Cargill, I.F.C. to invest in cocoa program

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — The International Finance Corp. (I.F.C.) has teamed up with Minneapolis-based Cargill to invest $2.5 million to strengthen and expand the Cargill Coop Academy in Cote d’Ivoire. The funds will be used to provide greater access to advanced business skills training for more than 300 cocoa cooperative leaders.

The Cargill Coop Academy was established in 2013 to provide cooperative leaders with the management skills to improve the day-to-day running of their organizations and make their organizations more professional, efficient and successful. The initiative was launched as part of the Cargill Cocoa Promise, with 40 leaders from 10 cooperatives already benefiting from training and support provided by the Coop Academy.

Cargill said the $2.5 million investment “will take the program to the next level,” increasing the number of participants to more than 300, adding better training and materials and including the introduction of a new evaluation and benchmark tool that has been co-developed by I.F.C. and SCOPEinsight, an independent agricultural assessment agency.

“The Coop Academy remains a unique program that is giving the leaders of farmer cooperatives the skills, training and support they need to help their businesses succeed,” said Jos de Loor, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia. “Successful cooperatives are critical to supporting the future of cocoa farming and cocoa communities. Our partnership with I.F.C. will mean we will reach 70 new cooperatives and their leaders, benefitting more than 60,000 smallholder farmers and their communities.”

The 70 new cooperatives will now undergo evaluation at the start of the program in order to identify areas of weakness and determine the focus of their personalized coaching for the year, Cargill said. Progress then will be evaluated at the end of the coaching period. The SCOPEinsight tool will be used to assess the level of professionalism of farmer groups against eight key dimensions and is key to not only personalizing the training but to measuring the success  and impact of the Cargill Coop Academy overall, the company noted.

The Cargill Coop Academy was developed and is implemented by TechnoServe, a non-profit organization that provides business solutions to poverty in partnership with INPHB (Cote d'Ivoire's leading university). It is supported by the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada also is contributing to the project as a donor to I.F.C.
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