It’s that time of year when the next chocolate treat is never far away – so as you can imagine at Divine we make sure we have something in our Christmas range to tempt everyone – whether it’s for indulging and baking, giving and sharing.
At Divine our world is chocolate, but what drives us is being able to show that world can be different – and more people can benefit. Divine is a chocolate company on a mission… to deliver a sublime experience to chocolate lovers everywhere, while raising the bar on what it means to trade fairly with farmers, and do business better. It’s the amazing story behind Divine that has had such an impact, and changed how people think about chocolate for ever.
Back in 1997 a cocoa farmers’ co-operative in Ghana called Kuapa Kokoo ( ‘Good cocoa farmers’ in Twi) voted at their AGM to set up a chocolate company in order to access a share of the valuable chocolate market (worth many times as much as the raw cocoa). A year later the first Divine bar was launched in the UK – 33% owned by the farmers themselves.
Set up with the support of Twin Trading (a fair trade NGO), Body Shop, and charities Christian Aid and Comic Relief, the company was established with the aim ‘to improve the livelihood of smallholder cocoa producers in West Africa by establishing their own dynamic branded proposition in the UK chocolate market, thus putting them higher up the value chain’. This mission still drives everything we do – and to this end we have successfully both grown sales, and been at the forefront of raising consumer, business and government awareness about the need for fairer trade. In 2006, The Body Shop remained true to their vision to see cocoa farmers empowered and benefiting from their business by handing over all its shares in Divine to Kuapa, making Kuapa, with 45%, the largest shareholder in the company.
We have grown a brand and a reputation that is inclusive, fun, accessible, high quality, passionate and determined. Divine has flourished through wonderful collaborations with a myriad of other brands big and small, and we love engaging with chocolate lovers and interested consumers, and the continuous liaison with the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo. Through the Fairtrade deal, and ownership of the Company, Kuapa Kokoo has developed into a thriving, dynamic and democratic organisation now with 65,000 members from over 1400 villages – benefiting from the regular Fairtrade income, the premiums that are funding community improvements for thousands, and the status, market knowledge, and ‘seat at the table’ in the cocoa market, that owning Divine has given them. They have two representatives on the Divine Board, and farmers regularly visit UK to find out more about their company and the market they supply. Here, Kuapa members get together to help extract the cocoa beans from the ripe pods (credit Brian Moody).
In a world that is becoming increasingly confusing to the consumer (or business) aspiring to live and shop more ethically, we hope we offer chocolate to cherish and a beacon for change. Our great partnership between Divine and iconic pop festival Glastonbury brought a smile to lots of faces last summer, and our plan is to continue to prove it’s perfectly possible in business to put people first as well as profits, and make chocolate which is good news for everyone. Divine has created a model that is sustainable and empowering in the long term, and not arbitrary like charity. It is a model that doesn’t just deliver more reliable income – but profits, knowledge and power, enabling farmers to share in the wealth and market they have helped create.