From award-winning chocolate to an innovative business model that champions farmers, Divine are committed to doing business differently.
The only Fairtrade Chocolate company co-owned by farmers.
AN INSPIRING START
In the early 1990s, structural changes in the cocoa market in Ghana prompted Nana Frimpong Abebrese to begin creating a farmer-owned company to help farmers sell their own cocoa. Nana was a visionary farmer representative and independent representative of COCOBOD (a Ghanaian government-controlled institution that fixes the buying price for cocoa in Ghana). With the support of Twin Trading, a fairtrade company aiming to support cocoa farmers, Nana and a group of other farmers found ways to ensure the net gains of the company would belong to farmers, farmers could be paid in cash, and fair trade premiums could be invested in social programs.
To ensure more benefits for cocoa farmers, a new co-operative of cocoa farmers called Kuapa Kokoo is established on Fairtrade principles. The co-operative was named by Hannah, Nana Frimpong Abebrese’s wife; kuapa kokoo means ‘good cocoa farmer’ in the local language of Twi. The co-op’s mission has the welfare of its farmer members at its heart and aims to empower them in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood. With support from NGOs like Twin Trading, and SNV, Kuapa Kokoo initially started with a membership of 2,000 farmers from 22 villages, and was soon certified to sell Fairtrade cocoa, which would bring them a social premium they could invest in their farms and communities.
The farmers vote at their annual general meeting (AGM) to set up a chocolate company of their own in the UK. Instead of aiming for the niche market, the co-op decides to produce a mainstream Fairtrade chocolate bar to compete with other brands. Kuapa Kokoo’s motto is pa pa paa - which means ‘the best of the best’ in the local Twi language.
Twin Trading and Kuapa Kokoo launch The Day Chocolate Company in the UK. It is named in memory of Richard Day, a key member of the team at Twin which helped Kuapa Kokoo develop its organisation. The Day Chocolate Company receives enthusiastic support from The Body Shop, Comic Relief, Christian Aid and the Department for International Development in the UK. Kuapa initially own 33% of the shares of the company.
The Day Chocolate Company launches its first chocolate bar. The brand name Divine is created, and the first bar is “Divine Fairtrade Milk Chocolate.” Several months later, the bar can be found on supermarket shelves across the UK.
Divine has succeeded in its ambition to be the catalyst for change in the chocolate industry by growing a market for Fairtrade chocolate and creating a supply chain with the capacity to support a large mainstream brand. This socially and economically sustainable business model supports the needs of farmers first, providing opportunities for growth and success in local communities. Kuapa Kokoo, and others, continue to benefit from this positive change.
In 2009 Kuapa Kokoo elected its first woman president. A great testament to all the work Divine and Kuapa Kokoo have done together to ensure women farmers are empowered and have a greater say in their co-op and communities.
In 2015 Divine was also audited and certified as a B Corporation - joining the growing movement of thousands of companies worldwide who are signed up to use business as a force for good.
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