Cargill has established the first business skills program for cocoa farmer cooperative executives in Côte d’Ivoire with the launch of the Cargill Coop Academy.

The program, which is new and unprecedented in the cocoa sector, is the latest initiative under the Cargill Cocoa Promise and provides cooperative leaders with the management skills to make their organisations more professional, efficient and successful.

The Cargill Coop Academy provides cooperative managers with 28 days of intensive training, followed by a year of personalised and on-the-ground coaching.

The program includes training and support around good governance, the structure and principles of a cooperative, people management skills, improving operational management, enhancing financial and auditing techniques, and developing business and marketing plans.

"Supporting and strengthening farmer organisations is central to Cargill’s commitment to securing a long-term supply of high quality cocoa and to improving cocoa farmers’ livelihoods ", said Lionel Soulard, managing director Côte d’Ivoire, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.

"With our Coop Academy program, it is the first time this level and scale of training is offered to the cocoa sector. It provides cooperative leaders with the knowledge to improve the day-to-day running of their coop’s, and crucially enables them to develop the skills to grow their business successfully. Ultimately our customers will significantly benefit from this ground-breaking enterprise to sustain a high-quality supply of cocoa."

The Academy aims to reach over 400 cooperative leaders across 110 of Cargill’s partner cooperatives. The first 40 executives from 10 cocoa cooperatives recently graduated upon completion of the Cargill Coop Academy and were recognised during a ceremony in Abidjan. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, who said: "The Coop Academy initiative is in line with the vision of the President, His Excellency Mr. Ouattara, to make Côte d’Ivoire an emerging country by 2020. For an agricultural country like Côte d’Ivoire, this necessarily goes through the agricultural sector."

The Cargill Coop Academy has been developed in partnership with TechnoServe, a non-profit organization that develops business solutions to poverty, and INPHB (Côte d’Ivoire’s leading university), and is supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and Emerging Leaders, an NGO focused on bringing leadership training to farmer communities.