Mars Wrigley Confectionery brand Dove Chocolate is celebrating International Women’s Day by breaking ground on a new marketplace in West Africa to support cocoa farming communities in the Ivory Coast.
Roughly 40 percent of cocoa beans are sourced from the Ivory Coast, and women contribute to more than half of the cocoa farming activities in the region. Dove Chocolate, in partnership with Care, wants the marketplace to be a safe and secure space for women to sell their goods.
“One of the most important aspects of making a quality chocolate product is ensuring the wellbeing of the people who make the product, from our cocoa farmers to our associates in factories,” said Leslie Philipsen, brand director, Dove Chocolate. The brand has partnered with Care since 2015 with the goal of “giving women a safe place to save their money and grow their income, generating activities like soap making or dress making even diversifying other crops and commodities outside of cocoa,” Philipsen added.
For Dove Chocolate, the effort is a way to show consumers around the world what it stands for. “We are committed to helping improve the lives of women in the cocoa supply chain through really focusing on economic and social empowerment of women,” Philipsen said. The brand’s main goal is to help women become more financially independent, and providing them with better conditions to sell their goods is a big step toward getting there.
Currently, the markets in the Ivory Coast aren’t always the safest or most accessible for female sellers. Most women exhibit their goods outside of the markets in the open air, making rain and harsh sunlight a problem. Some women can’t afford to buy makeshift tables to showcase their products and instead end up using tarps. Many don’t have the appropriate storage facilities for perishable products, leading to major income loss.
“The new marketplace really will benefit women who previously sold outside,” Philipsen said. “They will now have access to decent and secure vending. They will have access to new latrines and hand-washing stations to keep their stations clean and hygienic.” Dove Chocolate and Care laid the first stone for the new marketplace on March 6, two days before International Women’s Day.