Skip to content

A New Ally in Cocoa Sustainability

  • News
  • Agriculture

Acumen launches Cocoa Interrupted, in partnership with Hershey, to advance social enterprise’s role in cocoa sustainability

Chocolate is a simple product that means so much to so many people around the world, but how that chocolate is made is incredibly complicated. Roughly 70 percent of the world’s cocoa grows in West Africa and is sourced from smallholder farmers, many of whom live below the poverty line.

As a result, the story of cocoa in West Africa is largely a story of poverty. The challenges of the sector are well known and publicized—a labor-intensive farming process, fluctuating global prices that affect incomes, aging farmers, limited opportunities for young adults, child labor, limited local infrastructure, unsecure land rights, and more.

Based on a new report published by Acumen, social enterprise can be a major new source of opportunities to tackle the challenges facing cocoa growing communities. The spirit of entrepreneurship, combined with a drive to solve complex social problems, make social enterprises a natural ally in the effort to tackle the systemic issues associated with the cocoa industry in West Africa.

Acumen partnered with Hershey to publish Cocoa Interrupted:The Role for Social Enterprise in Cocoa Sustainability. The report presents an opportunity for the cocoa industry to bring new ideas and new solutions to the challenges facing cocoa farmers and their communities through collaboration with social enterprises.

“Cocoa is something that challenges us to work together in new ways, as social and environmental issues across cocoa growing regions reveal vulnerabilities in our current systems” said Yasmina Zaidman, Chief Partnerships Officer for Acumen.

Inside the report, Acumen presents case studies on four social enterprises in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire: Advans, Farmerline, PEG Africa and Eneza Education, along with a number of companies using for-profit models to creatively and sustainably address the varied needs of cocoa communities. We also uncovered examples of partnerships between industry leaders and social enterprises, demonstrating the complexities and potential of this approach.

According to Jeff King, the Senior Director of Global Sustainability and Social Impact for The Hershey Company, “West Africa is full of individuals with ideas and dreams. Cocoa Interrupted builds on these peoples’ potential as entrepreneurs whose businesses can make meaningful impact in their communities.”

The Cocoa Interrupted report will be launched at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship at an Ecosystem Event hosted by Acumen and Business Fights Poverty. The event brings together leaders committed to tackling poverty and sustainability challenges through cross-sector collaboration, with representatives of 25 global corporations and over 20 social enterprises joining from across the globe. The report and event are designed to highlight the tremendous opportunity for corporations to work with social enterprises to tackle the most pressing issues impacting cocoa communities and make cocoa a force for good.