I am from a cocoa farming family and I myself have a cocoa farm. I was appointed as Managing Director back on the 1st September 2008. Previously I worked for the PBC (Produce Buying Company), the buying company of the Ghanaian cocoa board. Moving to Kuapa Kokoo has been both challenging and interesting. Kuapa Kokoo is unique among the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) in being owned by the farmers who sell their cocoa to it. My role as MD is unusual as I am working with the people who are the workers, but also my employers.
I think the co-operative structure is working well here in Ghana – people perform better if they own the company. It is a challenge running a cooperative of this size – you need to have enough working capital, and make enough profit to help maintain the structure and the principles.
Having been in the USA for the Divine Chocolate Inc Board meeting there last week, and being here for the Board meeting and other appointments this week has really highlighted to me how important owning Divine is for Kuapa Kokoo. We not only have our own chocolate company which gives us a stake in the chocolate market, and a Dividend, but also the opportunity to network across the industry worldwide – which gives us very useful knowledge and more influence. The transparency of the relationship between Divine and its stakeholders makes the company truly unique.
I also appreciated the opportunity to see a little of Washington DC – in fact I got to see a bird’s eye view of the city from 500 ft up the Washington Monument! I also visited the Washington Zoo and saw their elephants. Back in Ghana we can have problems with elephants trampling crops – the story goes that when elephants are going to water to drink they are very scared they will suck crabs up their trunks at the same time, so they trample hard before drinking to ensure they have crushed all the crabs!