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More than 12,000 employees volunteered nearly 40,000 hours across 70 countries during Mondelēz International’s annual Global Volunteer Month campaign.
As part of the Deerfield, Ill.-based company’s commitment to protect the well-being of people and the planet, the company dedicated the month of October to giving back to communities, inspiring employees to answer the call through meaningful service projects that promote healthy lifestyles, overall community well-being and employee growth and development.
Among the thousands of volunteers, 14 employees served as “Joy Ambassadors” during a two-week skills-exchange mission in Ghana. This team had the chance to learn about the challenges and opportunities in securing a sustainable cocoa supply while sharing their diverse business skills, from agronomy and R&D to operations, procurement, marketing and law.
The team, representing 10 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Egypt, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United States and Switzerland), lived in Aysikrom, Adiembra and Ehiamenkyene, three of the more than 200 Ghanaian villages active in Cocoa Life, the company’s 10-year, $400 million cocoa sustainability program.
Leveraging their day-to-day expertise, the Joy Ambassadors facilitated micro-enterprise workshops focused on developing entrepreneurial skills to help local communities. They shared their insights on how to identify and launch a business idea, by scaling a business through effective marketing practices and building the critical facilitation, collaboration and influencing skills to help enable positive community outcomes.
“I enjoyed interacting with the Joy Ambassadors and working in small groups to learn practical ways to grow my business,” said Emmanuel Tetteh, a local cocoa farmer. “While my primary income comes from cocoa farming, the workshops opened my eyes to additional business opportunities as a secondary income to help my family prosper.”
Fostering women empowerment
Developing innovations to help empower women in cocoa growing communities launch and operate small enterprises was a substantial focus of this year’s mission. Women cocoa farmers in Ghana earn 25-30 percent less than their male counterparts and often struggle with less access to financing and business knowledge.
“The women involved in the Cocoa Life program are very entrepreneurial and eager to share their business ideas and learn new ways to grow their micro-enterprises more efficiently,” said Joy Ambassador Maria Gabriela Cadenas, Mondelēz’s associate director of information systems in Colombia. “Many women have even learned to produce soap from empty cocoa pods. I’ve learned a lot from their determination, strength and innovation to find ways to provide additional income for their families. They are fighters.”
Added Joy Ambassador Don Sweat, customer business lead for U.S. sales national accounts: “This experience was both humbling and energizing. Our small team was able to teach, learn about the life behind the cocoa and add value to our Cocoa Life communities. The relationships developed and deep sense of pride established in such a short period of time has been transformative.”