WASHINGTON, May 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- DOVE® Chocolate from Mars Chocolate North America is proud to announce nearly 2,000 women and men in the cocoa farming communities of Cote d'Ivoire have joined CARE Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) in the first year of the program—exceeding the brand's original goal by 10 percent.
The joint partnership between DOVE® Chocolate and CARE®, global poverty-fighting organization that pioneered the VSLA concept in Niger in 1991, was established to provide a safe place to save money and access small loans, encouraging the business efforts of women in farming communities. Experience has shown when women have more income, an increased proportion is invested in family and community, benefiting both the current and next generation of cocoa farmers.
Madame Dogbo is one of the female farmers benefitting from the VSLA program. In 2016, her cocoa farm was destroyed in a fire, leaving her and her four daughters in a perilous financial situation. With the help of a VSLA-funded loan, Madame Dogbo was able to plant cocoa again, and more importantly, earn the money to send her daughters to school. You can view her story, and more about the VSLA program, here.
"On the VSLA meeting days, even if I have things to do like cooking, I stop everything and go there, because the VSLA has changed me—the VSLA has provided our community a great opportunity," said Madame Dogbo.
The well-being of cocoa farmers is one of the most important steps of the bean to bar journey. As such, Mars, Inc. has pledged $1 million to CARE® to empower female farmers in Cote d'Ivoire. Consumers can now join those efforts. Starting July 7, for every purchase of specially marked DOVE® Chocolate PROMISES® at CVS Pharmacy locations, $1 will be donated to CARE®.
"DOVE® Chocolate is thrilled to see the VSLA program with CARE has already exceeded expectations in year one," said Kerry Cavanaugh, Brand Director, DOVE® Chocolate, Mars Chocolate North America. "Through our joint efforts, we're starting to see women in these communities flourish, which impacts not only the quality of cocoa bean produced, but also education and healthcare opportunities for their family."
Promoting gender equality and securing a larger voice for women within their communities has also been a major objective for DOVE® Chocolate and CARE®. Members of the 70 VSLA groups established in Cote d'Ivoire through the DOVE® partnership, have demonstrated positive group dynamics, with men and women from various backgrounds working together productively, which was uncommon before the program.
"Now, women have a newfound confidence in their ability to own and manage cocoa farms," said Youssouf Ndjore, Cocoa Sustainability Director, CARE®. "Additionally, the community's perception of women is improving as men are beginning to take pride in their support of women who are running their own businesses and having dreams for the future."
The DOVE® Chocolate Difference
From bean to bar, Mars Chocolate North America takes great care to maintain the highest standards of quality when crafting DOVE® Chocolate. Every batch of beans is carefully and thoroughly evaluated for flavor and quality for use in DOVE® Chocolate to ensure the authentic rich taste of the cocoa is enjoyed by consumers around the world.
It all starts with only the best cacao beans, which are tested by expert Mars Associate craftspeople for quality and flavor. The beans are then taken through special roasting and grinding techniques – a process rooted in European tradition - to create the signature silky smooth texture and great taste of DOVE® Chocolate. Finally, Mars adds the perfect combination of chocolate liquor and 100 percent pure cocoa butter to create a balanced taste that's not too sweet, nor too bitter.
To learn more about the unique DOVE® Chocolate bean to bar process and to follow the CARE® partnership progress, please visit www.dovechocolatejourney.com. For more information about DOVE® Chocolate, visit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Mars, Incorporated
Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned business with more than a century of history, $35 billion in sales, and six diverse business segments producing some of the world's best-loved brands: PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, IAMS®, BANFIELD® CESAR® (Petcare); M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY®, TWIX® (Chocolate); DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES® (Wrigley); UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® (Food); ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® FLAVIA® (Drinks); and COCOAVIA® (Symbioscience). Headquartered in McLean, VA, Mars operates in 421 facilities across 78 countries, where our more than 80,000 Associates —all united by the company's Five Principles of Quality, Efficiency, Responsibility, Mutuality and Freedom –strive every day to create relationships with our stakeholders that deliver growth we are proud of.
For more information about Mars, Incorporated, please visit www.mars.com. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That's why women and girls are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 94 countries and reached 80 million people. To learn more, visit www.care.org.
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SOURCE Mars Chocolate North America