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Our Story

This is the amazing story of a group of cocoa farmers in Ghana who voted to set up their own chocolate company and launched the first farmer-owned Fairtrade chocolate product aimed at the mass market in the UK. Browse the timeline below to find out more.

Slide 1993 AN INSPIRING START In the early 1990s, structural changes in the cocoa market in Ghana prompted Nana Frimpong Abebrese to begin creating a farmer-owned company to help farmers sell their own cocoa. Nana was a visionary farmer representative and independent representative of COCOBOD (a Ghanaian government-controlled institution that fixes the buying price for cocoa in Ghana). With the support of Twin Trading, a fairtrade company aiming to support cocoa farmers, Nana and a group of other farmers found ways to ensure the net gains of the company would belong to farmers, farmers could be paid in cash, and fair trade premiums could be invested in social programs. Slide 1997 GOOD COCOA FARMER
To ensure more benefits for cocoa farmers, a new co-operative of cocoa farmers called Kuapa Kokoo is established on Fairtrade principles. The co-operative was named by Hannah, Nana Frimpong Abebrese’s wife; kuapa kokoo means ‘good cocoa farmer’ in the local language of Twi. The co-op’s mission has the welfare of its farmer members at its heart and aims to empower them in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood. With support from NGOs like Twin Trading, and SNV, Kuapa Kokoo initially started with a membership of 2,000 farmers from 22 villages, and was soon certified to sell Fairtrade cocoa, which would bring them a social premium they could invest in their farms and communities.
Slide 1998 PA PA PAA - THE BEST OF
THE BEST
The farmers vote at their annual general meeting (AGM) to set up a chocolate company of their own in the UK. Instead of aiming for the niche market, the co-op decides to produce a mainstream Fairtrade chocolate bar to compete with other brands. Kuapa Kokoo’s motto is pa pa paa - which means ‘the best of the best’ in the local Twi language.

Slide 1998 A BRAND NEW DAY Twin Trading and Kuapa Kokoo launch The Day Chocolate Company in the UK. It is named in memory of Richard Day, a key member of the team at Twin which helped Kuapa Kokoo develop its organisation. The Day Chocolate Company receives enthusiastic support from The Body Shop, Comic Relief, Christian Aid and the Department for International Development in the UK. Kuapa initially own 33% of the shares of the company.

Slide 2002 IT'S LAUNCH DAY
The Day Chocolate Company launches its first chocolate bar. The brand name Divine is created, and the first bar is “Divine Fairtrade Milk Chocolate.” Several months later, the bar can be found on supermarket shelves across the UK.
Slide 2002 CO-OP TO CO-OP Co-op, a leading Fairtrade retailer in the UK converts their entire own label block chocolate to Fairtrade certified using the cocoa supplied from Kuapa Kokoo, a fellow co-operative. Slide 2006 BROADCASTING TO
THE NATION
Divine invites two women farmers over from Kuapa Kokoo and they appear on national breakfast TV to tell the UK about their lives, the difference Fairtrade makes - and to promote their own chocolate - Divine. Since then Kuapa farmers have come to the UK each year for Fairtrade Fortnight and been given the platform to talk to diverse audiences from schoolchildren to MPs, and have since also travelled around the world to tell their story.
Slide 2007 A DIVINE DONATION One of the original Day Chocolate founders, The Body Shop, donates its shares in the company to the members of Kuapa Kokoo, after being bought by L’Oreal. This donation gives the farmers' co-operative an even bigger stake: 45% of the company. Slide 2007 EVEN MORE DIVINE Day Chocolate changes its name to Divine Chocolate Ltd to more closely align the company with the flagship brand. At the same time, the brand undergoes a major redesign to better communicate its quality and unique credentials, and signal its Ghanaian ownership with a pattern of West African Adinkra symbols. Divine also gains a new partner, an international developmental finance organisation called Oikocredit.

Slide 2008 A HISTORIC MOMENT In 2006, Divine Chocolate turns a profit for the first time. As a result, Sandy Balfour, the then Chairman of Divine, is able to hand over the first dividend cheque to Kuapa Kokoo at its Annual General Meeting in 2007. It was a great moment in chocolate history and a big step towards achieving Divine’s mission. Slide 2009 COMFORT AT THE
WHITE HOUSE
Divine Chocolate launches in the United States. This is made possible due to the backing of the newest partner, Oikocredit. The announcement is made by Kuapa Kokoo farmer Comfort Kumeah on Valentine’s Day at a White House briefing on Capitol Hill. It serves as the perfect moment to introduce chocolate lovers in the United States to “heavenly chocolate with a heart”. Comfort commented, “what an extraordinary example for other cocoa farming women.”
Slide 2010 CATALYST FOR CHANGE Divine succeeds in its ambition to be the catalyst for change in the chocolate industry by growing a market for Fairtrade chocolate and creating a supply chain with the capacity to support a large mainstream brand. This socially and economically sustainable business model supports the needs of farmers first, providing opportunities for growth and success in local communities. Kuapa Kokoo, and others, continue to benefit from this positive change. Slide 2013 EMPOWERING WOMEN Kuapa Kokoo elects its first woman president. A great testament to all the work Divine and Kuapa Kokoo have done together to ensure women farmers are empowered and have a greater say in their co-op and communities. Slide 2015 WE SAY NO TO PALM OIL Divine brings out the first caramel-filled chocolate bar with no palm oil - and delicious it is too. It was the starting point of Divine’s decision to stop using palm oil in any of its products - better for the forest, better for wildlife and better for you!

Slide 2016 COMING TOGETHER Divine Chocolate merges its UK and USA businesses.

Slide 2018 DIVINE BECOMES
A B CORP
Divine is audited and certified as a B Corporation - joining the growing movement of thousands of companies worldwide who are signed up to use business as a force for good.



Slide 2018 A SWEDISH MOVE Divine Chocolate acquires Swedish Fairtrade company House of Fairtrade. House of Fairtrade sells a range of fair trade handicrafts supporting artisan producers across the world and has distributed Divine chocolate in Sweden for the last 15 years. The move enables both companies to continue supporting Fairtrade producers and World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) artisan members around the world.




Slide 2019 CHOCOLATE ISLAND Divine Chocolate UK launches a new range of delicious high cocoa Organic and Fairtrade certified dark chocolate bars with specially sourced cocoa from São Tomé, a small island off the west coast of Africa. Divine is excited to be working with CECAQ-11 co-operative, made up of 1135 members across 20 village associations. Once the world's biggest exporter of cocoa, São Tomé is fondly known as the ‘Chocolate Island’.

Slide 2020 CELEBRATING 20 YEARS Divine Chocolate officially celebrates 20 years of championing cocoa farmers!
We exist to help end exploitation in the cocoa industry. We champion the needs of farmers, enabling them to thrive and prosper and together build a sustainable and fair world,

Doing Business Differently

Divine Chocolate is a global, farmer-owned chocolate company. We use the amazing power of chocolate to delight and engage.

In the early 1990s, structural changes in the cocoa market in Ghana prompted Nana Frimpong Abebrese to begin creating a farmer-owned company to help farmers sell their own cocoa. Nana was a visionary farmer representative and independent representative of COCOBOD (a Ghanaian government-controlled institution that fixes the buying price for cocoa in Ghana). With the support of Twin Trading, a fairtrade company aiming to support cocoa farmers, Nana and a group of other farmers found ways to ensure the net gains of the company would belong to farmers, farmers could be paid in cash, and fair trade premiums could be invested in social programs.

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