In 2013, Alterfin decided to fund the organization Ecookim in Ivory Coast for the third time. This union of eight Ivorian cocoa cooperatives numbers more than 2,800 farmers. Under the motto “unity is strength”, Ecookim is looking to improve their activities and quality of life. Alterfin is proud to contribute to this vision.
Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa, accounting for nearly 40% of the world production. Cocoa is almost exclusively produced on small farms and more than one million families depend on the income of cocoa. Alterfin first funded the union in the autumn of 2011. In 2012, Alterfin decided to repeat its support to this organization by providing a second loan.
Increase farmers’ incomes to improve their lives
The main target of Ecookim is selling cocoa beans along with its mission to increase farmers' incomes and improve the position of small farmers in the cocoa sector. The organization groups its purchases of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, bags, etc.) and services (transport, treatment plant, etc.). The union also provides operational support to cooperatives and technical assistance to producers.
Ecookim goes fairtrade
Furthermore, since 2010, Ecookim went ‘fair trade’. It has helped its members to get the FLO (Fair Trade Labelling Organization) Fairtrade label and more than three quarters of the last harvest was sold in the fair trade circuit. ‘Fair trade’ buyers pay a premium in addition to the Fairtrade minimum price for the producer group. Ecookim decided to use the FLO premiums of 2010 and 2011 (over 310,000 EUR) to finance technical assistance to producers (33%), build additional warehouses to store the cocoa beans at cooperatives’ level (32%) and create a fund for loans to members (35%).
The Alterfin factor
Alterfin, and from 2012 on, also Fefisol are the first international financial institutions to support Ecookim. In the past, Ecookim depended mostly on the funding provided by local buyers, putting the organization in a weaker bargaining position. Thanks to the Alterfin funding, Ecookim can sell its beans under better conditions on the export market and is less dependent on the local buyers.
Alterfin renewed its credit to help Ecookim for the next harvest and increased the loan by 200,000 EUR to a total amount of 350,000 EUR. Alterfin’s suggestion to Fefisol to also increase their loan to Ecookim from 450,000 to 700,000 EUR was approved. With these loans, Alterfin wants to support the union in its target to further develop its activities and contribute to the improvement of the lives of thousands of farmers in Ivory Coast.