The consortium has won EUR 1 million in match-funding from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to deploy a ground-breaking collaboration with Mars, Save the Children, Grow Asia and the Partnership for Indonesia’s Sustainable Agriculture (PISAgro).
The consortium leads the GrowHer:Kakao program which aims to improve the rights, representation, and access to resources for 4,000 women-led cacao businesses in South Sulawesi.
The project is co-financed by Grow Asia’s GrowHer Impact Fund, which supports public-private partnerships that amplify the business case for women’s economic empowerment, incentivizing public and private investment in actions, practices, and policies that promote diversity and inclusion.
South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 3 October 2023 – Grow Asia has launched a ground-breaking public-private initiative with Mars, Save the Children and PISAgro. The collaboration is set to transform cacao supply chains in Indonesia by empowering 4,000 women smallholders and entrepreneurs in North and East Luwu, South Sulawesi. The GrowHer:Kakao project is managed by Grow Asia, and co-funded by Mars and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The program will be delivered in partnership with Save the Children Indonesia and the Partnership for Indonesia’s Sustainable Agriculture (PISAgro).
Indonesia’s cacao industry relies heavily on small farms of 2 hectares or less. Among them, approximately 32% of farmers (450,000) are women. These women play essential roles as farmers, household decision-makers, and financial managers. The GrowHer:Kakao project empowers women as leaders in agriculture, ensuring their voices are represented and heard in crucial business decisions, such as adoption of climate smart practices and crop diversification. Empowering women as leaders in agriculture will ensure a more secure, resilient, and sustainable cacao supply in the region.
Grow Asia’s Executive Director, Beverley Postma, highlighted the importance of diverse actors coming together to deliver impact, stating, “At Grow Asia, we firmly believe that investing in women is instrumental in unlocking the full potential of the agricultural sector. To do that, we must unite our efforts. Grow Asia excels at building public-private partnerships among diverse actors to drive transformative change.”
Amber Johnson, Global Vice President - Cocoa, Mars, stated, “At Mars, we know the value that gender equality and economic empowerment can have, and see this as foundational to our ‘Cocoa for Generations’ Strategy and achieving our vision for a modern, sustainable and inclusive Cocoa ecosystem where everyone thrives. Promoting equal voice, opportunity and decision making in the cocoa supply chain – at all levels – will help achieve long term and sustained benefits for everyone and increase the prospects for a thriving and prospering cocoa sector. ‘GrowHer:Kakao’ is one such program that helps us get closer to a sustainable and inclusive cocoa supply chain.”
Interim CEO of Save the Children Indonesia, Ukar Kurwiany, said, “Our experience in smallholder farming communities has revealed that women actively participate in agricultural work, but they often face limited access to leadership roles and economic development opportunities. By providing them with a level playing field, we can unleash their full potential and bring about exponential benefits for both them and their households. This, in turn, will contribute to better health, education, and security for their children.”
The GrowHer: Kakao project was the recipient of a EUR1 million grant as part of the Initiative Feminist & Fair: the Future of Agricultural Supply Chains, which is organized by GIZ’s Global Programme AgriChains. The initiative focuses on women’s resources, rights, and representation, in alignment with Germany’s feminist development policy. Hendrike Braun-Issa, Lead for Feminist & Fair, GIZ stated, “We are thrilled to have GrowHer:Kakao as one of the two flagship projects within the Feminist & Fair Initiative. GrowHer: Kakao demonstrates the potential that can be unlocked through collaborative efforts between public- and private sector to meaningfully impact the lives of thousands of women farmers, pushing for more agency and representation across all sectors of society.”
GrowHer: Kakao is a project financed by Grow Asia’s GrowHer public-private Impact Fund, which aims to amplify the business case for women’s economic empowerment, incentivizing public and private investment in actions, practices, and policies that promote diversity and inclusion. The GrowHer fund is anchored by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Vicki Singmin, Canadian Ambassador to ASEAN, stated, “We are delighted to witness projects like GrowHer: Kakao which highlight the impact that public-private financing can have on farmers’ livelihoods and the environment. By supporting the GrowHer Impact Fund, Canada is helping to build an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment in the region.”
As an early contributor to Grow Asia’s GrowHer fund, Visa also recognizes the importance of empowering women in agriculture. Patsian Low, Vice President, Inclusive Impact & Sustainability, Asia Pacific, Visa, says, “At Visa, we see the huge potential that adopting technologies could have in enabling women farmers to grow their businesses and build resilience. Visa is a proud contributor to the GrowHer: Kakao program through our grant to Grow Asia’s GrowHer Impact Fund, and we’re committed to continue to uplift women-owned small businesses by upskilling and readying them for the digital economy.”
ABOUT GROW ASIA
Grow Asia is a multi-stakeholder platform established in 2015 by the World Economic Forum and the ASEAN Secretariat to cultivate more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems in Southeast Asia. Grow Asia does this by brokering commercial and non-profit partnerships between the global and regional public, private, civil society, academic, and farmer organizations that make up the Grow Asia Network, creating an ecosystem that supports knowledge sharing, collaboration, innovation, and policy change.
Grow Asia comprises the regional Grow Asia Secretariat in Singapore; 6 Country Chapters; and 44 Working Groups, organized around specific cross-cutting issues (e.g., agritech) or value chains (e.g., corn). Today, Grow Asia engages over 660+ partner organizations through its Country Chapters in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Viet Nam, reaching 2.5 million smallholder farmers.
In 2020, Grow Asia was accredited as an Entity Associated with ASEAN due to the important role Grow Asia plays in the region, particularly in facilitating multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable agriculture development.
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