Cargill marks UN International Day of Education with continued cocoa community engagement
Cargill has expressed its ongoing commitment to supporting families in cocoa growing communities, amid global celebrations for the UN’s International Day of International Education, writes Neill Barston.
As the business noted, its assistance to farming regions serving the global confectionery sector has been delivered through a number of core programmes, such as building schools – vital in the ongoing fight against child labour, helping people obtain birth certificates and training for adults.
The company has also continued its mission for greater engagement through supporting communities with its Cocoa Promise programme, as discussed with our previous interview with the company’s sustainability director, Kate Clancy (see our video with her here).
Speaking on the latest day of education, she said: “Because the forces affecting the cocoa industry are so deeply intertwined, when children go to school, the surrounding communities benefit in myriad ways.
“Improving education means more than granting children the opportunity to explore the fullness of their talents. It also means keeping them away from child labor, helping their families prosper, and, ultimately, building thriving, sustainable communities. That’s why Cargill has been investing in helping cocoa farmers’ sons and daughters earn diplomas.”
Furthermore, she added that it goes back to the company’s purpose, which is to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainability way. As she added, its sustainability programme has now reached more than a quarter of a million cocoa farmers in West Africa, Asia and Latin America. With its partners, Cargill runs more than 100 programmes in these communities, with access to quality education serving as one of the main levers for progress.
Notably, the company reported that it has now helped obtain birth certificates for 45,000 children, an important first step to accessing education. Partnering with a variety of NGOs and local government partners, the company has also helped build six schools in Ghana, eight in Ivory Coast and three in Cameroon in 2022 alone. Alongside this work, Cargill also sponsors training for school management committees to improve enrolment, attendance and teaching quality.
In addition, the business explained that it has partnered with the government of Ivory Coast, specialised NGOs and fifteen other chocolate companies to form the Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF). The goal of that collective effort is to provide quality education for 5 million children and influence 10 million parents by 2030, as well as its Co-op Academy, offering business training to community leaders.
The latter scheme assisted more than 700 participants from 70 cooperatives in Ivory Coast and Cameroon. Another 700 are expected to graduate this year. The results are transformative. In many cases, co-operatives end up raising their profit margins and producing sustainable cocoa that global food makers value.
Other efforts aim to empower women by helping them improve their financial literacy. Working with the CARE organisation, Cargill is supporting them in setting up Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), which give women access to affordable credit to set up their own business. Thus far, Cargill has established 686 VSLAs in West Africa, helping more than 11,000 women start or expand small businesses and become income generators for their families and communities.
Clancy said these are all interlocking elements of a strategy that aims to build stronger, more resilient cocoa-growing communities. “Ideally, the kids going to elementary school with their birth certificates in hand today will be tomorrow’s Coop Academy graduates – and the highly competent community leaders of the future,” she said. “Their drive and creativity will be needed, and this will give the young people the opportunity to live up to their full potential. That’s why we believe so strongly in the power of quality education.”