What do women get out of joining Kuapa Kokoo

26 October 2012

I’ve just been to Ghana for some meetings at Kuapa Kokoo – we’ve been working together on communications strategy.  I haven’t been for a several months, so it is always very good to catch up with everyone.  It was also great to go out to Bipoa and Bayerebon3 again and spend whole days in the villages talking with farmers and hearing how things are going, and reporting back from Divine Chocolate.

The women's group in Bipoa

The women’s group in Bipoa

There are women’s groups in both villages – and they are clearly a real force within the community.  I sat and asked a few women about their farms, their families and why they had joined Kuapa – and the obvious benefits of belonging to these vocal and supportive groups was a clear incentive.  Elizabeth Antegoa lives in Bipoa where the first Kuapa women’s group was formed.  She joined Kuapa Kokoo a year ago.  “I wanted to be part of the women’s group, ”she says.  And she describes how much she has gained from joining. “We all join together and we help each other. Together we have learned skills like making soap and screen-printing – and this helps us earn our own money.”

Elizabeth Antegoa

Elizabeth Antegoa

“I like the way women are encouraged in Kuapa Kokoo,” she adds. At the moment Elizabeth only has one room in someone else’s house.  Her dream is to make enough money to have her own house with a kitchen and bedrooms.  “The women’s group will help me make it happen,” she says.

I talked to Georgina Oppong in Bayerebon3.  She joined Kuapa Kokoo three years ago, and said she’d joined first and foremost because “everything is fair”.  Then she talked about how proud she is to belong to the local Kuapa women’s group. Together they have requested a loan from the credit union, to give them seed money for setting up their income-generating businesses.  Georgina sells fish at the local market to augment her income from cocoa.

Georgina Oppong

Georgina Oppong

Women make up about a third of the membership of Kuapa Kokoo – and the development of the groups and the benefits they bring to women is a testament to the really proactive approach Kuapa has taken to its gender equality programme.  The women are not just learning new income-generating skills alongside cocoa farming – but also really honing them.  The tie-dye and batik fabrics I saw this time were considerably more sophisticated than those I saw a year ago.  It seems to me that the women’s groups are creating a growing potential to bring in additional income to families and also to the organisation.  It’s also clear to see that participation in the women’s groups builds women’s confidence, and they are increasingly putting themselves forward for elected positions in the cooperative – and taking on leading roles.

Lovely tie-dye samples from the Women's Group in Amankwatia

Lovely tie-dye samples from the Women’s Group in Amankwatia


Fast cars, wild women and Divine Chocolate – it must be Norway

23 October 2012

Latest post from Sophi Tranchell:

New Friends Fair Trade shop in Mathallen Oslo

New Friends Fair Trade shop in Mathallen Oslo

Last week I was in Norway for the DLF (the Norwegian food trade body)  50th Anniversary Conference.  The theme was sustainability.  One of the morning speakers drove into the auditorium in a red  Koenigsegg.  I don’t know what it had to do with sustainability but apparently it’s the fastest car in the world – I wasn’t sure how to follow that!  In the evening they had a grand dinner with entertainment, the highlight was Katzenjammer,  a raucous band of women playing a fusion of folk & rock.

Arriving at Oslo Central station the next day, I was delighted to find the full range of Divine small bars in three different shops and even the florist was selling beautiful bunches of Fairtrade roses and Divine chocolate hearts. 

Onto the newly opened Food Court Mathallen  where Friends Fair Trade have a fantastically located stall near the entrance selling the full range of Divine gifts and bars.  I gave a presentation telling the story of Divine Chocolate and the farmers in Ghana who grow the cocoa and own the company.  After a delicious lunch we were given a guided tour of the food court, a cornucopia of food from around Norway to tantalize the taste buds, I would certainly recommend it to anyone visiting Oslo.

Divine gifts at the Friends Fair Trade shop

Divine gifts at the Friends Fair Trade shop

Back to the Friends Fair Trade  shop to discover a whole world of Fairtrade, as well as everything Divine has ever produced, Pants to Poverty, towels from Gossypium, hoodies from Epona, Dr Bonners Soap, tea from Hampstead Teas and Clipper, coffee from Cafedirect, and a massive range from Traidcraft.  They definitely get the prize for the biggest range of Fairtrade marked products any where in the world!