The world’s first women cacao cooperative against all odds
Centuries of exploitation and decades of armed conflicts have made Eastern Congo one of the world’s poorest places and perhaps the harshest to live as a woman. Saddled with agricultural work, firewood gathering, water hauling, and childcare, women have seen an increase in their burdens as the economy has deteriorated. Girls are always the first ones to drop out of school. Violence against women has become a normal aspect of day-to-day reality even at the household level.
Amidst the turmoil, hundreds of women have taken local leadership to create an opportunity for women from the new cacao crop introduced by the Original Beans partnership since 2008. These are the Femmes de Virunga. They have planted more than a quarter of a million cacao trees and approximately 40 thousand shade trees. In November 2016, they have founded the world’s first women cacao cooperative.