Modern slavery and illegal child labor still exist today. But they don’t have to. Modern slavery, illegal child labor and extreme poverty seem to be the symptoms of an underlying complex issue: the economic model of the cocoa industry, which is driven by maximum profit. Putting children and adults to work on cocoa plantations unpaid happens in a context of extreme poverty, and in an industry where profit maximization is paramount.
So here’s what we’re doing about it
At Tony’s we believe poverty, modern slavery, and illegal forms of child labor are unnecessary. The price farmers usually get paid for their cocoa make it impossible for them to escape the poverty trap, that’s true. But that’s why we pay additional premiums (Fairtrade, and the Tony’s Premium) to close the gap to a living income.
Of course, we don’t believe paying a higher price is enough. The price of cocoa is unstable, and right now farmers are often unable to produce enough cocoa to achieve a living income on cocoa alone. Which is why we encourage crop diversification – growing other things to sell, like bananas or something else – to reduce dependence on cocoa.
Sound familiar? That’s because paying a higher price, and encouraging higher productivity and crop diversification are two of the ingredients in our recipe for slave-free cocoa. That’s our way of making chocolate slave free. But other folks besides Tony’s are doing some important work too.
Who else is making change?
Every year we donate 1% of our revenue (you heard right, revenue not profit) to the Chocolonely Foundation. Despite what it sounds like, they’re actually a separate organization from Tony’s. The Chocolonely Foundation works to raise awareness about modern slavery and illegal child labor, inspires governments and companies to take action and builds strong cocoa communities in Ghana and Ivory Coast. They work on projects like the Choco Box Office, a local fund that supports entrepreneurs in a start up venture to supplement their cocoa income.
This year we’ve also committed $25,000 to Whole Planet Foundation. Whole Planet Foundation funds microcredit loans for entrepreneurs in impoverished areas to help them escape the poverty trap. They believe in giving people a hand up, not a hand out. Whole Planet Foundation does work all around the globe – so it’s a pretty big deal. But they also happen to work with entrepreneurs somewhere quite familiar to us: West Africa. Poverty is unnecessary
Together with Whole Planet Foundation, we want to prove that poverty is unnecessary. We believe that by following our recipe for slave-free chocolate, poverty on cocoa farms is unnecessary. Whole Planet Foundation works to prove that with the right resources, even some of the most impoverished people can escape the poverty trap. And for them, too, poverty is unnecessary.