Attentiveness to the issue of women’s work, especially in terms of equality, is in the DNA of our company. A company that, from 1938 to the mid-fifties, was managed by an almost entirely female workforce and run by one the rare italian businesswoman of the time: Olga Zaini.
Therefore it was only natural for Luigi and Antonella Zaini, the third generation now running the company, to support with enthusiasm the project proposed by the UCAS Cooperative in San Pedro, of which Solange N’Guessan is the creator and spokesperson.
The disparity between men and women in Ivory Coast is very significant, especially in rural areas, where cocoa plantations are located. Women, in addition to working on the plantations, take care of all aspects of domestic life: the supply of food and water from wells, the care of children and other family members, house cleaning (raw earth buildings) and the handling of social relations. All of this without having no economic compensation or social recognition in return.
Cocoa Horizons’ commitment to promoting women empowerment and gender equality in Côte d’Ivoire has led to the inclusion of 340 women in governance positions.
This is why our company supports “THE NEW WOMEN OF COCOA” project, to give a new chance of development to the farmers’ families, starting with women.
In collaboration with Cocoa Horizons, we promote the sustainable cultivation of high quality cocoa, ensuring farmers and their families better living conditions and development, both economic and social.
Cocoa Horizons is a non-profit organization operating in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon, countries representing about 65% of the world’s cocoa producers.
“Improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities through the promotion of sustainable and entrepreneurial agriculture, enhance productivity and community development.”
THE NEW WOMEN OF COCOA is a project in favor of cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast.
It consists in modernizing the production of soap, which has always been made for family use according to an ancient manual technique. Thanks to this project, soap production becomes remunerated and accessible to many Ivorian women of the UCAS cooperative.
The main purpose of the project is to create the necessary conditions for Ivorian women, part of the cocoa farmers’ families, to have an income that allows them economic self-sufficiency, a greater recognition in the family and social sphere, as well as better outcomes for their children.
Our company supports the project through the purchase of machinery and the creation of suitable and safe workplaces. Thanks to the modernization of manufacturing processes and the sale of soap on the market, production will become a profitable activity and women will be able to improve their social situation, also to the benefit of the entire community.
By modernizing processes and selling soap on the local market, production will move from family consumption to a profitable project for women for the benefit of the entire community.
This production method is based on the transformation of cocoa waste (dried cocoa bean shells) into soap. By beating the burnt shells, potassium powder is obtained.
Potassium mixed with palm and palm kernel oil results in soap paste, which is shaped and stored in special wooden grills to cool and solidify. The last step is the soaps packaging before sale.
In the words of Solange N’Guessan, creator of the project:
“I would like this project to be a paradigm for my whole country, it is not charity: it is an alliance between cocoa workers and a chocolate producer attentive to their living conditions.”
Solange N’Guessan ambition is that her “Olga Z” soap bars (this is how she decided to name them, in honor of Olga Zaini) will conquer 20% of the Ivorian soap market in the next 5 years.
The storytelling of THE NEW WOMEN OF COCOA project was entrusted to the Italian photojournalist Francesco Zizola. Zizola’s interpretation is a splendid portraits gallery dedicated to the women involved in the project.