Empowering women is essential for having a positive impact on the future of sustainable cocoa. It’s not an easy task as they often face a lot of barriers to reap the fruits of their labour. This International Women’s Day, meet Madeleine. She heads up a women’s association in her village in Côte d’Ivoire and explains how, with some support from us, she is developing her own source of income to become more independent and support her family.
Madeleine Aya Bouadi, 52, is president of the women’s association in the cocoa farming village of Yao n’gohkro. The association brings together 33 women from the village to run a group-owned cassava farm, created with the help of seed money and tools provided by Olam Cocoa. “We meet every Tuesday to work on the farm together and decide what needs to be improved.”
They mill the cassava themselves and are finding buyers to sell to, all so they can earn an independent income, supplement what their husbands are making, and support their families. They also help each other on their individual plots where they grow food staples like yam, aubergine and rice to cook themselves or to sell at the local market. This model is already making a difference. They received USD$200 in seed money and have made USD$3,000 after a year.
As president, Madeleine looks after their earnings and considers loan applications whenever members ask the association for money to start a business or send their children to school. She has received entrepreneurial training from her cooperative which has helped her to do this. She has also benefitted in other ways. Using Olam Cocoa funds, her cooperative bought her a stove and wheelbarrow which has been a big help to care for her own five children and the six others she also looks after. With the wheelbarrow, her husband can transport cocoa pods from his farm alone without help from their children, allowing them to concentrate on their studies.