Ivanka Trump Announces Finance Project for Women Cocoa Farmers

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest cocoa processors and chocolate companies pledged to support women farmers in the top producing country to access finance for the development of their communities.

White House adviser Ivanka Trump announced the project Wednesday when visiting Ivory Coast during a four-day trip of Africa, saying that the initiative will create 300 lending associations and connect another 500 to financial markets. In a country where about 1 million small-scale farmers contribute almost two-fifths of global cocoa output, women account for 40 percent of the workforce even though they seldom own land or hold decision-making roles.

Ivanka Trump Announces Finance Project for Women Cocoa Farmers

“Women dominate, yet they often aren’t at the point in the value chain where they personally can benefit,” Trump said at a cocoa farm near Adzope, 97 kilometers (60 miles) north of Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan. “We know that village loan associations work, especially when well executed.”

New Skills

Community finance can help women to pay for the learning of new skills and expand their businesses to the production of staples such as cassava, bananas and aubergines, said Awa Bamba, who has overseen a similar arrangement during her two years as head of a local cocoa cooperative.

The $2 million project is lead by the U.S. Agency for International Development and supported by processors and chocolate makers such as Nestle SA, Barry Callebaut AG and Olam International Ltd., said Tim McCoy, vice president for country relations at the World Cocoa Foundation.

“The initiative aims to reinforce the sector by targeting the associations in the villages, women and credit,” said McCoy. “It directs the financial resources toward the community.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.