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Jan 20, 2019 12:00:37 AM3 min read

Small changes, big revolutions: the impact of cocoa

UPDATED ON 15/03/2022

How an initiative in Necocli, Urabá, became a snowball. The story of how we learned that environmental development, and sustainability, go hand-to-hand with culture.

Defining a diverse model for social innovation for the chocolate industry



Astonishing ideas came from diversity and inclusion

This planning has involved great revolutions based on events that seemed irrelevant at first. Such as the definition of the agenda of activities. Together we meet to define timetables, people, allied budgets, and activities.

During the process of consensus and dissertations, we discovered the importance of cultural, social, empathic, and respectful dialogue involving different beliefs.

The community’s first proposal included loads of topics. Such as cockfights, beauty pageants, motorcycle tours, cultural presentations, gastronomic samples, dances, songs. Luker proposed photography contests, craft workshops, chocolate tastings, and other things that represented us.

In both proposals, there were enormous coincidences that made us feel like we had a single dream, a single purpose. But at the same time, as is natural when cultures meet, there were differences in some themes. And as we have always done, we decided to start conversing to find common ground.

We had two themes that distanced us. Cockfighting, and the beauty pageant. Both are traditional in Colombian culture. So we began to talk about these issues.

From the company, we proposed to omit the cockfights. This was to generate environmental, and animal awareness. We also proposed that, instead of celebrating women’s beauty, we should acknowledge their talent. Also their role in the more than 5 ethnic groups that live in the same territory.

Our respectful stance on deep-rooted culture was that over time we would change beliefs and behaviours. The Cocoa Festival could reflect a joint way of looking at life. A space where people, animals, nature, and culture deserved the greatest respect. 

 Cocoa festival for children

Dialogue as an agent of change

Far from generating discord, our proposals were immediately understood. We also saw how these positions were already incorporated into the community. First on an individual level. The Cocoa Festival became a vehicle that helped to put certain topics on the table.

In a 3-hour long conversation, more than one and a half hours of planning to reflect on the beauty pageant. The conversation, led by the community, turned around the great talent of their women.

Also, the change in understanding the role of women; their importance in the culture; and the differences between one ethnic group and another in that understanding.

There was a reflection on what it means to put a young woman on a catwalk in a territory that had been sexist for years. The risk it represents, and the message it sends to children.

It was incredible to see and hear in the voices of those who are sometimes considered uneducated or behind in world trends. As they wish to contribute to gender equality. Women’s empowerment. Human rights education, and how they can use the festival to install a ritual for the creation of values. To reinterpret beliefs. To celebrate the plenty and opportunities that a product, cocoa, has brought into their lives.

The same thing happened with the cockfight. The consensus around this issue was very fast and we all decided to highlight values of care for the environment that this practice does not reflect.

We left not only with a new agenda, with competitions for talented women, and with environmental tours. But also, with the firm conviction that these actions that sometimes do not seem to have as much impact as a festival, in the end, are nothing more than the manifestation of the reinterpretation of the culture of a community, and its encounter with other beliefs and communities.

We saw a change that is not easy to witness in a country of traditions. The 2018 Cocoa Festival was a tribute to farmers, women, animals, and nature.

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