International Dispatch

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Volume 9 Number 05, May 28, 2015

The sweet success
of value added cocoa 
This month we bring you a story from CCA's IMPACT project in Colombia.  Working with our partner GESTANDO this five-year project is helping to develop and support a strong co-op sector in rural Colombia.


Inspired by a meeting with cocoa producers, farmers in two rural co-operatives set out to try their hand at making chocolate. It was a good decision.  

The inspiration for this new co-op took hold during a study tour by co-op cocoa producers to see first-hand how cocoa was being transformed into chocolate in the town of Leiva, at the SENA chocolate factory. The two co-ops were producing cocoa but were not adding value to their product.  At the  factory they saw for themselves what happened to the product after harvest, how important it is for the farmers to practice good hygiene and sanitation levels, and how the product is dried and transported.  To say that the tour had an impact is an understatement. 
"We decided then and there to form a new co-op to focus exclusively on producing chocolate using our own cocoa," recalls Josť Alirio, the manager of the new COINTEBOY Co-op in Otanche, Boyaca, in the north-east of Colombia.  COINTEBOY stands for Cooperativa Integral Agro Industrial de Boyaca.

Cocoa into chocolate
The COINTEBOY chocolate packaged for use, Jose Alirio shows the raw cocoa used (top right), a co-op member display's some of the machinery purchased.

Josť says he realised from this tour that they did not need a lot of capital to produce table chocolate (
used for hot chocolate.)  The cocoa production was already being done to keep it as natural as possible. He says "the initial idea was to organize a committee in Cipotache," but because of a problem with a credit association [they did not have the correct requirements to be eligible for credit] it was decided to create a new co-op specialising in the production of cocoa.  "We started with 32 members, each contributing 500,000COP [approx. $250 CAD]." " We bought the basic machinery to start the chocolate production."


Josť and his fellow members made their first product in 2013, and began selling it as packaged chocolate bars and drinking chocolate through their co-op network of buyers.  COINTEBOY had help from GESTANDO (the Colombian co-operative sector's business development services organisation) and from the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) which was supporting GESTANDO's efforts to develop and link farmer associations in three departments of Colombia into successful, formally registered co-op enterprises. 

Success was certainly in the air.  Over a 20-day period the co-op sold 300 pounds of chocolate to their local market - aided by the co-op's partnership with a local radio personality who began to promote the brand on air talking about its natural properties, how it was produced locally and the social impact that could be gained from purchasing it.

By spring 2014, production was up and COINTEBOY's chocolate was selling in two local co-op supermarkets. COINTEBOY was keeping up with demand, selling 4000lbs of chocolate monthly ̩- slowly but surely growing their market. COINTEBOY chocolate could now be found in stores as far away as Bogota.

There were a host of challenges and obstacles along the way. Last October COINTEBOY resolved a branding issue. They secured INVIMA registration (from Colombia's national food and drug safety agency) and a nationally recognized scanbar code for their product. Producing a steady 4,000 pounds of product each month, and equipped with INVIMA certification, a bar code and new attractive packaging, COINTEBOY is now positioned to sell to other markets. GESTANDO is providing marketing training to help COINTEBOY reach and hold a sustainable position in those markets. 

Success breeds success. This is certainly true of GESTANDO and CCA, and their efforts to cultivate a strong co-op sector in rural Colombia. In partnership with the Colombian government, and with financial support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, they launched a five-year, $15 million project last year to take the co-operative development program that helped farmers like Josť and his fellow workers to farmers in an additional seven departments. The project, named IMPACT, will benefit 99,000 people in 16,500 households.  

For more info on the IMPACT project in Colombia click here:

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CCA is a not-for-profit
 co-operative with a mission to establish and grow
co-operatives internationally that build a better world.


To achieve this mission, CCA works closely with Canadian co-operatives and credit unions to channel their knowledge and experience to partner organizations and 
co-operatives in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Eastern Europe and Caribbean.