How Magnum ice cream is benefitting Cote d’Ivoire’s female cocoa farmers - LISTEN

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Magnum
Pic: Magnum

Related tags Magnum Cocoa Chocolate Côte d'ivoire Sustainability

Magnum’s broader female empowerment programme has got off to a fantastic start following the graduation of the first 198 women. Megan Willis, Head of Sustainable Sourcing at Unilever, Magnum’s owner, gives ConfectioneryNews an update in an exclusive podcast interview.

The programme forms part forming part of Magnum’s commitment to socially and economically support 5,000 women in cocoa farming communities by 2025 – and has has worked in collaboration with NGOs on the ground in Cote d’Ivoire including 100WEEKS and CARE International.

Willis said this year, a further 600 farmers will join the programme as it scales up. This provides them with direct and unconditional weekly cash transfers over the course of 100 weeks through their donated mobile phones, while also providing training to further their economic understanding.

Megan Willis, Head of Sustainable Sourcing at Unilever
Megan Willis

Willis said the programme has already had a positive impact on many families in cocoa-growing communities with more children being able to attend school thanks to the financial security the scheme offers

What we're seeing now is really an upscaling of that programme. So what happened in August was the completion of the first cohort and now we've really had a chance to evaluate the programme and see some early outcomes​,” Willis told ConfectioneryNews.

With feedback from those first 198 participants, Magnum will be able to bring more benefits to more women. “I think we're estimating to add another 400 members to the programme. So that will bring us to 600 by the end of the year​. “

Willis said the programme has already had a positive impact on many families in cocoa-growing communities with more children being able to attend school thanks to the financial security the scheme offers.

Members of the programme have on average 12 times more savings than the benchmark in Cote d'Ivoire with the average total savings in the programme being $486 compared to about $38 for the average … and almost 3/4 of the people who received cash transfers under the programme have expanded their income generating activities compared to before the programme began, which ties into a larger theme of economic resilience​,” she said.


Earlier this year Magnum launched ‘AWA’ a holistic impact programme that aims to specifically empower female cocoa farmers socially and economically.

The AWA avatar is created from digital facial scanning technology of 128 women that are actually involved in the programme and she's an ambassador who represents authentic voices of not just one woman and not just one woman's experience, but really the collective community of women that we're aiming to support​,” said Willis.

As part of the programme, a limited-edition fashion collection by Ivorian designer Rebecca Zoro has also been launched inspired by the women of Cote d’Ivoire and created with a team of local artists. The collection is circular and proceeds from the sale will help to raise additional funds for tailored impact programmes led by Magnum in Cote d’Ivoire. 

Since 2012, Magnum has invested €80M into making its cocoa supply more sustainable, including the traceability and segregation of its cocoa beans. This ensures the cocoa beans used in Magnum’s Classic, Almond and White Chocolate (CAW) products in Europe are 100% traceable to certified farmer groups.

Cocoa strategy

In doing this, Magnum is able to identify the cocoa communities that would most benefit from its Impact Programmes. Magnum said its 2025 Cocoa Strategy aims to positively impact the lives of the cocoa farmers in its direct sourcing through tailored impact programmes which have three key aims: equip cocoa farmers with financial security, eliminate child labour and halt deforestation.

It’s great to have this heightened consumer awareness, and they can follow the campaign, follow the work that we're doing, and ultimately be informed consumers and really support the campaign. We are looking to reach 5000 women by 2025​,” said Willis.

  • Listen to our interview with Megan in full in our latest podcast.

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