Reframed, cocoa & color by Joshua Kissi
In Tony’s Open Chain we are all connected.
From the cocoa farmers in West Africa to the serious friends who buy our chocolate. We know everyone by name.
We introduce to you Sarah, Jérôme, Eugénie, Didier, Martin, Assata, Emmanuel, Gaah, Romeo, Faustina, George, Daouda, Abraham and Stephen. Inspiring, successful, vibrant people working in cocoa in Ghana and Ivory Coast. And Rachid.. Sarah’s 6 year old son, who loves football and dancing.
They are Tony’s Chocolonely ambassadors for a more equally divided cocoa chain without child labour and modern slavery.
Abraham Gyimah Bugyei
Manager SED Consult, Abokobi, GhanaMy full story
Cocoa farmer and president of coop ECAM, Méagui, Ivory CoastMy full story
Cocoa farmer, Aponoapono, GhanaMy full story
Cocoa farmer and winner of the Best Farmer Award, Aponoapono, GhanaMy full story
George Odei Awuku
Cocoa farmer, Awiam, GhanaMy full story
Cocoa farmer and board member of coop ECOJAD, Zahia, Ivory CoastMy full story
Didier Digbeu Kakou
Cocoa farmer and winner of the Best Farmer Award, Bateguedea, Ivory Coast.My full story
Cocoa farmer and president of the Women Association of coop ECOJAD, Ziguedia, Ivory CoastMy full story
General manager cocoa exporter OCEAN, Abidjan, Ivory CoastMy full story
Manager coop ABOCFA, Suhum, GhanaMy full story
Romeo Alvares Wohi Teme
Administrative manager of coop ECOJAD, Daloa, Ivory CoastMy full story
Gaah John Wallis
Cocoa farmer and board member of coop ABOCFA, Safrosa, GhanaMy full story
Cocoa farmer and Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System administrator, Amanikro, Ivory Coast.My full story
Cocoa farmer, Awiam, GhanaMy full story
6 years, son of cocoa farmer Sarah Larweh, Awiam, GhanaMy full story
Abraham Gyimah Bugyei
Abraham Gyimah Bugyei is Manager at SED Consult in Ghana. SED stands for ‘Sustainable Empowerment and Development’. He completed a Master of Philosophy in social work at the university of Ghana.
He has always felt very strong about orphans who are often not well looked after. Putting children in foster homes can be a solution but it’s better to look for solutions within their families or communities as this makes them less vulnerable to be exposed to child labour or other hurtful treatments.
Abraham works closely with Tony’s Chocolonely and their partner coop ABOCFA. He organizes capability building trainings for the board as well as the farmers and a financial literacy training for the farmers. Last year, he has set up a farmer saving program, so they don’t depend too much on cocoa.
He is a married man with two adopted children. ‘Life is all about making impact’, he says.
‘You don’t wait for your own children before you impact lives. We share our experiences with them, so they can become responsible adults.’
Assata Doumbia is the president of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ECAM in Ivory Coast. She cultivates cocoa and rubber herself.
‘I have a passion for setting-up projects that give women more authority in the communities. I travel often to find new partners so that we are financially independent and can realize all our plans.’
Her favorite project is the one that stimulates male members to handover part of their land to their wives to make the women more financially independent.
She is also running several projects to fight against child labour. Apart from the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), she has set up a school fund together with the Chocolonely Foundation. In addition, she has used the Tony’s premium to construct a school and distributed thousands of school kits and uniforms to stimulate the education of children.
‘We also do a lot of awareness-raising activities at schools and in communities through theatre shows. This is done by women, as there is a higher trust level. For children it’s like their mum is talking to them.’
Emmanuel Ocloo is a cocoa farmer and member of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ABOCFA in Ghana. As a community facilitator he monitors and remediates child labour issues.
‘Being entrepreneurial is a must, as cocoa doesn’t generate a stable income throughout the year.’
Besides growing other crops, such as corn, cassava and plantain, he also runs a spot where he sells drinks. Recently, he decided to expand his business activities. He bought 1200 cocoa seeds at a price of 1 cedi (±0.20 euro) per 50 seeds. A lucrative business as he plans to sell the seedlings for 1 cedi a piece. Emmanuel also educates children on plastic waste and asks them to collect used plastic water sachets. He uses the sachets as flowerboxes for the seedlings. It’s all about ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.
He saves the money he earns at the bank for the education of his children.
‘It is through the premium paid by Tony’s Chocolonely that I can afford these projects. I urge other farmers to partake in these types of activities, so that Ghana can get cocoa to grow!’
Faustina Tei is a cocoa farmer and member of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ABOCFA in Ghana. She is a hard-working female farmer.
‘I farm cocoa and cassava, and sell fried yam and fish for a living. I involve myself in other income generating activities to have a back-up. Cocoa is seasonal.’
Faustina became the first best female farmer. She could have never imagined winning such a prize. The training helped her to improve her farming skills. But a lot of credits go to her husband. He taught her the most. He didn’t join the competition. The group suggested that he stood by as support.
‘As a role model, I encourage women to involve themselves in farming too. It will help them to be more independent. It can be a profitable business.’
The coming years she wants to acquire more land so she can produce more. Her four children all go to school.
‘I don’t want them to go into farming for now. After finishing school, they can choose whatever they want to do.’
George Odei Awuku
George Odei Awuku is cocoa farmer and member of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ABOCFA in Ghana. He is involved in many other businesses, like wood carving, to earn a living. He also works as a midwife in his community, just like his mom. So far, he has delivered about 500 babies.
‘One of your hands cannot close the eyes of God.’
Which means that in life you must focus on multiple activities. He is part of the farmer group ‘Do-good’. They have many other business ideas that could positively impact the environment. Together, they created their own ‘go to hell’ tool, which is a farming tool that can be used to harvest cocoa. They will seek for ways to sell it on the market.
He uses the premium paid by Tony’s Chocolonely to take care of the family. Recently, the coop funded a clinic with premium money. Ever since, George has been less busy as a midwife.
‘Personally, I would love to open a herbal clinic.’
Daouda Coulibaly is a cocoa farmer, hamlet delegate and board member of partner coop ECOJAD in Ivory Coast. During secondary school his father decided he should quit school and start cultivating coffee like him. When the price of coffee dropped, Daouda decided to go into cocoa.
First he was not happy to leave his education, but now he’s a happy man.
‘Growing cocoa has changed my life. I run my own company. My farm is my enterprise. I have two motors. I have friends with good jobs who do not own two motors.’
Daouda always wanted to become a journalist. He has not become one. He uses his talent writing about agricultural practices and hopes this will help the future generations.
‘My parents were illiterate. So, the least I can do is leave my trace behind. One day I will publish a book.’
I also want my children to be interested in agriculture. But school first. In the future they can find a job in agriculture.
Didier Digbeu Kakou
Didier Digbeu Kakou is a cocoa farmer and member of ECOJAD, Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop in Ivory Coast.
‘From a young age I knew that I wanted to work in cocoa. My father used to be a successful farmer. Actually, the second best of the region. He would travel all the way to Abidjan to get his hair cut. I decided to become as good as him, or even better!’
When Didier started farming he used different practices, better methods. Everybody laughed at him, but he ignored it. He started a nursery with new cacao plants and called everybody together to plant the small trees. He slept less and worked hard. Everyday, he asked the trainer what he could do extra.
‘Everybody was getting tired of me but that didn’t stop me.’
He was extremely happy when he won the award. He has won a motorbike and a trip to Amsterdam. Something his father never realized.
‘Everybody comes to me now for better farming practices. I help them and inspire them. I used to be nobody, now I’m somebody.’
Eugénie Lagos is president of the Women Association of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ECOJAD in Ivory Coast. She cultivates cocoa, cassava and rice. She took over her husband’s farm when he passed away.
The Women Association gives women a more powerful position in the communities and the coop. It has also resulted in more unity between the women.
The women farm together. They focus on diversification of crops to generate extra income. They started to grow cassava on their first farm with the support of the coop. Growing cassava used to be very lucrative. However, just like the price of cocoa, the price has decreased drastically. Therefore, the women are now creating a second farm to cultivate other crops.
The community projects of the coop funded with Tony’s premium have impressed her. Apart from the establishment of the women association they have rehabilitated the water pump in the village, constructed restrooms at the school and set up a nursery
‘With Tony’s there is hope.’
Martin Rossi is general manager at cocoa exporter OCEAN in Abidjan. He studied International Business in France and has worked in the exporting business of commodities for several years.
‘With Tony’s we have a long-term relationship. This enables us to move away from the ‘normal business model’ which often has a short-term, profit maximizing focus. It allows us to make long term investment in productivity, quality and the development of the cooperatives.’
Traceability is one of these investments. He feels more than proud about Tony’s traceable cocoa. It has really been a team effort. Direct relations are important. He always tries to find opportunities to visit the farmers. Last time was during the annual general meeting in Daloa. It was one big party…the people loved it. It was organized by the coops and funded by Tony’s.
‘DJ KEROZEN really did it.’
Stephen Ashia is manager of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ABOCFA in Ghana. His dad taught him to farm cocoa. His mum was a teacher and inspired him to go to teacher training college.
His passion for farming triggered him to go to the University of Cape Coast to study Agriculture. It’s tough… science, chemistry, biology and so much more.
‘But hey…, most of us have good jobs now. Some work for Cocobod, in the banking sector or abroad.’
Since a few years, he is the manager of a cocoa cooperative. It was a new position. The farmers are responsible for paying his salary of Tony’s premium. He was doubtful whether they were willing to do so. Now, years later he has achieved so much.
‘I am proud of the increase in members, productivity and the professionalization of the coop. We went from producing 50 tons to more than 1000 tons of cocoa a year. We have done some amazing projects together with Tony’s.’
Especially the rehabilitation of schools and the 100 weeks projects to stimulate female entrepreneurship had a great impact in the communities.
Romeo Alvares Wohi Teme
Romeo Alvares Wohi Teme is administrative manager of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ECOJAD in Ivory Coast. He’s in charge of everything related to certification and projects like the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System. He studied Human Resources and communication in Daloa.
He is passionate about his job and uses his study background to educate people and strengthen groups. Like this group of women who wanted to start farming tomatoes but did not have the means. He can now support them. He also likes to be a role model for the youth.
‘When I was younger there were no elders who advised me.’
He notices that the living conditions of people are really changing. More and more farmers are opening bank accounts and don’t have to ask the cooperative for loans. They are also working hard to reduce child labour.
‘Sometimes we present victims of child labour to the farmers to make them aware of the dangers.’
He believes that remediation will change things. But first they need to identify the cases.
Gaah John Wallis
Gaah John Wallis is a cocoa farmer and part of the board of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ABOCFA in Ghana. As community facilitator he monitors and remediates child labour issues. He used to work for the government in Accra. He came back to Suhum to farm cocoa after his retirement.
‘I love to educate young people.’
He also teaches parents at his hamlet about child trafficking. They should never trust anyone who asks them to take their kids away for money.
Gaah would like to see more women in the board of the coop as he believes that women are more flexible and bring in new ideas.
‘If you give a man and a woman both 400 cedis and return the next the day, the woman will still have the money in her pocket whereas the man has probably already spent it. Women are more responsible.’
‘Tony’s is a good friend of ABOCFA’, he says. ‘Can’t say a godfather, but it’s different from other buyers.’
Jérôme N’guessan works as a community facilitator for the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) at ECOJAD, Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop in Ivory Coast.
‘After high school I went to the university in Abidjan to do maritime studies. But the crisis hit us, so there were no jobs.’
Jerome decided to return to Daloa to become a cocoa farmer. He worked at his parents’ farm to learn the trade and inherited land to cultivate. His parents were members of ECOJAD. He joined the coop as well.
About two years ago, he heard coop members talking about the CLMRS and the search for trustworthy people with good reading and writing skills. He applied and got the job. He interviews farmer households and informs them about the risks related to child labour. The system is very relevant as it clarifies what is and isn’t allowed.
‘People recognize me here as the CLMRS guy and come to me with issues. The work is much appreciated! One day I would like to go back to Abidjan to pursue a more professional career in cocoa and child labour.’
Sarah Larweh is a cocoa farmer, shop owner and banana trader. As member of Tony’s Chocolonely’s partner coop ABOCFA in Ghana, she recently was elected board member and community facilitator to monitor and remediate child labour issues. Farmers reach out to her when they have issues or needs. She also supports the 100 weeks program in her community. This project is funded by the Chocolonely Foundation to reduce poverty and stimulate female entrepreneurship.
Sarah completed junior high school. But had to leave her education when her father passed away. She would have loved to go back to school.
‘The cocoa business has been helpful, but extra schooling could have brought me more.’
She inherited the farm from her dad. Her ambitions are to expand her farm from 6 to 10 acres and win the Best Farmer’s Award. The award motivates her to learn new techniques and apply better practices that do little harm to the environment.
Rachid Mohammed is the 6 year old son of cocoa farmer Sarah Larweh. He goes to a private school in Suhum. It’s a bit more expensive than public education. The school is quite far. That’s why he takes the bus every day.
‘I like school. My favorite courses are English and Science. But what I love most is football. I play it every day. As a central defender I really admire the Portuguese football player Pepe. We both wear number 5.’
If his football career is not going to be a success, he most likely will become a bus driver of one of the VIP busses. These are the big busses that drive between the big cities in Ghana.
‘I don’t really have a role model in this area. I admire my mum though. She works hard. She does a bunch of things like growing cocoa and selling drinks and biscuits.’
She bought him a small computer so that he learns how to use it. He loves to listen to songs on the computer. Mainly Ghanaian artists; Shatta Walle, Sarkody and Stoneboy.
‘When the music starts, I dance.’
Joshua Kissi, NYC born photographer with Ghanaian roots, whose work is known for breaking with stereotypes and inequality, went to Ghana and Ivory Coast and reframed cocoa & color. The colorful frames symbolize the openness and different perspectives of the people in Tony’s Open Chain. We framed power, positivity and progress.
Next to all ambassadors captured by Joshua’s camera, the crew who made Reframed possible consisted of Joshua Kissi, assistant/stylist Nana Kwasi Wiafe, filmmaker David Boanuh, and Diara and Pascal from Tony’s Chocolonely
With African beats we danced at the cocoa farms, in the streets of Accra and Abidjan, in the cocoa warehouse in the harbour. We laughed, we learned and made many new friends.Wanna join in?