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Project Hope and Fairness
Tom Neuhaus founded Project Hope and Fairness, an organization that, for the past 11 years, has been working with West African villages to develop chocolate production facilities so that cocoa farmers can process and sell their own chocolate instead of selling the cocoa and earning little to no profit. Tom has successfully set up chocolate production operations in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and is looking to set up production in Cameroon. Production is going well in Ghana, but there are so problems with the business side of things. Tom receives reports each month about how much chocolate was produced, how much was sold, etc. and they provide him with the information he needs, but not in the proper way and not with as much detail as they should. Teaching the Ghanaians some basic business and accounting skills will not only help them but it will help Tom, too. Also, to sell more chocolate, a business license must be obtained from the Ghanaian government. Right now, most of the chocolate is sold to local farmers, and since they can’t afford to buy chocolate very often or at all, not much chocolate is being sold. If a business license is obtained, they can sell chocolate at nearby gas stations and tourist destinations.
African Culture – Ghana, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast
talk about family, health, jobs before discussing business
exchange business cards using right hand or both hands, don’t use just the left
License from Ghanaian government….Shawn @ ProWorld
Work with Marcia in Cameroon
We are no longer focused on creating an instruction manual for the chocolate-making process. We had another meeting with Dr. Neuhaus and it came to light that remembering the process was not where the problems lie. The chocolate making operation on the Ivory Coast has been going relatively smoothly while the operation in Ghana has been suffering. One of the problems in Ghana is that the cocoa farmers are currently only able to sell to other farmers in the area, but farmers often do not have the funds available to purchase chocolate. The Ghanian cocoa farmers would be a lot more successful if they could sell their chocolate at the local gas station that serves as a crossroads between major cities or at other tourist locations. To a tourist, paying one dollar for a hand-crafted African chocolate bar is next to nothing. The reason that the Ghanian cocoa farmers are unable to sell at these locations is that the Ghanian government requires that these people have a type of “business license” to be able to sell and not be reprimanded by the government. Dr. Neuhaus gave us the contact information of Shawn at ProWorld: an organization that brings students to Ghana to study abroad and do internships while helping the developing world. Unfortunately, the email that he gave us was defunct and when we looked on the ProWorld website, her email was also not working. We sent an email to the general inbox for the Ghana office of ProWorld and we are waiting to hear back. We hope that Shawn can give us some information on how the policies with obtaining a business license in Ghana work and what we can do (if anything) to expedite this process. The other problem that has been encountered in Ghana and the Ivory Coast is that the farmers’ business and accounting knowledge does not exist. They do not know how to balance accounts or to see how much of a profit they made after taking out the money that they spent on raw materials. If we want to pursue this avenue, we will have to make contact with some accounting professional who would want to go into Ghana to teach accounting basics to these cocoa farmers.
Challenges We’re Facing
It’s difficult to communicate with the people involved with this project since most are in Africa. We emailed numerous people and received only one response. Also, it’s often difficult to communicate with Tom.
Marcia Alvarez (Ms.)| Consultant
Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV Project
Plan Cameroon- Bamenda Program Unit
Wum District Hospital | Wum, Cameroon
Tom connected us with Marcia who is currently in Cameroon working with the organization Plan International. Plan International is interested in making sure children’s rights are protected and to help get them out of poverty. The organization has 8 core areas to work on: education, health, water and sanitation, protection, economic safety, emergencies, child participation, and sexual health (including HIV). She has been working with different women’s groups and the Engaging Men’s/Boy’s Club in Wum Health District to see if they are interested in chocolate production. She has met with the Divisional Delegate for MINPROFF (Ministry of Women’s Empowerment & the Family), the President of Friends’ Kids (local NGO for youth welfare), and Precious Sisters (support group for women living with HIV) to determine how many communities are interested in establishing an income-generating activity making chocolate. She said there are currently 7 groups in 4 different health areas that are interested, and the numbers seem to be growing.
She also explained that there are five areas in the Wum Health District that grow cocoa and that many of the Engaging Men’s Club members are actually cocoa farmers. She said they were very enthusiastic about being able to process their own cocoa instead of selling it and making little profit.
Since she is in direct contact with cocoa farmers, we gave her some questions for them. She said she will interview as many cocoa farmers as she can and get back to us. Unfortunately, she said we’d hear back from her during the 3rd or 4th week of November, which is kinda late in the quarter, but we can work with it.
The questions we have for the cocoa farmers include:What are their biggest struggles throughout the day? What are any problems they consistently have with farming and processing cocoa? What process happens after the cocoa is farmed? Who do they sell to? Who is doing the majority of the labor?
Marcia is excited to get this project going and we hope to work with her and Dr. Neuhaus to bring another chocolate making operation to Cameroon. Also, because the main goal of plan is to protect children, there is no fear of them being exploited to make this chocolate and fits in well with Tom’s vision.