The jolt of the wheels hitting tarmac brought me out of my nap. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Kumasi. The temperature outside is 24 deg. C”. My first day visiting partners in Ghana was underway. We were up at 5:30 this morning to catch an early flight to Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city which is about 270 km away from the capital, Accra.
Today, we are visiting Kuapa Kokoo. Kuapa Kokoo has been an Oikocredit partner since 2011, and indirectly since 2006, as Oikocredit then co-invested in Divine Chocolate, which had been owned by Kuapa Kokoo sine 1998. Kuapa Kokoo is a cooperative of cocoa farmers organized at the base level into 1,400 societies which are brought together into 57 districts. Kuapa Kokoo today has some 87,000 members – majority of whom work an average of 2-3 acres.
As a cooperative Kuapa Kokoo seeks to bring all cocoa producers together, educate members on the need for new technical ideas on the production of cocoa and help members to undertake other income generating activities during the off-farm season to earn extra income.
We dropped our bags off at the hotel, grabbed a quick breakfast and made our way to the Kuapa Kokoo offices where the management team and members of the National Executive Council (NEC) received us. Fatima Ali, interim president, opened the meeting.
I was one of a party of three – Maria Koramoa, Ghana country manager, Aïda Gueye, West Africa regional capacity building/social performance management coordinator and myself – visiting a number of partners which had received capacity building support in the past 24 months. The Kuapa NEC and management team had received a financial training for non-financial managers in 2012. This was followed by a workshop on governance. We were here to see if these initiatives had a sustained impact on the organization and get an update on how Kuapa Kokoo is doing.
An NEC member shared, “Before, when the financials were presented by management, the NEC was quiet - no questions were asked. After the training, we developed new reporting formats which also facilitate our understanding of the financials.”
The NEC is now actively involved in monitoring budgets, targets, expenses. Costs are controlled better. The union’s representative to the board of Divine Chocolate (Kuapa Kokoo has a 45% stake in Divine) can also participate more effectively at that level.