“The CocoaLink program’s success of improving the lives of small-holder cocoa farmers, their families and communities is directly attributable to the power of its public-private partnership,” said Mike Wege, Senior Vice President, Chief Growth & Marketing Officer at The Hershey Company. “We are honored by today’s recognition and thank our partners, particularly the Ghana Cocoa Board and the World Cocoa Foundation, for their efforts in connecting more than 1,700 cocoa communities across Ghana. From the beginning, we believed that a public-private approach would be the most effective way to use mobile technology to improve farming and communities while enhancing literacy and digital learning.”
Given by The University of Virginia Darden School of Business' Institute for Business in Society, Concordia, and the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, the P3 Impact Award was created to recognize and honor the examples of public-private partnerships (P3) that have had the greatest impact on improving communities and the world. The award recognizes the best practices and actionable insights in the public-private partnership arena, which includes any collaboration that features public, private, nonprofit, or non-governmental organizations and addresses societal problems.
CocoaLink Improving Lives
Started in 2011, CocoaLink is a partnership between Hershey, the Ghana Cocoa Board and the World Cocoa Foundation. It provides a free, two-way information exchange between cocoa experts and cocoa farmers located throughout Ghana. Cocoa experts create weekly text and voice messages based on the cocoa-growing calendar and farmers use their own mobile phones to register for and receive the messages. An independent, three-year study this year in 15 villages concluded that CocoaLink “significantly improved the behavior and livelihoods” of cocoa farmers who received weekly messages on best farming and labor practices compared to farmers who did not enroll in CocoaLink. Farmers in CocoaLink communities increased their yields by 45.6 percent in three years, the pilot study concluded.
More than 90 percent of Ghanaian cocoa farmers regularly use mobile phones, signifying the sweeping technological changes in rural Ghana. CocoaLink provides timely messages on planting, pruning, fertilizer use, labor, and improving farmer and family safety. One-third of CocoaLink users are women, reflecting the progress of Hershey and its partners’ efforts to address gender equality by providing practical, useable information to women cocoa farmers in isolated communities.
“It is truly an honor to see our CocoaLink program recognized by the Institute for Business in Society, Concordia and the U.S. Department of State,” said Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, Chief Executive of the Ghana COCOBOD. “We believe the positive impact of this program in modernizing cocoa farming and improving the lives of cocoa families and their communities shows the tremendous power of public-private partnerships. It has been an honor to work together with the World Cocoa Foundation and The Hershey Company to improve the lives of 50,000 Ghana cocoa farmers and their families.”
CocoaLink public and private partners include Ghana Cocoa Board, World Cocoa Foundation, Hershey, Cargill/Ghana, World Education and Dream Oval.
The P3 award is judged by an independent panel of public-private partnership experts to review and assess applications based on the award criteria. Judging criteria includes:
- Strength of the cross-sector partnership
- Measurable impacts
- Economic and/or social benefits
- Improved service delivery
- Innovative features
- Financial effectiveness
CocoaLink is part of The Hershey Company’s 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy, the company’s roadmap helping cocoa communities around the world grow sustainable cocoa for the next century. CocoaLink and all of the programs in Hershey’s 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy are part of a broader collaborative industry approach to cocoa sustainability called CocoaAction, the industry’s strategy for improving cocoa farms and communities in West Africa. Hershey is a founding member of CocoaAction.
About The Hershey Company
The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY), headquartered in Hershey, Pa., is a global confectionery leader known for bringing goodness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints and other great-tasting snacks. Hershey has approximately 13,000 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company, which has more than 80 brands worldwide that drive over $7.1 billion in annual revenues, includes such iconic brand names as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. Hershey is focused on growing its presence in key international markets while continuing to build its competitive advantage in North America. Additionally, Hershey is poised to expand its portfolio into categories beyond confectionery, finding new ways to bring goodness to people everywhere.
At Hershey, goodness has always been about more than delicious products. For 120 years, Hershey has been committed to good business by operating fairly, ethically and sustainably to make a positive impact on society. This means contributing to a better life for its employees, consumers, communities, and, ultimately, creating a bright future for children in need. This commitment is exemplified by Milton Hershey School, established in 1909 by the company's founder and administered by Hershey Trust Company. The children who attend the school receive education, housing, and medical care — thriving as direct beneficiaries of The Hershey Company's success.