The new ‘Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund’, designed to protect cocoa farmer livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic is providing grants that will empower thousands of women farmers to start small businesses and earn a decent living.
The facility was specially designed to boost options for women and girls to earn a bit extra on top of their income from cocoa production.
The Fund was established as part of the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF), a rapid COVID-19 response facility set up by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and managed by Mott MacDonald Ltd.
As part of this fund, nine grants, totalling £257k, have been awarded to nine cocoa unions within Mondel?z International’s Cocoa Life programme in Ghana, representing 22,500 farmers.
As part of this work, the grant facility aims to support a total of 15,600 women to set up a range of climate smart small enterprises, helping build the resilience of farming communities during an unprecedented year.
Compared to their male counterparts, women cocoa farmers face multiple barriers that limit their ability to earn enough to afford a decent standard of living.
Some of the challenges include lack of access to capital and land; limited access to credit and financial services and inadequate technical skills and knowledge when it comes to cocoa production. As a result, these women are often unable to bring in more income to support the family or set up their own businesses.
This matters, because family food security and nutrition, education, health and child protection are closely linked to women’s wellbeing and empowerment in cocoa-growing communities.
Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Head of Cocoa Life in Ghana said: “Not earning enough income presents a missed opportunity for women and their families in cocoa growing communities to really thrive”.
The grant application process was carefully designed to take into consideration the needs of female union members in particular, ensuring more women were supported to apply and implement their plans. Deliberately non-competitive, the facility’s design takes the full grant value and divides it between the nine cocoa unions, with the grant value weighted according to number of members and with 25% uplift for women.
The rationale for using a fixed 25% uplift for women was that the unions would know the full value of the grant in advance and could tailor their proposals accordingly.
Dr Louisa Cox, Director of Impact at the Fairtrade Foundation said: “The deliberate focus on gender and the amount each union was allowed to apply for, prompted lively discussion amongst union leaders. They gave a lot of attention to women’s lived experiences and what might benefit them – allowing women’s voices to surface and shape the projects put forward for funding. They chose crop-related activities that were most relevant to women.
They also sought funding for getting women’s enterprises up and running – the types of businesses that women would want to own and lead in the future, from beekeeping to soap making.”
As a result of this investment, an estimated 2,500 women will now benefit from employment opportunities, 1,350 from training on soap and bread making and 5,000 will participate in planting alternative food crops – such as maize, cassava and vegetables – to sell at the local market.
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