It’s no surprise that 1 October – World Cocoa & Chocolate Day – is a special day in the calendar of Magnum, our ice cream brand. After all, its range of sensuous ice creams enveloped in a thick coat of its iconic cracking chocolate are what the brand is known for and what our consumers love.
But this year, the brand is marking the occasion with something extra special. It is celebrating the upscaling of its female empowerment programme, called AWA by Magnum.
The programme was designed to boost the entrepreneurial skills of members of the cocoa farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire whose harvests help create the chocolate coating of our bestselling ice creams.
AWA by Magnum was created with the help of NGOs such as CARE International and 100WEEKS, working with our supply chain network. It looks to provide farming communities in our extended network with the finances, skills and resources to develop businesses that provide additional income streams to support their households, outside the money they earn from the cocoa harvest.
Women, in particular, often face the difficult balance of juggling the seasonality of cocoa farming with the needs of their children’s welfare, wellbeing and education. And AWA by Magnum is a key part of Magnum’s overarching goal to invest €25 million to empower 5,000 women, financially and socially, through impact programmes by 2025.
July this year saw the graduation of the first cohort of Ivorian women cocoa farmers who had successfully completed the programme.
AWA, a digital ambassador with many stories to tell
The brand’s first digital ambassador called AWA is already sharing some of the success stories and life-changing impacts experienced by its participants.
And they are in a unique position to do so, because AWA is an avatar created using facial scanning technology combined with the live portraits of 128 Ivorian women from the country’s cocoa farming communities who have been positively impacted by taking part.
Accumulating savings to help safeguard against poor harvests
AWA by Magnum offers the women a mix of financial training and practical business mentorship from local entrepreneurs, such as Ivorian fashion designer Rebecca Zoro. A recent survey by 100WEEKS showed individuals participating in AWA by Magnum have 12 times more savings compared to the benchmark in Côte d’Ivoire.
And income is not the only benefit, confidence is another. “When a woman decides to do something, she does so with an eye on the future,” says local farmer Koanda Madena.
What’s more 74% of the first cohort of graduates from AWA by Magnum have expanded their income streams by establishing businesses ranging from fashion retail to food production.
Konfe Habibou is one of them. Through sessions with 100WEEKS and the AWA By Magnum’s training programme, she has increased her export business of placali, a cassava paste that is used in Ghanian cooking. “I used to export 8–10 bags; now I export 200–250 bags a year,” she says.
Upscaling to reach 5,000 women by 2025
Successes like these led Magnum to decide to upscale the programme to include an additional 400 farmers from two more farming co-operatives. The aim is to reach 5,000 women by 2025.
“Since 2012, we have invested €80 million in helping to make Magnum’s supply chains more sustainable,” says Magnum Global Brand Lead Ben Curtis. “Through our impact programmes, we are putting additional focus on supporting female cocoa farmers, as we know they are often at the heart of many families and communities,” he says.