The importance of ‘tri-partite’ partnerships between business, NGOs and government

By Patrick Adjewodah, Elle Harrison and Naomi Somerville-Large, Fairtrade

In this blog, Fairtrade reflects on some of the learnings from the Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund, a partnership between Fairtrade, Mondelēz International and the FCDO.[1]  The importance of “tri-partite” partnerships between business, NGOs and government, co-creation with producers and embedding gender inclusion and climate resilience will be critical to ensure sustainable livelihoods in global supply chains.

In the middle of 2020, Fairtrade and Mondelēz International expanded their existing partnership to include the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), winning a one year grant from the Business Partnerships for Global Goals (BP4GG) programme[1]. The three partners collaborated to launch the Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund, designed to accelerate and deepen existing work in income diversification through a one-year grant facility, made available to nine cocoa unions in Ghana representing over 22,500 farmers. This played an important role in buying down the risk for cocoa unions to innovate and test new climate-smart income-generating activities – both with the goal to create new sources of income and improve food security for cocoa communities.

One year on, the team reflects on learnings and what the future holds in store for the partnership.

The value of “tri-partite” partnerships: Business, NGOs and Government

Both Fairtrade and Mondelēz International are committed to sustainable development within the cocoa sector, and core to that is recognising that partnerships are essential to realise systemic sectoral change.[3]  Businesses, as permanent market actors, have long-term vested interests in the resilience of supply chains and are not bound by project cycles.[4] NGOs, like Fairtrade, have long-term trusted relationships with vulnerable people within those supply chains, can ensure strong producer ownership of programmes, understand local contexts and bring technical excellence in design and implementation.  Governments play the role of convener, regulator and “accelerator,” inspiring best practice, buying down the risk of business and farmer investment into innovation, and ensuring resilient supply chains can be self-sustaining through targeted development funding.  In the case of the Cadbury Farmer Resilience Fund, the launch of the BP4GG programme provided important momentum for Fairtrade and Mondelēz International, creating urgency, ensuring technical excellence and targeting resources effectively to the needs of cocoa farmers during what was an incredibly uncertain time.


Total number of farmers reached by the project was 27,346

Among farmers surveyed at the end of the project, 71% of those who had started earning income from additional income generating activities reported feeling that their livelihoods were secure compared to 38% that had not yet started earning additional income

96% of farmers surveyed at the end of the project reported that they had improved access to food as a result of project activities

All 37 new income pilots are expected to continue

Importance of co-creation and technical assistance

Many of the programme’s successes come down to the emphasis on co-creation and flexibility within programme implementation, which enabled the programme team to pivot resources and maintain a focus on outcomes for producers.  The grant strategy sought to encourage innovation, equality of access, and prioritisation and was rooted in consultation with cocoa farmers, market analysis as well as an extensive proposal creation period with dedicated support by Fairtrade Africa.  Key results from this approach can be seen here.

Ensuring both gender inclusivity & climate resilience is at the heart of our work

The project also had an embedded approach to climate resilience and gender inclusion.  Not only was the split of the grant funding designed to have a 25 percent uplift for each female member, but also each of the income generating projects were only selected if they were suitable for the local climate.  Farmers also received ongoing training on agronomy, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and conservation agriculture, embedded in community-led planning work towards climate mitigation and adaptation.

The gender approach generated lively debate during the consultation process, and had a direct impact on the types of projects that the unions subsequently designed.  One year later, 82% of those earning new incomes from non-crop grant activities were women, and the future looks bright with further trainings enabling women to gain FDA certification[5] for their produce to access new markets.

“One of our strategic plans or objectives is to expand or strengthen the livelihood activities that our women and youth are doing at the various societies. However, [having] the funds to do that at this COVID-19 pandemic moment was a challenge. So the timely intervention by this project has helped the Union to [support] our women and youths who are jobless and this has completely added a face lift in our societies.” – Fanteakwa Union

Looking to the future

It is clear the engagement of the FCDO provided critical acceleration at an uncertain time, resulting in effective and timely launch of new income generating work for cocoa farmers.  The Fairtrade and Mondelēz International partnership continue to work closely together with the nine unions to build these new businesses, develop market linkages and work in communities to embed climate resilience.


[1] This project is funded by the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility (VSCF), a rapid COVID-19 response fund set up by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and managed by Mott MacDonald Ltd.  The Facility has partnered with 20 UK and international retailers and brands, supporting over 292 suppliers across Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.  It will provide economic, social, and health benefits to around 1 million women and men directly and indirectly.

[2] This box draws on end of project data gathered through farmer and union leader surveys. These surveys were conducted by 60 Decibels with funding provided by the VSCF.

[3] Capillo, A. and Somerville-Large, N. (2020), “Cocoa Sustainable Livelihoods Landscape Study” available at

[4] BP4GG High Level Learning Event 2: Summary briefing: Partnerships for building back better and greener from the Pandemic (2021) available at Business Partnerships as a Force for Good | High Level Event 2: Summary Briefing by Business Partnerships for Global Goals (BP4GG) – issuu

[5] Ghana Food and Drugs Authority, needed to be able to sell soap in local supermarkets.


Read more by Fairtrade here.

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