Cargill reflects on support for women

Marking International Women’s Day (8 March), Cargill is reflecting on the efforts and steps it has taken to support women in cocoa-growing communities. They are, for many communities, the social and economic foundation – as farmers, entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as taking primary responsibility for children’s education.

In many countries, however, women in rural communities struggle to reach their full potential due to a lack of economic resources, productive assets, markets and training.

“Very often, because they’re so deeply intertwined in the life of these communities, our local women partners already know what needs to be done to help unlock some of the systemic issues facing them. However, they need support to get started – a loan, extra training, a way to access markets and take their entrepreneurship to the next level,” explained Kate Clancy, Group Sustainability Director of the cocoa & chocolate supply chain. “With the support of our partners, the multiplier effect kicks in, the benefits from seemingly isolated activities start snowballing and the entire community reaps the benefits.”

Cargill takes a holistic approach to advancing gender equity and promoting women’s empowerment in the cocoa sector through the Cargill Cocoa Promise, which is its program to enable cocoa farmers and their communities to achieve better incomes and living standards while growing cocoa sustainability. The program has been implemented in all countries where Cargill sources its cocoa from including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Indonesia, Brazil and Ecuador.

“We don’t just want women to do well financially so that they can raise their earnings and help their families,” said Clancy. “We want to help them fulfill their potential as business and civic leaders. To that end, we work with farmers, their organizations and other local civic leaders and interests to help create community action plans laying out local needs and priorities. Working with both women and men to advance gender equity is crucial to the success of our initiatives.”

In 2021, Cargill helped more than 11,000 women entrepreneurs create economic opportunities for themselves through over 600 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in West Africa, which generated income and strengthening their communities.

There are a number of notable examples coming from the cocoa growing communities, such as Marie Adjehi Nanou Bla from Côte d’Ivoire – when her husband lost his source of income, Marie was forced to look for other ways to pay for household expenses and schooling for her four children. She went to the local VSLA for the loan she needed and invested in a freezer. Thanks to this investment, she is now financially independent and sells frozen fish, chicken, eggs and gasoline.

This story is echoed elsewhere: Mavis Yeboah, who is known around her Ghanian vilage as ‘Nketasia Hemaa’, the queen of women and youth, became an advocate after participating in the PROSPER program, a collaboration between CARE and Cargill that aims to help cocoa-farming communities to become more prosperous, sustainable and resilient. Today, Mavis serves as the President of her community’s women group.

“Mavis, Dorothée and Marie’s stories are just a few examples of how investing in women can be a powerful catalyst for positive change. Every day, we see the enormous potential offered by the women who live in cocoa-growing regions,” added Clancy. “Working with partners, private companies and local government agencies, Cargill is proud to help these women unlock their full potential. When women have access to the right knowledge and resources, they become difference-makers who drive positive change for their communities.”

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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