We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series. What could make chocolate taste even more divine? Knowing that you’re making a difference in the world with every bite.
Divine Chocolate was established in the late 1990s by a forward-looking group of cocoa farmers in Africa.
"We were the first fair trade cocoa farmers in Ghana to create a company of our very own,” says Fatima Ali, a member of the Kuapa Kokoo farming cooperative, which owns and operates Divine.
The farmers empowered themselves to set a fair price for their product, so they could enjoy more stability and plan for their families’ futures. For most members, it was also the first time they had owned something besides their farms.
“Divine wasn’t one person’s brainchild. It grew out of the farmers’ own organization,” explains Divine CEO Erin Gorman. “The company’s whole reason for existence is to enable farmers to realize more of the value of their work. Historically farmers have usually been at the lowest point of the supply chain. At Divine, they are at the highest point.”
All Divine products are certified by Fairtrade International, and the wrapper on each bar is decorated with Adinkras, traditional West African symbols that represent values Divine holds dear, including democracy, cooperation, learning from the past and adaptability.
Because the farmers own Divine, they enjoy a taste of sweet success from every chocolate sale. The Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Trust receives a premium for every tonne of cocoa. Those funds have been used for community development projects chosen at the village level, including schools, water wells, vision screenings, women’s clinics, camps for children and many other projects.
A portion of revenue also goes to the Kuapa Kokoo Producer Support and Development Fund, a democratic organization with 60,000 members.
“We put power, knowledge and profits in the hands of cocoa farmers so they can be the agents of change in their own lives,” Erin says. “I think of Divine as being a delicious and cheeky challenge to the chocolate industry to do better. We developed a fair trade chocolate company owned and controlled by small cocoa farmers in West Africa. We’ve already done things people said were impossible.”
Which Divine chocolate bar is your favorite?