Care aid group joins with Cargill and Starbucks for cocoa farming community venture

Humanitarian aid organisation Care has teamed up with Cargill and The Starbucks Foundation for a renewed venture financially assisting hard-pressed cocoa growing communities in Ivory Coast, reports Neill Barston.

The intervention comes as the West African region has been impacted by two years of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as fluctuating commodities prices that have notably affected agricultural sectors.

As the collaborative venture explained, the new initiative will builds on decades of Care’s experience in developing Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs). These have been designed to increase the impact and sustainability of project activities, as members become self-reliant, and help establish other such schemes for people in their communities.

The partnership aims to establish 120 VSLAs linked to 10 farmer organisations in Cargill’s supply chain, using the VSLA platform for integration of broader gender, nutrition, and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions. Cargill will help establish and support 100 VSLAs, and The Starbucks Foundation will support the creation of an additional 20 VSLAs, enabling women to advance, diversify, and expand their income generating activities.

In total, this initiative aims to directly impact the lives of 2,500 participants (2,000 women) and indirectly reach 15,000 community members by September 2023. “VSLAs work with women community members to save together, start small businesses, and help uplift entire families from poverty. With the support of The Starbucks Foundation and Cargill, we can help women in Ivory Coast extend and grow access to resources,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of Care US.

“Women are essential to the sustainability of the cocoa sector, and Cargill has been working with Care for over a decade to implement concrete solutions to empower people. We are proud to now join forces with both Care and The Starbucks Foundation to scale up the VSLA model and help women to build their capacity to become income generators in their own right, as farmers, as entrepreneurs, and across families. This partnership is also a testimony to Cargill’s continued commitment to driving economic growth in Côte d’Ivoire,” commented Kate Clancy, Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate sustainability lead.

“We believe that an investment in a woman is an investment in her family and her community,” said Virginia Tenpenny, chief global social impact officer, Starbucks. “Through our partnership with Care and Cargill, we’re proud support women in cocoa-growing communities in Ivory Coast, especially through incorporation of nutrition and WASH programming alongside tools and training that promote women’s leadership and entrepreneurship.”

As the collaborative group added, the initiative supports Care’s signature She Feeds the World framework. The framework focuses on empowering women with economic opportunities, increasing their access to resources and markets, and amplifying their voice in relevant policies and institutions at national and local levels.

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