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Ghana’s cocoa startup Koa secures backing from impact funds

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Published: 17 May 2022

The Landscape Resilience Fund and the IDH Farmfit Fund are investing in Swiss-Ghanaian cocoa social enterprise Koa to build new processing facilities and provide more income generating opportunities for farmers

By increasing production capacity, Koa will provide more income generating opportunities for Ghanian cocoa farmers like Kwati, Faustina and Akua (pictured) | KO Photography

The Landscape Resilience Fund (LRF) and the IDH Farmfit Fund are providing $3.5m (€3.4m) investment to Koa, a sustainable cocoa social enterprise in Ghana, to build a new processing facility.

By increasing production capacity, Koa will provide more income generating opportunities for Ghanaian cocoa farmers, whose lives are becoming more precarious due to the impact of climate change. 

Koa is a Swiss-Ghanaian startup whose facility in Assin Akrofuom, southern Ghana, makes products from cocoa fruit pulp that normally gets discarded, providing smallholders with extra income and cutting down on waste.  

“Making use of the previously lost cocoa pulp, we can increase and diversify smallholder farmers’ income. This investment in a new factory will create additional income for up to 10,000 cocoa farmers. Furthermore, the new production plant will create 250 jobs and new vocational opportunities for communities in rural Ghana,” Francis Appiagyei-Poku, finance director of Koa Impact Ghana, said.    

The Koa project, which currently employs 71 people in Ghana and Switzerland, extracts fruit pulp at local farms using mobile solar units, which is then pasteurised at the local plant, while the beans can be used for chocolate production as usual.

The pasteurised pulp can then be converted into an increasing range of products for international markets, including fruit juice and other soft drinks, ice cream, pastries and chocolate – including products made by Lindt and Sprüngli.  

“Koa’s innovation makes it possible for farmers to increase their income significantly by selling their waste product, without having to make additional investment costs at their farms,” said Barbara Visser, COO of the IDH Farmfit Fund. 

She said Koa’s targets of reaching more women farmers and creating gender equal employment opportunities in rural communities are a good fit with the core objectives of the fund. 

“These kind of disruptive and innovative solutions are key to catalyse the system change that is needed to improve the lives of these cocoa farmers,” she said. 

IDH Farmit and LRF

IDH Farmfit Fund, is part of IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative, a Utrecht-based organisation that supports sustainable trade. Donors include government institutions in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. The fund takes high risk positions in farmer-related transactions in order to reduce risk currently borne by borrowers and lenders in farming communities. By increasing the availability of affordable, long-term financing to smallholder farmers, the fund seeks to produce significant improvements in their livelihoods and incomes. 

The Landscape Resilience Fund is an independent foundation that aims to mobilise private and public climate finance for vulnerable smallholders and environments. The fund was launched in June 2021 by South Pole – a climate solutions social enterprise supported by the World Economic Forum – and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). LRF aims to mobilise $100m by 2025 for climate adaptation projects that support more sustainable agricultural and forestry supply chains and that protect smallholder farmers in developing countries.

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