(BPT) - As you stand in the chocolate aisle of the grocery store, have you ever stopped to think about the story behind each bar?
Knowing that your choice of chocolate has a positive impact on the farmers who cultivated the cocoa beans can sweeten the entire experience. When choosing your favorite treat, make sure it is one that combines pleasure with purpose. Here are three things you might not know about chocolate, and how each one could impact your decision in the candy aisle:
1. The cocoa industry affects over 5 million small holder cocoa farmers around the world. The majority of cocoa is grown on small farms operated by independent farmers in developing countries in West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas. Your choice in the chocolate aisle can go a long way toward supporting these households: DOVE Chocolate partners with CARE, an organization dedicated to fighting global poverty. This partnership powers the development of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs): savings-led, community-based programs that allow members, such as cocoa farmers and their families, to support each other with low-interest loans and savings plans. The loans help cocoa farming households access capital to improve their farming practices, expand and diversify their businesses, and invest in education and health for their families and enrich their local community.
2. Fifty percent of cocoa farming activities are completed by women, yet women rarely benefit from cocoa-related income. While women play a key role in cocoa farming, many of them do not receive the income benefits they deserve. The VSLA initiative provides women with ways to save money and access small loans. In turn, women in cocoa farming communities can increase productivity on their cocoa farms and even achieve greater equality with their male counterparts. Within the past year, female representation in VSLAs has risen to 80 percent, and many members have increased their initial investments by 58 percent since joining a VSLA.
3. Cocoa is produced by farming households in developing African countries who often lack affordable financial services, according to CARE. Rural Africans have been forced to use whatever high-cost lenders are available in their area. By choosing chocolate that supports VSLA programs, you're helping women in cocoa growing communities find a safe and community-supported way to access loans and put their money into savings. What's more, these programs have further evolved with the linkage of many VSLAs and their members to formal Micro-Finance Institutions (MFI). This linkage gives VSLA members opportunities to access more modern financial tools that can increase profitability.
'Today's consumers are savvy in that they are increasingly conscientious about their impact on the world based on their purchase decisions,' says Leslie Philipsen, Brand Director, DOVE Chocolate. 'For example, we are finding that people appreciate knowing that their favorite brands stand behind real commitments to the people who create the products they know and love, and are doing what they can to help them succeed. That's why we continue to partner with CARE to positively impact thousands of women in the cocoa growing communities of Cote d'Ivoire through the VSLA program.'
'We know when a woman joins a VSLA, her involvement creates ripples of positive change that extend past herself to include the people in her community,' says Marcela Hahn, Executive Director of CARE's Strategic Partnerships team. 'VSLAs are about more than giving women financial opportunities. They are about transformation. We are honored to stand in partnership with DOVE Chocolate, changing the lives of thousands of women and their families in Cote d'Ivoire.'
From now through August 18, DOVE Chocolate will donate $1 to CARE for every purchase of specially marked DOVE Chocolate PROMISES at CVS Pharmacy locations. To learn more about the effort, visit www.dovechocolate.com.