Cocoa Innovator, Koa, Secures $3.5m Investment

Landscape Resilience Fund (LRF), and IDH Farmfit Fund announced a $3.5million investment (EUR 3.13million) in Koa, a sustainable cocoa company. 

This investment will allow Koa to build a new processing center in Ghana. It will double the production capacity and provide additional income to up to 10,000 cocoa growers.

As a young social enterprise committed to sustainability and creating shared value, Koa’s fresh look at the cocoa pulp as a source of value has immense potential to boost the incomes and resilience of smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana.

Commenting on the investment, Francis Appiagyei-Poku, Finance Director of Koa Impact Ghana said: “With the investment of the IDH Farmfit Fund as well as the Landscape Resilience Fund, we can extend our positive impact in new cocoa-growing regions in Ghana. Making use of the previously lost cocoa pulp, we can increase and diversify smallholder farmers’ income. This investment will provide additional income for as many as 10,000 cocoa farmers. Furthermore, the new production plant will create 250 jobs and new vocational opportunities for communities in rural Ghana.”

Over 270 million smallholder farmers lack affordable financing to invest in their farms, increase production, or transition to climate resilient agriculture. To meet this challenge, the Landscape Resilience Fund and the IDH Farmfit Fund are working to increase farmers’ income and improve their resilience in the face of climate change.

Sadiq Ashietu joined Koa Farmers this year. The income increase has allowed her to pay her labourers in time. She also has the ability to provide better support for her children at school, and she opened her own store. Sadiq said: “Concerning cocoa, we have noticed a decrease in theft cases because we harvest, break, and send them to Koa. Once they are processed, they are delivered back home for further processing. Now we have much more control over our beans than before.”

Sarah Afful, a cocoa farmer who lives in Assin Ayigbo and works with Koa, is concerned about the disruption to seasonal patterns. “I experience unusually heavy or lack of rainfall and that negatively affects my cocoa yield.” Using more of a cocoa farm’s potential in an efficient and sustainable way is therefore key to strengthen resilience.

Koa has opened a new, decentralised value chain for the cocoa pulp that was previously unutilized. It boosts farmer income as well as climate resilience. It firstly increases the income of cocoa farmer by transparently recording transactions and paying them immediately. This process decreases food waste by 40% and increases the land use of cocoa farmers.

This involves opening cocoa pods on the farm and extracting the pulp using mobile solar units from nearby communities. Then, it is pasteurized in a local factory, creating jobs in these rural areas.

This ingredient can be used to create a wide range of new products in the food industry, including juices, pastries, icecreams, and savoury items.

Koa also trains cocoa farmers in sustainable farming practices and post-harvest processing to help reduce the impact on the environment.

Barbara Visser, COO of the IDH Farmfit Fund, said: “Koa’s innovation makes it possible for farmers to increase their (living) income significantly by selling their waste product, without having to make additional investment costs at their farms. Koa also aims to provide equal opportunities for women in rural communities, and targets reaching 40% of all farmers. This is in line with the core objectives of IDH Farmfit Fund. We are very pleased that today’s investment will support Koa in responsible value creation in the cocoa supply chain. These kinds of disruptive and innovative solutions are key to catalyse the system change that is needed to improve the lives of these cocoa farmers.”

Commenting on the investment, Urs Dieterich, Managing Director of the Landscape Resilience Fund said: “Investing more in adaptation will help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. That’s what today’s investment is all about — supporting an inspiring, socially and environmentally grounded business to reach even greater heights and have even more climate impact. Climate adaptation is chronically underfunded. We must go further, faster, to ensure climate adaptation is a core pillar of our response to the climate crisis.”

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