World Cocoa Foundation

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) represents up to 80% of the global cocoa and chocolate market. WCF’s aim is for a thriving and sustainable cocoa sector where farmers and communities prosper, and the environment is not damaged. This vision is achieved by focusing on Women’s Economic Resilience (WER), while adhering to Step 4: Track Implementation and Results of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process.

In 2009, WCF launched a 10-year initiative, the Cocoa Livelihoods Programme, which primarily addressed improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. From 2014, the programme leveraged its capacity building efforts to include women farmers in the sector through funding by the Walmart Foundation. The main goals consisted of increasing women farmer training and cocoa productivity on farms as well as more prosperous and food-secure households. These were achieved through a detailed stepwise process and in collaborations with several partners such as the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT).

Impact assessment activities

The WCF’s impact assessment activities included (amongst others):

  • Baseline study: a baseline statistical sample was taken, using gender-disaggregated household data and including food-crop farm assessments
  • Gender programming mid-term evaluation: WCF and the KIT conducted mid-term evaluations to assess progress, and what adjustments needed to be made for the remainder of the programme.
  • Cocoa derivatives market assessment: this study identified opportunities for women farmers to generate more income. It also discovered that more support was needed to enhance women’s entrepreneurial and bargaining skills.
  • Women’s income survey: this mid-term survey investigated the impact of gender-focused activities on farmers’ income.
  • VSLA positive deviance study:  success women’s savings groups (“tontine”) in Cameroon were studied to better understanding the underlying conditions for success.

The main goals [of the programme] consisted of increasing women farmer training and cocoa productivity on farms as well as more prosperous and food-secure households.


These varying assessments and studies gave WCF valuable insights into the success or failure of certain activities and what adjustments needed to be made. Consequently, there have been numerous adaptations to ensure the success of the main goals. The most relevant being effective capacity building of women farmers and training women in farm management.

Effective capacity building of women farmers: by 2019, WCF had trained 43,122 women farmers in good agricultural practices, far surpassing their initial goal of 15,000. This success was due to the reflective approach that was implemented throughout the 10-year process. A Women Extension Volunteers (WEV) approach was also implemented. It selected women leaders to have additional training that allowed them to better mobilise other women in their communities.

Training women in farm management: Since 2016, WCF has facilitated farm management and entrepreneurship training of approximately 10,000 women farmers. Yet, this reached the more literate farmers, which raised concerns about the exclusion of less literate women. Therefore, WCF is currently developing a simplified and gender-inclusive manual to ensure greater accessibility.

“The program became aware of the importance of associating women in the scheduling process to ensure that they were held at periods of the day when women had the most freedom to attend.”

Application to other enterprises

WCF has shown how Gender-Responsive Due Diligence is an ongoing process that requires monitoring and evaluation. It is vital for the processes to be implemented correctly and in line with Responsible Business Conduct to ensure success for the whole enterprise. If a similar gender-based, reflexive process is applied by other enterprises then this will allow for sectors to have better and sustainable growth.

This case study was written in collaboration with Plan International and Partnering for Social Impact.