Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa, and tens of thousands of children are forced – often smuggled in – to work on cocoa farms, particularly in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Praxis Mutual Funds® has led shareholder dialogues on child labor with chocolate companies since 2009, and participated in meaningful progress on the issue. Companies such as Hershey, Mondelēz International and Barry Callebaut have made significant improvements in their cocoa-sourcing policies. However, each company has developed its own program to help farmers and address child labor – Learn to Grow, Cocoa Life, and Cocoa Horizons, respectively – and each program has its own initiatives and performance indicators to measure success. This has led to somewhat fragmented efforts, as well as inconsistent ways to measure progress in the cocoa industry as a whole.
Praxis has encouraged chocolate companies to collaborate, and in 2014, 10 major chocolate companies created CocoaAction. The initiative’s goal is to develop meaningful partnerships among governments, cocoa farmers and the cocoa industry to boost productivity and strengthen community development in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. This coordinated approach includes common standards for each company’s cocoa program.
By 2020, CocoaAction intends to train and deliver improved planting material and fertilizer to 300,000 cocoa farmers, and empower communities through education, child labor monitoring and women's empowerment. CocoaAction will be measured according to key performance indicators, and progress will be publicly reported on a regular basis.