Awards 2002 The Trade Partners Award for Small Businesses in Africa

The Trade Partners Award for Small Businesses in Africa

This award is given to a company with not more than 150 employees for commercial activity which has contributed to viable economic development in an African community.

The Runner-up: The Day Chocolate Company

Receiving the award

The Day Chocolate Company seeks to offer a fair deal to cocoa growers while supplying quality chocolate to chocolate-lovers. It was set up in 1998 - at the initiative of Kuapa Kokoo, a Ghanaian cocoa growers' co-operative - to use Kuapa Kokoo cocoa in chocolate for mainstream shops in Britain, not just a niche Fairtrade market. It makes Divine chocolate bars, specially blended for Britain's sweet tooth and sold in 5,000 shops including all high street supermarkets. It also makes Dubble chocolate crunch bars, sponsored by Comic Relief, for youngsters (over five million bars sold) and own-label chocolate for the Co-op and Sainsburys.

The 18-year-old son of a cocoa farmer told Sugar magazine: "This helps us earn our way out of poverty. We need fair prices so that we can invest in the things we need - tools, clean water wells and education. I am hoping my father will soon be able to send me to train as a motor mechanic." Kuapa Kokoo, which means "good cocoa growers" in the Twi language of cocoa growing Ashanti, owns a third of Day's shares. Twin Trading, which created the Fairtrade coffee Cafedirect, is the biggest shareholder. The Body Shop, Christian Aid and Comic Relief are also involved. Kuapa Kokoo was formed to buy and market cocoa beans in 1993 after Ghana's government gave up its buying monopoly. It now has 40,000 members, organised in democratic village societies, and has a good reputation among farmers for weighing beans fairly.

The world price of beans is now high, if fluctuating: over $2,100 a tonne on January 2, 2003. This is mainly due to civil strife in the world's biggest cocoa producer, Ghana's neighbour, the Ivory Coast. Not long ago the world price was only $800, leaving growers in poverty, despite their hard work in growing, harvesting and fermenting their beans. Only 7p of the price of a 1 chocolate bar is for the cocoa, and growers receive only part of this.

Day Chocolate guarantees a Fairtrade price of $1,600 a tonne to Kuapa Kokoo (or the world price if it is higher). In addition, it pays a $150 a tonne social premium to be spent on wells and other improvements in cocoa growing villages.

Day Chocolate and other Fairtrade buyers can take up only a fraction of Kuapa Kokoo members' cocoa output; but Day Chocolate aims to increase its purchases with its market. It expects to double this market, now it has the contract to supply all the Co-op's own-label chocolate bars. Managing Director Sophi Tranchell, comments: "The UK chocolate market is worth about 4 billion a year. If Fairtrade products can capture even a small proportion of that market, producers in developing countries gain real benefits."

For Kuapa Kokoo growers, the most dramatic benefit from their Fairtrade sales has been investment in community projects: a health scheme, 96 hand-dug wells, several cornmills with palm-oil extraction machines, money for new enterprises run by women, including soapmaking. Kwabena Ohemeng, managing director of KK and a director of Day Chocolate, told the Financial Times: "The farmers live in very poor conditions. They don't have good roads, clean water, access to medical help and sanitation - the things you expect in the UK. A bite of Fairtrade chocolate means a lot to peasant farmers. It gives children access to education and a decent standard of living."

Linda Gilroy MP, who visited the remote village of Fenaso Domeabra, 90 minutes' drive from Kumasi, writes: "By getting a well through the Fairtrade premium, the women and children no longer have to walk several hours each day to obtain clean water." Fairtrade also pays towards education in improved cocoa growing and towards a scholarship fund to enable some of the farmers' children to realise their ambition of higher education and a better life.

Day Chocolate points out that its chocolate costs just a few pence more than other makers' but those few pence make a difference to farmers' lives. Day Chocolate has become a member of the Biscuit Cocoa, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance. It is keen to prove that Fairtrade is a viable business model and to encourage other chocolate makers to take it up.

The judges say

The Day Chocolate Company is to be commended for its courageous and creative marketing stance in favour of fair trade in the highly competitive chocolate confectionery market. Embracing the challenging aim of bringing fair trade into mainstream markets, Day Chocolate is succeeding in finding a range of influential UK outlets to achieve this. The development of an inclusive model, with strong share ownership by the local growers' co-operative, also helps to create and support a coherent and sustainable process from producer to consumer. Marrying the ethical drive with success in the market will continue to represent a substantial challenge, but Day has made a strong start, with promise of excellent benefits for Africa.

The Day Chocolate Company, 4 Gainsford Street, London SE1 2NE;
Tel: +20 7378 6550; Fax 1550