Image credits: Cargill Cocoa Promise
A Cargill Cocoa Promise project, the Doni Doni Truck Financing Initiative, was the winner of the 2015 FiE Best Sustainability Innovation Award. The truck financing initiative provided low-interest rate loans to lease 78 trucks for cocoa farmer coops in Ivory Coast.
The Cargill Cocoa Promise project was launched in 2012, and is working toward three main goals: a transparent cocoa supply chain, improved income and standards of living for farmers, and delivery of a sustainable supply of cocoa. Their focus is to work with developing farmer cooperatives through the Cargill Coop Academy. Managers of farmer coops can access the low-interest rate loans after completing the program. The Cocoa Promise Project is a public-private partnership between Cargill, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Ivory Coast bank SIB.
Cargill Coop Academy, for managers of farmer coops, is described as a “mini-MBA.” It involves 28 days of intensive classroom training and a year of on-the-ground coaching in financial management and coop organization. Coop managers who complete the program get access to the low-interest rate funding to lease the new trucks to their coops. This allows farmers the ability to access markets for their beans and ensure quality during transportation. The education and loan program is being expanded into Cameroon.
Another program of the Cargill Cocoa Promise is the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). VSLAs are being developed in Ivory Coast and Ghana specifically to empower women and provide access to credit and microsavings.
Cargilll is also offering a direct purchasing license for importers of cocoa beans. With an effort to increase transparency in the supply chain, the program allows importers to source beans directly from farmers.
All of these programs are in response to serious sustainability issues within the cocoa industry. A powerful global commodity worth $9.5 billion in export, cocoa beans as an industry rest on shaky foundations—small, impoverished farmers in countries with economic and political instability, without infrastructure development or the resources to grow the beans in a sustainable manner. When issues of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery on the cocoa farms came to light in 2012, many companies that import cocoa beans developed initiatives to improve sustainability on the farms, increase transparency in the supply chains, and empower the farmers to form coops and work on infrastructure development.
Cargill has over 150,000 employees in 70 countries. The large corporation offers food, agriculture, financial, and industrial products to the world.