ANTWERPEN, Belgium — Incofin Investment Management (Incofin) signed the partnership ‘Beyond Chocolate’; Belgian’s first big charter in collaboration with Belgian chocolate- and retail business, civil society organizations, social impact investors and universities to make chocolate more sustainable. The partnership is supported by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo (Open Vld).
The Partnership for sustainable Belgian Chocolate aims to sustainably improve the living standards of cocoa producers and their families. All signatories will collaborate on tackling a number of challenges such as child labour, deforestation, minimum income, gender equality and quality education to make chocolate 100% sustainable. Alexander De Croo is happy about this joint effort and says: “We all enjoy our good Belgian chocolate, which globally has a leading reputation in terms of quality. By giving more attention to sustainability, we make our chocolate taste even better.”
With the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF), Incofin already contributes significantly to these challenges in the cocoa industry. The fund invested over USD 8 million in Fairtrade and UTZ certified cocoa producers, some of which are also organic, in Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda and Colombia. Incofin commits with this partnership to maintain, and if possible, increase its exposure to the certified cocoa productivity value chain. The FAF’s mission is to serve the financing needs of smallholder farmers, agro SMEs and agro MFIs while promoting a sustainable food system for the world. By investing up to 20% of its portfolio in cocoa the fund aims to protect cocoa farmers and increase the profit potential of their produce.
The ‘Beyond Chocolate’ Partnership for sustainable Belgian chocolate has the following goals:
- By 2025 all Belgian chocolate needs to comply to at least one of the relevant certificates such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and organic, and/or produced with cocoa from an independent sustainability program. Also the Cocoa & Forests Initiative will need to be fully respected by then.
- Deforestation as a consequence of chocolate production for Belgium needs to be stopped by 2030, and all cocoa producers will have to earn at least a living income.
Beyond Chocolate’ builds further on the existing Belgian SDG Charter for International Development that was launched two years ago. This Charter gathers the private sector, civil society organizations and government around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Incofin Investment Management (www.incofin.com) is a global independent impact investment firm, focused on rural and agricultural finance, driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress. It is an AIFM licensed fund manager and has over USD 1 billion in assets under management. Incofin has a team of more than 50 professionals spread over the headquarters in Belgium and local investment teams in India, Colombia, Kenya and Cambodia.
Incofin currently manages the following funds:
- Rural Impulse Fund II (closed-end fund) invests in microfinance institutions that offer financial services in disadvantaged rural areas through debt and equity investments. RIF II focuses on investments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- agRIF is a third generation (closed-end) fund, making equity investments in financial inclusion for the rural sector (smallholder farmers and rural micro-entrepreneurs). agRIF also provides debt investments in agricultural SMEs and agricultural focused financial intermediaries.
- The Fairtrade Access Fund (evergreen fund) contributes to the development of a fair and sustainable agriculture sector by providing working capital and long term financing for small holder farmers. This evergreen fund is open to investors for commitments.
- Incofin CVSO (evergreen co-operative) specialises in debt and equity investments in the impact investments universe. It is a cooperative fund and open to retail investors.