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.
Years later, I wanted to ask what positive impact has been made to 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 some point in his life, fairafric’s founder Hendrik was wondering why there was such a big gap between poor and rich countries, and why so many of the poor countries can be found in Africa. He was trying to determine why it was possible that a somewhat colonial system can continue to exist, exploiting the Global South for the benefit of the countries in the Global North. During a trip he did back in 2013 to East Africa, he met coffee farmers and realised that it could make a big difference if agricultural products, such as coffee, would be processed in the country of origin itself and exported as actual products instead of just being exported as raw materials. As a chocolate-lover, Hendrik’s attention soon was laid upon the idea of producing chocolate from bean to bar in Africa. While many people told him, that shifting the value chain towards the countries of the Global South would not be possible, 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 possibilities to produce his chocolate in Sierra Leona as it is located closely 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. By chance, he met somebody who knew somebody and all of a sudden, a very important contact to Ghana was made. Despite the fact, that Hendrik found the right partners to work with in Ghana, the country also offers some logistic benefits: With its huge international harbour directly located in the free trade zone, the shipping of the chocolate back to Europe is comparatively easy.
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 are visiting Ghana on a regular basis. When we are there, we meet both the farmers and visit their farms, as well as visit 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 also learn a lot from the people in Ghana. We learn about the challenges they are facing and together we can try to tackle these challenges. As an example: Together with members of the cooperative we have developed the idea of planting coconut trees. This idea was born because we learned from people in Ghana that coconuts are a popular snack and could provide additional income for the cocoa farmers. On top of that, 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, 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 in the lucky situation 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 actual 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 in comparison as if we would „just“ buy 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 service 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’ll also be worth to check out our storelocator and see if there is an organic food shop or „Weltladen“ (fair trade shop) selling fairafric close to your home.