Koa cocoa fruit company gains coveted B Corp production status
Francis Appiagyei-Poku and Benjamin Kuschnik of Koa, which has just gained B Corp status. Pic: Koa
Swiss-Ghanaian start-up company Koa is celebrating gaining ‘B Corp’ recognition for the quality of its socially responsible cocoa fruit business, writes Neill Barston.
As the company revealed, it has gained the coveted certification standard with a notable score of 95.7 points, which the team believed offered a significant boost to its activities as it seeks to drive forward its mission to improve positive change in offering a viable income stream for farmers in West Africa.
The B Corp movement has gained increasing global media headlines, as an increasing number of companies seek the standard as a means of underlining their environmental and socially conscious credentials. This has seen brands including French-based Valrhona, and vegan specialists Ombar gain the sought-after status within the past couple of years.
Benjamin Kuschnik, Co-Founder and Group Finance Director of Koa, welcomed its latest accreditation, which comes just five years after the company was established.
He said: “Nowadays, measuring the success of a company needs to go beyond pure financial performance. Since our inception, we measure our success on the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. Being B Corp certified, we join a community of businesses
around the world leading the transformation of the global economic system and we hope that many of our peers will follow our example,”
By certifying their businesses, recognised B Corps step into a framework for continuous improvement. A company must achieve a minimum score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment to be certified and repeat the verification process every three years. The extensive assessment measures Koa’s ongoing impact on its workers, community and suppliers, customers, governance and the environment to make sure that the company is meeting high international standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
As a B Corp, the start-up joins the growing movement of around 6,000 Certified B Corporations from 158 industries across 86 countries, including companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Innocent Drinks and Valrhona. The B Corp Certification is administered by B Lab.
Lucy Muigai, CEO of the African B Lab certifying Koa said: “This is not only a win for Koa but a win for the B Corp movement. The recognition marks Koa’s continued investment in tackling poverty in the cocoa supply chain and strengthening rural communities through job creation. Koa joining the B Corp community signals a shift towards greater accountability and transparency in the cocoa sector.”
Founded in 2017, Koa is disrupting the cocoa industry through its innovative upcycling of the cocoa fruit. Koa is the first company in West Africa to have unlocked a new value chain around the so far discarded cocoa pulp and worldwide the first cocoa fruit brand to become a B Corp. Working closely with cocoa smallholders, Koa reduces on-farm food waste around the cocoa fruit, generates additional farmer income and creates new jobs in rural communities.
At the same time, Koa brings unique new ingredients to the food and beverage industry for applications ranging from chocolate and confectionery to ice cream or drinks.
Opportunities for improvement
“We are proud to receive this certification, especially since we’re the third B Corp which has its major operations in Ghana, and we’ve been only five years in business,” says Francis Appiagyei-Poku, Finance and Administration Director at Koa in Ghana. “While we have proven to meet B Lab’s high standards, it’s still important to us that we strive for continuous improvement.”
As a water-intensive sector, agriculture poses risks such as water stress or depletion of local water sources if water use is not appropriately managed. Koa’s production process in the factory requires substantial amounts of water and energy for logistics, cooling and cleaning. Koa is therefore constantly improving the infrastructure to reduce resource usage such as investing in a rainwater harvesting system.
Furthermore, the business is actively training its workforce for an international environment. Koa is committed to having more women and minorities in leadership positions since diversity is at the core of its business and the team aims to set an example beyond the sector it works in.