Shawn spent most of the week working alongside our farmer partners harvesting cocoa, fermenting and drying beans, and testing moisture content. And of course, we brought lots of chocolate to share with the farmers. This is fun, of course, but it’s also a critical component of our Direct Trade practices because most of our farmer partners had never tasted chocolate before we began working with them. The trip culminated with Shawn opening our books and sharing profits.
Shawn began helping our Tanzania cocoa farmers draft their Vision for their co-op. Five years later, the farmers are accomplishing steps of this goal-setting process one-by-one (like building an office!). One each origin trip, we work with the farmers on their Vision: what challenges are they facing, what successes, and what next steps can we take? On this trip Shawn brought simple leather bracelets for each farmer. He shared that they were our gift from our factory–that we hoped when they looked at it, they would be reminded of their Vision.
Shawn also worked with the inspiring young women and men in our Empowered Girls and Enlightened Boys clubs. The goal of these programs is to foster conversation on important topics like self esteem, visioning and goal setting, sexual and reproductive health, leadership skills, cultural and gender issues, and more. We’re amazed by the results we’re seeing (improved school attendance, improved test scores, and fewer pregnancies to name a few) and inspired by the work these students are doing to build solid foundations of both self and mutual respect.