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Women of Virunga - The world’s first women’s cacao cooperative

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

In 2008 the first women's cacao cooperative the Femmes de Virunga was founded in Eastern Congo! Against all odds women from Virunga have not only become successful cacao farmers, but also reforested parts of the park with hundreds of thousand trees, trained hundreds of women to become cacao farmers and protected the biodiversity in Africa’s oldest nature park.

🍫Support the women from Virunga and buy their milk chocolate bar in our webshop, the ‘Women in Chocolate Gift Box’. 🍫

Throughout history, the cacao industry has always been a male dominated industry.

Over half of the work in cacao is done by women, while around 10% of the profits flow back to women. But, thankfully times are changing, especially in Virunga national park, women are at the forefront.

Virunga is Africa's oldest nature park, one of the most beautiful and naturally richest regions in the world.

Due to the exploitation by outsiders, at the expense of local people and wildlife (like mountain gorillas), it has eroded into one of the poorest regions, and perhaps the harshest to live as a woman.

Saddled with agricultural work, firewood gathering, water hauling, and childcare, women have seen an increase in their burdens as the economy has deteriorated. Girls are always the first ones to drop out of school.

Amidst the turmoil, hundreds of women have taken local leadership to create an opportunity for women to farm cacao.

Original Beans, a local Amsterdam cacao and chocolate company, started a partnership with the women in Virunga and introduced a new cacao crop, the ‘Virunga Amelonado’.

In 2008 they founded the world’s first women cacao cooperative, the Femmes de Virunga. They have planted more than a quarter of a million cacao trees and approximately 40 thousand shade trees.

By buying the Femmes de Virunga chocolate bar, you do more than supporting the cacao farmers. Originals Beans has since 2013 empowered the Femmes de Virunga through literacy courses, leadership trainings, a women-directed local radio programme and a variety of entrepreneurial activities.Hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted in the buffer zone of the Virunga Park, and on top of that they helped the Femmes de Virunga to get organic certification.

More than a quarter of a million cacao trees and approximately 40 thousand shade trees have been distributed, and the work continues!

Want to follow the impact of this project? One bar : One tree : Go see!

The taste of Virunga chocolate

The Femmes de Virunga chocolate is a dark milk chocolate bar. It has the essence of strong nuts and cappuccino. This delicious chocolate bar is the result of several years of continued training until these women have become masters at growing, fermenting and drying cacao.

🌱 Plant a tree in the Virunga National park and support the women of Virunga:

All chocolates are also available in our shop in Amsterdam’s old city center.


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