HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., U.S. – DOVE Chocolate and CARE have announced the next phase of their partnership to empower women in the cocoa growing communities of Cote d’Ivoire. Yesterday, just two days before International Women’s Day, the first stone was laid on a new marketplace for women-led businesses in the village of Gueyo, a centrally-located commerce area nestled among the cocoa fields of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa.
The official ceremony was attended by 1,000 women and entrepreneurs, some of whom will have a new space within the market. Also in attendance were local dignitaries including Kone Messemba, the Prefet of Nawa Region and Abdoulaye Doumbia, Regional Director of the Ministry of Family, Women and Child Protection in addition to Jason Green, Mars West Africa Director and Inge Jacobs, Senior Manager, Human Rights and Income, Cocoa, Mars Wrigley Confectionery.
“It is a monumental day for all of us at DOVE® Chocolate as we break ground on a new marketplace in Gueyo,” said Leslie Philipsen, Brand Director, DOVE® Chocolate. “This effort is a natural evolution of our partnership with CARE, and another step towards realizing our vision of financially independent and empowered women, which in turn benefits cocoa communities like Gueyo.”
The new marketplace will open in July and provide space for women to sell their goods daily. The reinforced structure will provide protection from the elements, a major improvement from the outdoor stalls used before. Connected to the electricity grid, the marketplace will offer lighting for safety and added longevity should women choose to extend their work day. New meeting space will allow women to organize trainings, run operational meetings and be available for rent as another form of income. The marketplace infrastructure will also include new latrines and handwashing stations.
“There is a palpable excitement within the Gueyo community as we embark on this market build and opening,” said Guillaume Aguettant, Country Director for CARE in Cote d’Ivoire. “As in the United States, International Women’s Day is widely celebrated by both the women and men in Cote d’Ivoire. Today is all about the national pride we have for these women and the commitment they’ve made to themselves to gain financial independence.”
The DOVE® Chocolate partnership with CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, has operated since 2015. Since that time, DOVE® Chocolate has supported the development and evolution of small female-driven enterprises in cocoa farming communities using CARE Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLA) methodology. Today, the VSLAs operate in 39 communities in Cote d’Ivoire with thousands of members, 80 percent of which are women. The VSLAs have become essential in helping women achieve financial independence by empowering them to build micro businesses. In turn, the cocoa growing communities have benefitted, as the resources generated are re-invested in these communities by the women themselves.
The continued partnership between DOVE® Chocolate and CARE is part of the commitment by Mars, Incorporated, to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and to achieve our Sustainable in a Generation Plan ambitions. Having already pledged $1 million to CARE, Mars recognizes empowering communities and improving livelihoods in cocoa-producing regions is the most important step in how we make DOVE® Chocolate, because the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today.
For the third consecutive year, consumers can join this effort. In the coming weeks, for every online purchase of qualifying DOVE® Chocolate PROMISES® 150-piece bags on Amazon, $5.00 will be donated to CARE. See the DOVE® Chocolate page on Amazon for more details.