Despite its delicious taste, chocolate does more harm than good when it’s sourced unethically, but ethical chocolate can transform impoverished cocoa-producing communities into thriving ones... just ask Mayra!Mayra wasn't sure she'd be able to afford to keep her kids in school. But today, with help from World Vision, she operates a successful cocoa-producing business that helps her provide for her family. Photo: World Vision.
When mother-of-three Mayra, was faced with a depleted family income she worried that her children might miss out on their education and the chance to reach their full potential.
“I always wanted my children to study because if you don´t study, you are nobody,” said Mayra, who lives in rural Ecuador. But her husband’s low paying seasonal work meant the family only had $50 or $60 a week during good times and nothing for up to three months in the winter.
So Mayra looked for ways to lift the family’s income. She found other women in her cocoa-growing community who wanted similar opportunities.
Together they became part of a World Vision project promoting fair trade goods.
The group of 20 women were taught to make cocoa cakes, cocoa powder, chocolates and candies. They also learned how build their own business, and market their products.
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An Entrepreneurial Attitude
A few months later the women opened their business, contributing part of the set up investment themselves.
"It seemed impossible to gather the money but we saved our earnings,” recalls Mayra.
World Vision contributed equipment and materials to support the women’s initiative and helped the women bring their products to the markets in nearby Quito. Two years after the business started, Mayra earns around $30 to $40 a month; she is using this money to keep her sons in school.
Lifting Themselves Out of Poverty
Mayra’s story is just one way World Vision works to help families and small producers get a fair price for their labour and lift themselves out of poverty.
On the other side of the world and from the other end of the cocoa supply chain, World Vision’s advocacy campaign has encouraged chocolate manufacturers to source and certify fair trade cocoa, such as those being produced in Manabi. Ethical certification of the community’s cocoa provides greater assurance for consumers that, families like Mayra’s are receiving a fair price for their labour.
Today World Vision launched its Good Chocolate Guide to help Canadians shop for Valentine’s treats they can trust not to contain any dark secrets. Whether they’re on-line or in line, shoppers can use the mobile-friendly guide to find chocolate products that are ethically certified to be child-labour free.
“I’m so proud,” says Mayra, “because nobody ever thought this could be possible. And also, this helps our kids, because they can be healthier, they can go to school and we are thankful.”