal marketing function. This would mean that they could set up a company, to sell their own cocoa to the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), the state-owned company that would continue to be the single exporter of Ghana cocoa.
These farmers pooled resources to set up Kuapa Kokoo, a farmers' co-op, which would trade its own cocoa. Kuapa Kokoo - which means Good Cocoa Growers - has a mission to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women's participation in all of Kuapa's activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa.
Pursuing honesty for the ‘best of the best’
Kuapa Kokoo weighs, bags and transports the cocoa to market and carries out all the necessary legal paperwork for its members. Kuapa strives to ensure that all its activities are transparent, accountable and democratic. It doesn't cheat the farmers by using inaccurate weighing scales, as other buying agents often do.
For example Kuapa Kokoo has a strong reputation for using accurate weighing scales and using scales that are understood by illiterate farmers. The farmers are encouraged to check the scales against things of a known weight. Kuapa has commissioned the production of "weight stone", equivalent to a full, single sack of cocoa which are carried in Kuapa Kokoo vehicles and operations staff carry out official random checks to ensure the village recorder is using accurate scales.
After seeing the many benefits Kuapa gains for its members, more and more farmers want to join. The association now has close to 50,000 members organised in approximately 1300 village societies.
Pa Pa Paa - The Best of the Best
Cocoa from Ghana is of a high quality and trades at a premium on the world market. Kuapa Kokoo's motto is pa pa paa - which means the “best of the best” in the local Twi language. Kuapa have an inspiring vision to “become a leading, caring, efficient and the most globally recognised cooperative in cocoa production and marketing in Ghana”. The co-operative's premium quality cocoa is now sold to chocolate companies around the world.
For more information on the well regarded Kuapa Kokoo co-operative, visit:
A Chocolate of Our Own!
The cocoa farmers, who were already getting a Fairtrade price from some international customers, voted at their 1997 AGM to invest in a chocolate bar of their own. The farmers are very proud that they own something like this outside Ghana,” says Kuapa Kokoo's head of research, Erica Kyere. “And they are very proud that they employ some white people—that makes them laugh.”
A Brand New Day
Together with Twin Trading, Kuapa helped set up The Day Chocolate Company in 1998, with the enthusiastic support of The Body Shop, Christian Aid and Comic Relief. The company was named in memory of Richard Day, a key member of the team at Twin that had helped Kuapa Kokoo develop its organisation.
The Department for International Development pulled out all the stops to guarantee Day's business loan, and NatWest offered sympathetic banking facilities.
Divine Fairtrade milk chocolate, made from Kuapa's best of the best fairly traded cocoa beans was launched in October 1998 and by Christmas 1998, had made it onto the supermarket shelves!
A first for Fairtrade
The farmers' ownership stake in The Day Chocolate Company, a first in the fair trade world, means that Kuapa Kokoo has a meaningful input into decisions about how Divine is produced and sold. As shareholders, the farmers also receive a share of the profits from the sale of Divine. This innovative company structure was recognised when Divine was awarded Millennium Product status.
Even more Divine
In 2006, original Day Chocolate founder The Body Shop decided to donate its shares in the Company to Kuapa Kokoo increasing the farmers' cooperative stake in Divine to 45% ownership. On 1st January 2007, Day Chocolate changed its name to Divine Chocolate Ltd to more closely align the company with our flagship brand, and the brand itself experienced a major redesign. Divine’s future is bright and continues to unfold around the world, producing high quality chocolate and changing the lives of cocoa farmers through fair-trade.
Adapted from the Divine Chocolate website. Please visit the Divine Chocolate website for latest updates
Photos used with permission:
Adwoa Asiana with a bar of Divine. Photo credit Kim Naylor
Elias Mohammed. Photo credit Divine Chocolate
Beans. Photo credit Elizabeth Hudson