Since 2015, Mars, Inc. has promised to empower women in Cote d'Ivoire, where 40% of the world's cocoa is sourced. As part of its long-term commitment to cocoa sustainability, Mars and its brands, including DOVE® Chocolate, conducted an assessment of women's involvement in cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire and found women weren't benefiting from the production of cocoa, even though they were participating in more than half of cocoa-farming activities. These cocoa farming communities suffer from extreme poverty, a lack of resiliency and illiteracy, making it difficult to save money and provide for their families.
To achieve the goal of empowering women in Cote d'Ivoire, Mars, Inc. made a $1 million donation to CARE®, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, in 2015. Since then, DOVE® Chocolate has supported the development of small female-driven enterprises in cocoa farming communities using the CARE Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLA) methodology. The evolution of the VSLA program is the linkage of members to a formal Micro-Finance Institution (MFI) that will increase financial access to participating women and men in Cote d'Ivoire.
The VSLAs provide a safe place for women (and men) to save money and access small loans, thus encouraging the business efforts of participating individuals in farming communities. VSLAs are self-managed groups that do not receive external capital; they provide communities with a safe place to save their money, access small loans and better address unforeseen expenditures. VSLAs can dramatically build up social capital within communities, particularly among women who represent 80 percent of members. Through the program, participants are learning how to read and work with numbers, and gaining confidence to secure larger loans and continue telling their peers about the model and their successes. The partnership with CARE provides access to financial training for women, as well as improves their personal and family livelihoods.
Throughout the last year, we've brought this partnership and commitment to life through the following activities:
The partnership has seen great success entering its fourth year of operation, most notably in building social cohesion within the cocoa-growing communities of Cote d'Ivoire.
While difficult to measure social changes quantitatively, there have been improved cooperation and inclusion among the following in the communities where DOVE® Chocolate works in partnership with CARE®:
Public Relations efforts have garnered the following results this year: