The secret to Cargill’s Coop Academy in Côte d’Ivoire
An essential aspect of a systems approach is the separation of functions, roles, and responsibilities. To create the best end result, every actor must do whatever they do best. When creating their highly successful Coop Academy, Cargill worked with industry experts to perfect and implement their training. Read on to learn more about how they developed the program and how it has transformed cocoa cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire.
The cooperative situation in Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire is responsible for approximately 39 percent of global cocoa production. Nearly 95 percent of that cocoa is grown by smallholder farmers. Côte d’Ivoire is also home to over 1,500 cooperatives, and about half of its cocoa farmers belong to one. Cooperatives can be very helpful to farmers in helping them access markets and increase profits. Unfortunately, most of Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa cooperatives do not have optimized professional business practices, which hinders their ability to grow and profit. For these cooperatives to reach their full potential, and thus their full ability to support smallholder farmers, they must receive support and training to help them professionalize.
Cargill’s COOP Academy is an impressive solution
In 2012, Cargill established the Cargill Cocoa Promise as part of their work on sustainability. It is a commitment to bettering the lives of cocoa farmers and promoting growth in the cocoa sector. The following year, they launched their Coop Academy, which focuses on training cooperative managers and strengthening cooperatives.
To create the Coop Academy, Cargill leveraged the strengths of leading actors in the agricultural development ecosystem. TechnoServe helped to develop the Academy, as did the Institute National Polytechnique Houphouet Boigny (INPHB), a leading university in Côte d’Ivoire. TechnoServe also helps to implement the training. The Academy is also supported by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which has invested millions of dollars in the program. Cargill also works with us at SCOPEinsight by using our assessment tools to establish baselines and measure impact. Our work in the Academy has helped advance and refine our approach to professionalizing agribusinesses. The co-creation process we experienced with Cargill helped to refine our SCOPE Basic tool. Together, all these different industry actors created a program that leverages multiple points of expertise and is greater than anything one organization could create on its own.
The Coop Academy’s success model
The Cargill Coop Academy consists of four weeks of intensive training for cooperative managers, and then a year of coaching and support. The training focuses on various aspects of professionalism, including governance, management, and finances. By working with cooperative managers, Cargill hopes to create change most efficiently in their cooperatives, which will improve as their leaders gain more skills. This will ultimately provide benefits to cocoa consumers, who will have a better supply of high-quality cocoa.
Our assessment tools are an important part of this process. Cooperatives are assessed with the SCOPE Basic tool before and after they receive training. The initial baseline assessments help to target the training and make sure it is properly aligned with the cooperatives’ needs, and re-assessments prove that the training had an impact. Taco Terheijden, the Director of Cocoa Sustainability at Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, said this about our work together: “In our view, SCOPEinsight is more than an assessment tool. SCOPEinsight tools are real assets for driving change within cooperatives in the country and making them successful SMEs and vectors of local development in the cocoa sector.”
The impact of the Coop Academy
When the Coop Academy was first launched in 2013, the goal was to reach over 400 cooperative leaders. In 2014, after a year of success, IFC and Cargill invested $2.5 million to expand the program’s impact. As of 2019, it has trained over 850 cooperative leaders and reached approximately 52,000 farmers. IFC and Cargill have also created Coop Academy 2.0, which, among other improvements, increased the number of cooperatives in the program, updated the trainings with new digital programs, and added trainings specifically focused on women.
The Coop Academy has seen major success in its years of work. Our SCOPE data shows a clear increase in professionalism. The majority of cooperatives who take part in the Coop Academy improve their professionalism by an average of 20 percent. Thanks to this improvement, cooperatives see various benefits. For example, from 2016 to 2019, partner farmer cooperatives were able to access €7.5 million in bank loans. Cooperatives also see internal benefits, such as one cooperative whose production increased by over 130 percent in two years.
The future of cocoa cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire
A recent study by Cargill showed that the majority of Americans have some sort of chocolate treat every day. For this chocolate to be produced in a fair, sustainable way, cocoa cooperatives must be strong and professional. This is an achievable goal, thanks to the Coop Academy and everyone involved in making it a success. Together, we can empower the cocoa sector and strengthen cooperatives to give them a brighter future.
Are you interested in becoming a co-creator with us? Contact us today to find out how we can have a massive impact together on agricultural sectors.Back to news