WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international agricultural development organization, announced that Oikocredit, a social impact investor, and the Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA) project, implemented by CNFA, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen cocoa cooperatives’ capacities in financial management and increase their potential for sustainable development.
MOCA, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress program, and Oikocredit signed the MoU on April 3 in Méaguy, in the Soubré department of western Côte d’Ivoire.
Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s biggest producer of cacao beans, responsible for an estimated 40 percent of annual global production. However, many farmers live in poverty due to low cocoa productivity combined with full dependency on cacao production for their household income.
The partnership between MOCA and Oikocredit will offer better opportunities for MOCA-selected cooperatives to develop an entrepreneurial approach to cocoa farming by diversifying their sources of income and accessing appropriate financial services.
Together, Oikocredit and MOCA have already led three regional workshops in February 2019 to provide information surrounding obstacles to loan access for cocoa cooperatives and assessing the understanding of risk management and bank requirements among cocoa producers.
To formalize the collaboration, MOCA’s Chief of Party and Program Director, Marc Steen and M. Camara Sauveur, welcomed a delegation from Oikocredit composed of Bart van Eyk, Director of Investments; Laura Pool, Director of Finance and Risk; Hans Perk, Regional Director Africa; and Solène Prince-Agbodjan, Investment Officer Agriculture. They met with MOCA-selected cooperatives in Méaguy and discussed the main challenges in the Ivorian cocoa sector and opportunities to address them.
The signing ceremony for the MoU was held during the delegation’s visit.
MOCA provides capacity building, training and other support services to Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa producers, cooperatives and exporters in order to boost stakeholder productivity and efficiency, improve farm incomes, and increase the supply of high-quality cacao beans.
Oikocredit supports smallholder farmers by providing access to loans, equity investments, and capacity building for agricultural cooperatives, producers, processors, and distributors that generate high economic and social impact for smallholder farmers.
Through this collaboration, MOCA and Oikocredit intend to focus on:
- Increasing cooperatives’ capacities in financial management and good governance,
- Supporting the development of investment planning and working capital loan requests,
- Developing innovative digital finance strategies,
- Improving finance control at cooperative level,
- Improving producers’ knowledge and understanding of risk management, and
- Facilitating loan access.
“The USDA financed MOCA project works with cocoa farmers and their cooperatives to increase their professionalism,” said MOCA Chief of Party Marc Steen. “This includes improving financial management to reduce financial risks and by doing so making the cooperative more attractive for money lenders like Oikocredit.”
“At Oikocredit we believe that social impact finance and capacity building are among the most effective tools for reducing poverty. We look forward to collaborating with MOCA on strengthening our support of Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa cooperatives and furthering our work towards improving livelihoods for Ivorian smallholders,” said Hans Perk, Oikocredit’s Regional Director Africa.