Divine Chocolate that empowers

“We need a future for cocoa farming which is sustainable- not just for chocolate companies and chocolate lovers but for the people growing the crop” (Sophi Tranchell, MBE, Group CEO Divine Chocolate UK, 1999-2020)

Each year, some $100 billion is spent on chocolate, mainly in Western Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. To produce this, approximately 5 million tonnes of cocoa are grown annually, mainly in West Africa.  While its production provides a source of income for over 5 million farmers and is a valuable source of export revenue for the producing countries, its production is not sustainable. Not only does it generate a 5-kilo carbon footprint for every kilo of chocolate produced, but the industry is characterized by:-

  • Farmer poverty – most of the cocoa farms are small family businesses and the majority of the families are classified as living in extreme poverty.
  •  Low productivity –   resulting mainly from inefficient agricultural practices and aging cocoa trees
  • Child Labour – 43 per cent of the children living in agricultural households in the cocoa-growing areas of the Ivory Coast and Ghana are believed to be engaged in hazardous work on the farms.
  • Deforestation – between 1988-2008 an estimated 2-3 million hectares of forest were lost to cocoa production, mainly in South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to increased greenhouse gases, climate change, desertification, and soil erosion.

For the small cocoa farmer to survive, this needs to change and the major chocolate brands can make an important contribution through their supply chains.  Several have tried but it seems that implementation is not easy. For example  Mars Wrigley, a private family–owned global company has been making chocolate for over 100 years and for 40 years has been working to achieve sustainable cocoa production. It continues to do so, but as its Chief Procurement and Sustainability  Officer, Barry Parkin, acknowledges  “the vast majority of programs have failed. Think about the amount of money and effort that we’ve put into this over decades, and they’ve all failed. So you know what that tells us – this is extremely hard to do”.  However, some small brands have managed to accomplish it. One such brand is the award-winning Divine Chocolate Ltd.

 Founded in 1998, though originally called Day Chocolate and only re-named Divine in 2007, it has offices in London and Washington D.C.,  employs some 27 people, and has a turnover of some £15 million. It was established in partnership with Comic Relief, Twin Trading, the Body Shop, and Christian Aid by Kuapa Kokoo (meaning Good Cocoa Farmer) a Ghanaian Fairtrade co-operative that was set up in 1993 by the visionary Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, one of the local farmers,  with 2000 farmers from 22 communities. Kuapa Kokoo owns 44 per cent of the Divine business and profits are distributed according to shareholding. The ownership model gives the cocoa farmers the opportunity to be involved in management decision-making and making business decisions for Divine, which reinvests 2 per cent of its turnover into its supply chain. Divine purchases its cocoa from Kuapa Kokoo via Cocobod, the Ghanaian government-controlled body that sets the Fairtrade buying price for cocoa plus a premium.

Since its foundation Divine has generated over £100 million in sales and in the year 2016-17, for example, purchased 953 tonnes of cocoa beans from Ghana, all with the premium paid to the farmers. In addition, the cooperative provides training programmes for the farmers, 35 per cent of whom are women. These include workshops to help them develop additional means of livelihood, personal and community capacity building, and the empowerment of women. Also, the cooperative has its own child labour awareness programme, educates its members on ways to help children avoid serious harm, and advocates the education of children.

Having achieved B-Corp status in 2018, Divine has won various awards and partnered with the Swiss chocolate producer, Halba, to promote income diversification, climate resilience, biodiversity, and dynamic agroforestry. It is financing the purchase of cash crop seeds for 120 farmers and will donate $5000 toward the planting of 10,000 trees. As the President of Kuapa Kokoo, Fatma Ali, says in Divine’s 2021 impact report “in the past year alone, we established cocoa and shade tree nurseries in 101 communities and supplied 647,200 improved cocoa seedlings and 160,000 shade and fruit trees to 1,641farmers. We also trained 400 women in 24 communities in soap making, bread making, beekeeping, and rice production.

As a Harmonious Enterprise Divine is addressing SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 15 (Life on Land).

In 2021, Divine, whose motto is Pa Pa Paa (the best of the best), won a Great Taste Award from the UK Guild of Fine Food for its Dark Chocolate Pink Himalayan Salt.


Bunch, E (2021), Chocolate is one of the most damaging foods to the environment –Here’s Why. Wellandgood.com. November, 2.

Divine Chocolate (2022), Join the Chocolate Revolution: Impact Report 2021. https://www.divinechocolate.com

Harris, S., (2022), Raising Cocoa Farmer’s income is ‘Pass or Fail’ for Chocolate Industry. Forbes.com. April. 21.

© Harmonious-Entrepreneurship.org / Harmonious Entrepreneurship Ltd. (2020-2023). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author(s) noted is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harmonious-Entrepreneurship.org/ Harmonious Entrepreneurship Ltd with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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1 comment

  1. What a great insight into successful co-operatives and sustainable farming. It is also good to see the benefits of charitable donations like Comic Relief etc which invested in the initial venture all those years ago. May Divine go from strength to strength


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