Barry Callebaut announced plans to collaborate with startup Seekewa on a pilot project to increase and diversify farmer incomes on the ‘Cocoa Horizons’ program.

Seekewa is an award-winning digital platform that connects people and organisations into a ‘community. The company will collaborate with MassChallenge – a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting start-ups, to support ‘Cocoa Horizons’ farmers.

Serge and Fred Zamblé, brothers and the co-founders of Seekewa, wanted to start a business with social impact in Côte d’Ivoire. Both had professional careers in software engineering and finance before they left and eventually founded Seekewa with the aim to make their ideas a reality.

Seekewa refers to their model as:

A participative platform that helps smallholder farmers find all the resources they need to carry out their projects.

How it Works

In fact, the company is quite innovative with its solution that is designed specifically to work in African countries. Sponsors can buy e-vouchers that are turned into points. Those points can then be used to pick different projects on Seekewa’s website, and there are many projects and categories to refine your decision.

The farmer uses those points to buy goods and services at a cost price and financed without interest. When the farmer is able to pay, the points are sent back to the donor, who is tracking all their projects on a dashboard.

The donor can then award the points to another project, or get refunded to their credit card. Amazing.

screenshot 2021.03.31 09 08 20
A project from the Seekewa’s website

 Fred Zamblé, CEO & co-founder of Seekewa said:

Working with Barry Callebaut was an obvious fit for us, they have operations in our country and social commitments that align with our own.

Their mentorship has been incredible as well as the opportunity to work with such an open and trusting team. 

We think that Barry Callebaut has made a great decision to partner with Seekewa on this project, and no doubt for Seekewa, having a large company behind it is going to help transform and scale the business. The Cocoa Horizons program will provide a pool of farmers involved that can benefit from the program, and they will contribute funding as well as advice and mentoring.

Additionally, Seekewa has stated that they will contractually commit to purchasing at least 90% of the crops grown from projects that meet their success criteria, and they can additionally guarantee those farmers at least 20% profit from the purchase. Under the contract, farmers can keep up to 10% of the residual harvest.

This is the first phase of the project, and if successful could lead to further scaling across the continent, but from a practical sense, this is a good deal for Cocoa Horizons since it gets them expertise on the ground, which if combined with good management oversight should result in a more efficient allocation and use of funds.

Evelyn Nassar, Director of Cocoa Horizons said:

 Focus on income diversification is a key element of our strategy towards lifting farmers out of poverty. In Seekewa we saw an attractive model which we are interested in piloting, with the goal to support cocoa farmers in an efficient and sustainable way, while securing the take off of their non-cocoa crops.


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