Empowering Women To Drive Income Diversification

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Empowering women

Diversified incomes in the Income Accelerator Program

As an innovative family-centered approach, the income accelerator program is aiming to close the living income gap and reduce child labor risks by encouraging changes in behavior and rewarding positive practices – both within the home and on the farm.

The income accelerator program aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-farming families. The program rewards cocoa-farming families not just for the quantity and quality of their cocoa beans, but also for practices that benefit the environment and local community. The program incentivizes and enables cocoa-farming families to engage in practices in four areas: school enrollment, good agricultural practices, agroforestry activities, and diversified incomes.

For the first two years, families in the program can receive up to €500 annually (€100 per areas with an additional €100 if families meet the required conditions and actions for all four areas) with the incentives distributed equally between the two household heads (i.e., man and woman) to encourage gender equality, share financial responsibilities, and build more resilient household.

The program values the equal split of incentives because when women are actively engaged, it can lead to more inclusive and informed decision-making on farm and family finances. This is because women tend to consider the needs of the entire household and prioritize investments that benefit the overall wellbeing of all family members, such as enhancing food security, improving access to education and healthcare, and diversifying income sources.

Diversifying incomes by the program is achieved through encouraging women to join Villages Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), which help women access finance and loans to start new businesses, particularly those living in remote areas where banks are often not present; attend Gender Action Learning at Scale (GALS) trainings, which make women and men actively participate in changing their vision of gender equality, helping strengthen relationships at all levels; and Income Generating Activities (IGAs) trainings, which support women in how to research, plan and launch a successful new business.

What impact has the income accelerator program had on diversified incomes?

Published in summer 2023, the KIT Royal Tropical Institute Midline report of the pilot phase examined the 1000 cocoa-farming families of the income accelerator program pilot, revealing the following impacts for diversified incomes:

  • 86% of families in the program have at least one member enrolled in VSLAs with 24 new VSLAs established – with women representing the majority of VSLAs members, which has helped to increase women’s involvement in household decision-making of expenditure, and promote gender equality
  • 174 households obtained a loan from VSLAs to finance the extension or create new IGAs
  • 36 IGAs training sessions
  • 47% of families in the program participated in a GALS training

Overall, the availability of financial resources through the income accelerator program's income diversification incentive has served as a catalyst for households in the pilot to explore new income-generating opportunities beyond traditional agricultural practices.

As the program now expands its reach further into Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the pilot has helped identify ways to improve and amplify its impact in the future. One area related to income diversification, which we are already addressing, is the issue of women often having limited access to mobile phones and identity cards to verify their ‘mobile money’ accounts.

Following the launch of the pilot in 2020, we moved to a test at scale phase in Côte d’Ivoire reaching 10 000 cocoa-farming families, with the aim to reach an estimated 160 000 cocoa-farming families in our supply chain by 2030.

We remain fully committed to empowering women, and households collectively, to diversify their incomes and build income resilience beyond cocoa as we work toward our 2030 goal.

For more information on the income accelerator program and its impact on cocoa-farming families, click to read and discover How the program works; the Income Accelerator Program Progress Report (July 2023); and the KIT Royal Tropical Institute reports Baseline on test at scale and Midline report of the pilot phase.