One morning in Pinhou, a cocoa farming community located 24km from Téady in Côte d'Ivoire, a trader and cocoa producer, Meho Posson Honorine, is busy with her customers, as she welcomes some villagers who have come to visit her. Here is her story:
Originally the owner of a small shop selling refreshments, she is now involved in many successful business activities, and has become a well-known figure in the community. The key to her success was her integration into the Cellule Féminine de Renforcement Economique (CFREC). She explained how invaluable the CFREC has been to her, “CFREC has done me and my family a lot of good. This year I have enrolled my children in school. I have already settled everything, including my son’s schooling in Duékoué. I have a son who has passed his baccalaureate, I have to go with him to Abidjan," she told us, smiling.
The CFRECs, groups set up by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), aim to empower rural women and support their access to financial resources. Having joined the CFREC last year, Honorine is now the owner of two rubber tree fields and a two-hectare cocoa field. She also owns a tarpaulin and a set of 100 chairs which she rents out. And, she has not stopped there!
Honorine, mother of five children, and her husband, a mason's apprentice at the time, had difficulties supporting their family financially. She first heard about the CFREC from coach, Willy Jean, a cocoa producer.
Three months after joining the CFREC in 2020, Honorine obtained a loan of 100,000 Fcfa from the group. With this loan, her savings, and under the advice of the coach, she bought a rubber tree field. A few months later, because of her dynamism and courage, the coach encouraged their CFREC to look for further support from a micro-finance group. The women obtained a loan of 3,000,000 Fcfa from the group Advans, which agreed to support them in this project. "With CFREC, Advans encouraged us to open an account. I got a loan of 700,000 Fcfa. With this money, I bought a two-hectare rubber and cocoa field," she said. She also bought three mini solar panels and a freezer to start selling drinks and fresh water.
Together with her husband, they farm the fields and the profits from the harvest allow them to provide for their children's welfare, "It is with these fields that we put our children in school. It is thanks to CFREC that I am succeeding today. When my husband is away and my child has things to buy at school, I don't wait for him. I manage everything and inform him when he returns.”
"From the first harvest, I had a profit of 180,000 Fcfa, which enabled me to repay the first loan. I then paid for a tarpaulin to rent out and with the income I bought 100 chairs," Honorine told us, explaining that the rental of wheelbarrows can bring her at least 15,000 Fcfa per month. For her husband, Noël Ganhou, their difficulties are far behind them: "When I was an apprentice mason, it was difficult. A boss helped me with the children's schooling. My wife was always waiting for me to give money," he said before acknowledging that everything has changed now: "Today, if I am considered in the family and in the community, it is because of her. I look after the fields. In any case, everything is fine.