Fairafric – Buy Ethical, Sustainable, Organic and Delicious Chocolate
I got to know Fairafric while sharing a co-working space with them two years ago. I saw the passion firsthand that drives the Fairafric team to make more than just great chocolate. They want to built positive, long lasting economic change for the communities in Ghana, Africa.
A few years after their successful launch, I wanted to ask about the visible impact being seen by the farmers and employees of fairafric in this part of Ghana, Africa.
Get to know the people behind fairafric and what drives them to improve the quality of chocolate as well as the lives of the workers in Ghana.
Where did your commitment and passion for social and environmental responsibility come from?
At one point in his life, fairafric’s founder, Hendrik, wondered about the large gap between poor and rich countries. Why were many of the poor countries to be found in Africa? How was it possible that a somewhat colonial system can continue to exist? And why did we continue to exploit the Global South for the benefit of the countries in the Global North. During a trip he made back in 2013 to East Africa, he met coffee farmers and realized what a difference it would make, if agricultural products, such as coffee, were processed in the country of origin. Then exported as a final product, instead of just being exported as raw materials. As a chocolate-lover, Hendrik’s attention fell upon the idea of producing chocolate from bean to bar in Africa. Many people told him, that shifting the value chain towards the countries of the Global South would not be possible. However, he started to explore possibilities to put his plan into action.
As life often goes, things were not planned as they eventually turned out. At first, Hendrik looked into the possibility of producing his chocolate in Sierra Leona. It is located geographically closer to Europe, in comparison to other cocoa producing countries. However, he soon needed to accept that there were too many challenges he could not tackle all at once. With luck and by knocking on many doors, a very important contact to Ghana was finally made. With the right partners to work with and with Ghana’s huge international harbour; directly located in the free trade zone, the shipping of the chocolate back to Europe should not be so difficult.
By producing in Ghana, we increase the local income by five times in comparison as if we would „just“ buy the cocoa beans for a „fair“ price.
What kind of direct relationship do you have with the farmers?
We visit Ghana on a regular basis to meet the farmers and visit their farms, as well as the factory. We enjoy having a close relationship to both the people who grow our beans and the people who produce our chocolate. This way we know that our effort is making a difference on the ground. In addition, we learn about the challenges they are facing. Together we tackle them one by one. As an example: Together with members of the cooperative, we developed the idea of planting coconut trees. This idea was born, because we learned from the farmers that coconuts are a popular snack and could provide additional income for the cocoa farmers. It would make them less dependent on the often fluctuating price for cocoa beans. So we put our heads together, handed out the first saplings to the farmers, and now we are excited to see how this project evolves!
COCOBOD, a governing body that regulates the price for cocoa, prevents the exploitation of farmers. Great, but how is it you can pay fairer than the law allows?
We are lucky to be working with the cooperative Yayra Glover. It is the only cooperative in Ghana which produces organic cocoa beans in large amounts. Due to this fact, we are allowed to pay a premium three times as high as the Fairtrade premium. This special agreement has been put into place between the cooperative and COCOBOD.
When we choose to buy Fair Trade products, are we really making an impact? Are Fair Trade standards enough?
In general, we believe that fair trade products are a better choice than conventional products. Fairtrade, as an organisation, has also helped to raise awareness about the situation of the farmers. However, it needs to be said that farmers who sell their cocoa for a „fair trade“ price, still live below the poverty line, as can be read in the most recent cocoa barometer. So, one could say that „Fairtrade“ is just a drop in the bucket, and by far not enough. That is why more and more producers (and consumers) find it important to have a personal relationship with their farmers. No wonder, the concept of direct trade has received more and more attention! Through direct trade, producers and farmers can establish a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship. Farmers can improve their skills and the producers have the chance to reimburse their farmers in a transparent and fair way.
Nevertheless, both fair trade as well as direct trade still focus on the farmers.
Why is having the whole chain production done in Ghana so valuable to Ghanaians and to Fairafric?
While it is incredibly important to pay the farmers a fair price, the real money is made from the production of the chocolate. Usually, this money is made, and remains, in Europe. By producing in Ghana, we increase the local income by five times vs. „just“ buying the cocoa beans for a „fair“ price. Producing in Ghana translates to the creation of still very rare middle-income jobs outside of the agricultural sector. As well as the establishment of local services and production structures. In addition, we find it very important that the idea „Made in Africa“ becomes a brand that is associated with high-quality (in our case: tasty) products. Eventually, we hope, Made in Africa will become the new normal instead of being something special. Only this way, poverty can be overcome in a sustainable way.
Fairafric Employees Benefits
How many countries do you ship to?
Our main market is the German-speaking market, with Germany, Austria and Switzerland. However, thanks to our crowdfunding campaign which made us well known all over the world (at least within the chocolate community), we also have supporters in Mexico, Australia or Canada. All in all, fairafric has been shipped to more than 50 different countries.
Where can I order my batch of chocolates?
You can order the chocolate online in our webshop. However, if you live in Germany, it’s worth checking out our storelocator. See if there is an organic food shop or „Weltladen“ (fair trade shop) selling fairafric close to you.