Divine Chocolate Company Supports Fair Trade

Yesterday evening, the CEO of Divine Chocolate, Erin E. Gorman, addressed a crowd in Sever Hall, telling students that her company’s chocolate can do as good as it tastes.

Divine Chocolate was established in the United States in 2007 after being founded in Britain nine years before. The company works with Kuapa Kokoo, a cocoa farmers cooperative in Ghana, to produce chocolate while promoting the social advancement and empowerment of farmers, especially women, Gorman said.

The talk was co-sponsored by the Harvard College Africa Business and Investment Club (HCABIC) and the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Association.

“We co-sponsored this event to get people to think about how fair trade helps local farmers and families,” CSA Vice President of Social Justice Nico R. Lewine ’10 said. “We wanted to show what this does for people.”

The cooperative has enabled farmers to have a say in a business that the government used to control.

“Cocoa involves lots of work with human hands in a long process,” Gorman said. “It is the work of millions of people who have touched these beans and have paid attention to them.”

The fair trade system ensures that cocoa farming organizations abide by certain social and environmental standards, such as ensuring the organization is democratically organized and that women are “empowered,” Gorman said.

“This is a special business model where lots of the margins go back to the ground,” HCABIC President Sara B. Cheche ’09 said.

Divine Chocolate works with 45,000 farmers in 1,200 village societies in Ghana and produces 10 percent of Ghana’s chocolate, Gorman said. The company works to ensure that farmers are a noticeable part of the business through advertising and seminars.

One audience member asked how the chocolate company’s image could compete with the stereotypical one of an attractive woman indulging in a “luxury.”

“Chocolate is about a lifestyle, about a feeling,” Gorman said. “We deliberately tried not to do any of that, and you get the luxuriousness by tasting the chocolate.”

Audience members were given samples on the way out and were able to taste the “luxuriousness” for themselves.