DOVE® Chocolate announced a partnership extension with CARE®, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Since 2015, DOVE® Chocolate has supported the development of small female-driven enterprises in cocoa farming communities using CARE Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLA) methodology. The evolution of the VSLA program is the linkage of members to a formal Micro-Finance Institution (MFI) that will increase financial access to participating women and men in Cote d’Ivoire.
VSLAs provide a safe place for women to save money and access micro-loans, in an effort to empower them to be more engaged in financial decision-making. Within the past year, the number of VSLAs and VSLA members have more than doubled within communities in Cote d’Ivoire, touching the lives of thousands. Women represent 80 percent of membership. Overall, members have increased their savings by 58 percent since joining a VSLA.
“We’re encouraged by the tremendous progress we’ve seen in Cote d’Ivoire as a result of our partnership with CARE,” said Leslie Philipsen, Brand Director, DOVE® Chocolate. “While early in its adoption, the new MFI linkage will allow VSLA members who have mastered the traditional system even more financial access to fund their income-generating activities, opening doors to brighter futures.”
Since the inception of the VSLA program in Cote d’Ivoire, loans have been used for small trade and commerce (43 percent) as well as for cocoa farm improvements (35 percent). More than 20 percent have been used for agricultural diversification in other crop production and household needs such as health and education. The introduction of the new MFI linkage will allow VSLA members even greater financial opportunities by moving from the use of cash to digitized and mobile money. Members can also have access to more financial resources with favorable terms.
A new short film (above) premiering at the 2018 National CARE Conference illustrates the positive impact of the VSLAs within the communities of Cote d’Ivoire. The film follows three women and the evolution of their businesses as they embark on the new MFI linkage system. According to Leopodine Gadou, Project Leader for CARE in Cote d’Ivoire, the new system has “transformed the attitudes of these women. They are becoming more involved in modern technology, which is a real change for them. And now, these women are able to look ahead and plan for their futures.”
The continued partnership between DOVE® Chocolate and CARE is part of the commitment by Mars, Inc. to improve the lives of cocoa farmers as well as further sustainability efforts. Having already pledged $1 million to CARE, Mars recognizes enriching and improving communities in cocoa-producing regions is the most important step of the bean to bar journey. For the second consecutive year, consumers can join this effort. From July 22 to August 18, 2018, for every purchase of specially marked DOVE® Chocolate PROMISES® at CVS Pharmacy locations, $1.00 will be donated to CARE.