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Women for Change


The Women for Change project empowers female cocoa farmers and women living in cocoa-farming households to increase their participation in community development and in making decisions on business and livelihood management.

In doing so, participating women increase their leadership capacity and control their own businesses.


Cocoa farming is viewed as a “male activity” and resources are targeted at male farmers. But women are responsible for much of the work, including farming and providing labor for production activities to assure cocoa bean quality. CARE and Mars Wrigley have built on the success and learnings of their Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) initiative to increase women’s social and economic empowerment in cocoa-growing communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.


The Women for Change model first creates VSLAs. These groups, once in place, become an entry point for four areas: financial inclusion and linkages; entrepreneurship supporting income growth and diversification; gender-equality interventions; and a healthy family curriculum that promotes early-childhood development and child protection.

On average, VSLA members have saved $63 each, and groups have saved $1,682. Beyond direct financial impacts, the Women for Change program has supported entrepreneurship across the 26 cocoa-growing communities where the program operates. These microenterprises have directly benefited at least 11,429 households, impacting an estimated 57,145 people whose livelihoods are dependent on members of VSLA groups. Finally, the program has increased women’s confidence, improved local governance, strengthened child protection, and engaged couples in dialogues to reduce gender-based violence.

Women’s influence over household decisions has doubled over the life of the project

The program has enrolled over 12,000 household members into savings groups

Project achievements

Since 2015, Women for Change has benefited more than 10,000 families, representing at least 50,000 people in cocoa-growing regions. The program has enrolled over 12,000 household members into savings groups, generating $720,000 in savings and loans.

Click here to read Mars’ statement on Women for Change.


CARE and Mars have developed a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) model that includes a number of essential building blocks beyond the standard savings and loan activities. The model is designed specifically for cocoa growers in Mars’s supply chain.

Learn more about our partnership with Mars

Highlighted Resources

Women for Change Program Booklet

This booklet overviews the progress and impact of the Women for Change program so far.

Read the booklet here.

Breaking the Bias: Case Study

Rita Asamoah is a 38-year-old cocoa farmer and trader in the Wansanmire community of the Ahafo Cocoa Region in Ghana. Rita is the Box Keeper of her Village Savings & Loan group, formed in 2021 as part of the Women for Change program, supported by Mars.

Read Rita's story here.

Following Her Dreams: Case Study

Kouassi Akissi Rodiasse is 30 years old and married with three children. She lives in Kragui-Méagui in the South West of Côte d’Ivoire. She has been a member of her Village Savings & Loan Association (VSLA), supported by CARE and Mars, for four years.

Read Kouassi's story here.