Earthworm Foundation and Godiva combine to empower women in Ivory Coast cocoa communities

Non-profit organisation Earthworm Foundation has reported core progress with its project alongside Godiva chocolate business, working with women within cocoa farming communities near forest reserves located in Cavally, Niégré and Monts Kourabahi, writes Neill Barston.

As the group explained, its community outreach work, including its initiative focused on helping improve financial literacy through creating village savings and credit association (VSCA’s) are in it view contributing strongly to greater levels of prosperity and cohesion with rural areas of West Africa.

According to Earthworm, its goal is to help empower the wives of cocoa and rubber farmers to take ownership of forest conservation through developing alternative earning strategies and activities that do not impact on forests, and utilising agroforestry best practice.

As the organisation noted, Soubré is the largest cocoa-producing region in Ivory Coast. It is also home to several protected areas that have been degraded by agricultural expansion.

So, together with its partners including GODIVA Chocolatier and logging group Sodefor, finding a balance between farmers’ livelihoods and reducing pressure on forests has proved a major focus.

“Godiva is proud to support initiatives that regenerate healthy forests and create prosperous communities that center the voices of women,” said Tara McTeague, head of Godiva global corporate communications. “As we continue our partnership with Earthworm Foundation, we are enthusiastic that initiatives like these VSCAs will continue to diversify farmer incomes and promote the ongoing regeneration of the regional landscape.”

Speaking on the credit association scheme, Eléonore N’Gbesso, Programme Manager at Earthworm Foundation, revealed that they are set up and run by women and men for the overall benefit of their communities. They offer the opportunity to both save and manage funds, examine potential revenue streams, and arrange short-term loans to develop targeted projects.

N’Gbesso commented: “These groups are structured and have procedures to ensure they function properly. Members freely choose their leaders – a president, secretary, treasurer, accountants and key holders. They hold weekly meetings, at which they deposit shares according to procedures. Funds and documents recording the movement of funds are kept in a cash box provided by the treasurer or other designated people, except the key holders.”


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