Koa, a Ghanaian-Swiss startup, has successfully commissioned into operation Africa’s largest cocoa fruit processing factory in Akim Achiase, Ghana.
The facility raised at the cost of $10 million is the company’s second in the world’s second-largest cocoa producer nation.
The business upcycles the previously discarded pulp around the cocoa fruit into a high-value raw material for beverages and is also processed into a natural sweetener.
Since its establishment in 2017, Koa has upcycled 800 tons of cocoa fruit.
Koa’s new cocoa fruit processing factory, upon its full operation, is expected to increase current production capacity by tenfold.
The project, financed with a Serie A equity round and additional funds from institutional and private investors, is hoped to generate 250 new jobs and enable 10,000 cocoa farmers with additional income.
According to the company, a total of 2200 Ghanaian cocoa farmers have received GHS 2.3 million from Koa’s pioneering business activity.
At the inauguration of the new factory, Managing Director & Co-Founder of Koa, Anian Schreiber said the company is disrupting the cocoa industry through its innovative upcycling of cocoa fruit to unlock a new value chain around the so far discarded cocoa pulp.
“The inauguration of the factory is the beginning of Koa, as it expands its reach and makes meaningful impacts towards sustainable growth in rural Ghana making a positive impact in the cocoa industry,” he said.
Schreiber was confident that the newly established investment would allow Koa to scale its production stating that it has “laid the foundation to positively transform the cocoa value chain by creating additional value for one of Ghana’s most phenomenal products.”
He explained that “As a business that thrives to balance impact for people, planet, and profit, this project is the result of a courageous international team that is located thousands and thousands of miles apart and still comes to Ghana to deliver this project.”
“Supplying products for the domestic and international markets will bring value to the farmers, the communities, and all the people who work around here. This factory will connect Achiase and Ghana to the world,” noted the Koa boss.
Ghana-Switzerland bilateral relations
On her part, the Deputy Head of Mission & Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, Dr Simone Haeberli acknowledged the warm trade and bilateral relations between Ghana and Switzerland.
According to her, the business relations between Ghana and Switzerland remain very strong in trade, investments, and economic development cooperation among other sectors.
Dr Simone stated that Ghana is Switzerland’s second-largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
The volume between Switzerland and Ghana last year was 3.25 billion Swiss Franc, which is close to $3.5 billion.
However, Dr Haeberli who is also the acting Ambassador to Ghana added that it is also true that these impressive figures come from only two commodities – gold and cocoa beans.
“So, the potential for a more diversified trade between the two countries is huge. But also dependent on reforms to modernise Ghana’s economy to facilitate trade, increase productivity, add value, and provide skilled people to the market.
This is precisely what the Switzerland Economic Development Co-operation wants to achieve,” she assured.
Government Commends Koa
Ghana’s Trade Minister, Kobina Tahir Hammond (MP), commended the managers of the Koa for establishing the innovative high-impact module in Akim Achiase of which 250 jobs will be created for the indigenes.
“As a government, we believe that prosperity for all is achievable through an industrial transformation that is inclusive and sustainable that also ensures the highest standards of food safety to guarantee significant market access for brands wholly or substantially produced in Ghana,” he said.
Hammond stated, “We also recognize that increasingly, consumers demand higher levels of social and environmental compliance to assure that consumer choices do not have hidden costs in respect of adverse effects on the environment and on vulnerable groups such as children and women.”
Lead cocoa farmer, Peter Wriako, expressed gratitude to the Koa management for the consistent skills training programme curated for farmers to upgrade their understanding of cocoa farming.
Through the support of the Koa group, cocoa farmers have gained new knowledge and methods to process the previously discarded cocoa pulp providing an avenue for farmers to earn additional income.
“Our hardworking farmers receive their money on the same day as production. We promise the group we will work within our capabilities to help sustain this business and collaboration,” Wriako added.
Working closely with cocoa farmers, Koa has reduced the on-farm food waste around the cocoa fruit, increasing cocoa farmers’ income while at the same time bringing unique new ingredients to the gastronomy and food and beverage industry ranging from chocolate, confectionery, ice cream to drinks.
The new facility similar to the initial one in Assin Akrofuom, in the Central Region of Ghana, converts the otherwise wasted cocoa pulp into products of higher quality and value such as fruit juices – a globally known as upcycling.
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