FMO and Niche Confectionery Ltd. (Niche) are pleased to announce the signing of an EUR 8 million loan agreement which supports local cocoa processing in Ghana. With this loan, Niche will purchase manufacturing equipment which allows it to produce confectionery such as chocolate spreads, ready-to-drink chocolate milk, and chocolate bars. These will be sold on the regional market, bringing the company one step closer to its vision of becoming Africa’s leading bean-to-bar producer.
Ghana produces the world’s highest-quality bulk cocoa beans and is second in global production of cocoa, with 20% of the world’s harvest. A relatively low amount of value addition takes place in-country, however, as nearly two-thirds of its beans are exported as raw cocoa. Niche was founded in 2011 to help close this gap and it currently produces high-quality, semi-finished cocoa products for export. Now, however, it can move up the value chain to produce confectionery that meets the growing local demand for premium consumer products that incorporate high-end refining and marketing.
Niche employs more than 360 people domestically and its activities represent an important source of foreign exchange earnings for Ghana. It also plays an important role in facilitating the transfer of technical knowledge within Ghana’s cocoa-processing industry while improving the livelihoods of local farmers. Furthermore, the company strongly embraces ESG principles inasmuch as it is UTZ-certified and sells organic processed cocoa products.
Linda Broekhuizen, Chief Investment Officer at FMO said: “With this transaction FMO expands its relationship with Niche, thereby supporting Ghana’s most important agricultural sector by adding more value locally and increasing jobs.”
One of the primary social issues connected to cocoa farming in West Africa concerns the need to improve the lives of millions of desperately poor people whose income is derived from cocoa farming. Niche is working closely with two cocoa co-operatives in Ghana to produce certified organic cocoa products and increase farmer incomes to a sustainable level that allows them earn a living wage and send their children to school.
Further, FMO’s loan to Niche will enable it to buy equipment that produces fortified chocolate milk for more than 1 million Ghanaian school children on a daily basis under the country’s School Feeding Program.
Edmund Poku, Chief Executive Officer of Niche, expressed his appreciation for FMO’s support, stating, “With this loan Niche can contribute to Ghana’s industrialization by moving up the value chain to tertiary cocoa processing. As we do, we are excited to know that affordable premium chocolate and other confectionery products will be made available to a wider swathe of people throughout Africa, including many who have never known the taste of chocolate.”