Ad:BrauBeviale '23
Ads:Current issue FRUIT PROCESSINGWorld Of Fruits 2023Our technical book Apple Juice TechnologyFRUIT PROCESSING Online Special: Instability of fruit-based beveragesFRUIT PROCESSING Online Special: Don’t give clogs a chanceOrange Juice ChainOur German magazine FLÜSSIGES OBST

Koa took the next step to scale its impact in the cocoa sector. On 25 August 2023, the Ghanaian-Swiss start-up inaugurated its second cocoa fruit factory in Ghana, together with 600 guests, the Ministry of Trade & Industry, and the Embassy of Switzerland. The new facility will allow Koa to scale its production capabilities tenfold and thereby allow the company to cooperate with an additional 10,000 cocoa smallholders in Ghana.

Koa is transforming the cocoa industry through its innovative upcycling of cocoa fruits. The independent Ghanaian-Swiss company is the first company in West Africa to have unlocked a new value chain around the overlooked cocoa pulp. Working closely with cocoa smallholders, Koa utilises more parts of the cocoa fruit and increases cocoa farmers’ income while, at the same time, creating innovative and sustainable ingredients for chocolate, confectionery, ice cream, and beverages.

Since its foundation in 2017, Koa has upcycled 800 tonnes of cocoa fruit that was, until that day, overlooked in the cocoa industry. 2,200 cocoa farmers benefitted within the first five years, earning a total of GHS 2.3 million (USD 300,000). To scale its business and meet the demand for cocoa fruit products, the company built a second factory, located in Akim Achiase in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Daniel Otu, Production & Operations Director at Koa, explained that “the new factory will allow the company to grow in line with the demand from our customers. The factory will generate 250 new jobs in rural Ghana and we will extend our cocoa fruit upcycling to an additional 10,000 cocoa farmers.”

The inauguration of the cocoa fruit factory on Friday, 25 August 2023, marked the beginning of a new era for Koa. It highlights the contribution of the company towards sustainable growth in Ghana and making a positive impact on the cocoa industry. In his welcome address during the event, Koa’s Managing Director and Co-Founder, Anian Schreiber, highlighted how the new factory serves as a milestone in the company’s ambition to positively transform the cocoa value chain. “By supplying products for both the Ghanaian and international market, we will add value to the farmers, the communities, and all people who work around here. This factory will connect Achiase and Ghana to the world,” Anian Schreiber said.

Inaugurating the factory on behalf of Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Kobina T. Hammond, noted, “as a government, we believe that prosperity for all is achievable through industrial transformation that is inclusive and sustainable that also ensures the highest standards of food safety to guarantee significant market access for products wholly or substantially produced in Ghana.”

Dr. Simone Haeberli, Deputy Head of Mission & Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, Togo and Benin, called Koa “a leader on this journey” and concluded: “What Koa is doing here is exactly what we were hoping to see. This makes us proud.”

About Koa
The Swiss-Ghanaian start-up Koa transforms the cocoa industry by upcycling parts of the cocoa fruit that are usually overlooked. With a mission to empower farmers to earn an additional income and make a positive impact on the planet, Koa is redefining sustainability and social responsibility in the industry. As a certified B Corp, the company integrates its mission into all business activities, focusing on the Triple Bottom Line: ‘People, Planet and Profit’. Today, 100 employees in Ghana and Switzerland dedicate themselves to making an impact by creating ingredients for gastronomy and the food and beverage industry.

Koa receives recognition for its socially responsible business just five years after the establishment of its innovative cocoa fruit venture. The Swiss-Ghanaian start-up is excited to announce the success- ful B Corp Certification with a score of 95.7 points. As Koa is scaling its operations, the team pushes even further in improving and leading with positive change.

Koa has officially become a B Corp, short for Certified B Corporation, using the power of business to address some of society’s greatest challenges. “Nowadays, measuring the success of a company needs to go beyond pure financial performance. Since our inception, we measure our success on the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. Being B Corp certified, we join a community of businesses around the world leading the transformation of the global economic system and we hope that many of our peers will follow our example,” Benjamin Kuschnik, Co-Founder and Group Finance Director of the Swiss-Ghanaian start-up, highlights.

A rigorous review of Koa’s impact

By certifying their businesses, recognised B Corps step into a framework for continuous improve- ment. A company must achieve a minimum score of 80 points on the B Impact Assessment to be certified and repeat the verification process every three years. The extensive assessment measures Koa’s ongoing impact on its workers, community and suppliers, customers, governance and the environment to make sure that the company is meeting high international standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

As a B Corp, the start-up joins the growing movement of around 6,000 Certified B Corporations from 158 industries across 86 countries, including companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Innocent Drinks and Valrhona. The B Corp Certification is administered by B Lab. Lucy Muigai, CEO of the African B Lab certifying Koa says: “This is not only a win for Koa but a win for the B Corp movement. The recognition marks Koa’s continued investment in tackling poverty in the cocoa supply chain and strengthening rural communities through job creation. Koa joining the B Corp community signals a shift towards greater accountability and transparency in the cocoa sector.”

Founded in 2017, Koa is disrupting the cocoa industry through its innovative upcycling of the cocoa fruit. Koa is the first company in West Africa to have unlocked a new value chain around the so far discarded cocoa pulp and worldwide the first cocoa fruit brand to become a B Corp. Working closely with cocoa smallholders, Koa reduces on-farm food waste around the cocoa fruit, generates additional farmer income and creates new jobs in rural communities. At the same time, Koa brings unique new ingredients to the food and beverage industry for applications ranging from chocolate and confectionery to ice cream or drinks.

Addressing opportunities for improvement

“We are proud to receive this certification, especially since we’re the third B Corp which has its major operations in Ghana, and we’ve been only five years in business,” says Francis Appiagyei-Poku, Finance and Administration Director at Koa in Ghana. “While we have proven to meet B Lab’s high standards, it’s still important to us that we strive for continuous improvement.”

As a water-intensive sector, agriculture poses risks such as water stress or depletion of local water sources if water use is not appropriately managed. Koa’s production process in the factory requires substantial amounts of water and energy for logistics, cooling and cleaning. Koa is therefore constantly improving the infrastructure to reduce resource usage such as investing in a rainwater harvesting system.

Besides environmental improvements, Koa is actively training its workforce for an international environment. Koa is committed to having more women and minorities in leadership positions since diversity is at the core of its business and the team aims to set an example beyond the sector it works in.

Swiss-Ghanaian start-up Koa secures USD10 million growth capital to accelerate its disruptive up-cycling business around the cocoa fruit. The investments will allow Koa to scale its production capabilities tenfold and thereby allowing the company to cooperate with an additional 10,000 cocoa smallholders in Ghana.

Koa is taking the next step to scale its impact in the cocoa sector. Today, the Swiss-Ghanaian start-up announces the completion of its Series A equity round as well as the closing of additional senior and junior ranking debt for a total of USD 10 million of financing from both institutional and private investors. “We are excited that we won strong and reputable partners for the further growth of our business. It shows that our way of responsibly doing business and our value proposition are meeting the pulse of the time. With these investments, we will be setting up Africa’s largest cocoa pulp processing plant in West Africa which is the world’s largest cocoa growing region,” Benjamin Kuschnik, Co-Founder and Group Finance Director of Koa, says.

Founded in 2017, Koa is disrupting the cocoa industry through its innovative upcycling of the cocoa fruit. Koa is the first company in West Africa to have unlocked a new value chain around the so far discarded cocoa pulp. Working closely with cocoa smallholders, Koa reduces on-farm food waste around the cocoa fruit, generates additional farmer income while at the same time bringing unique new ingredients to the food and beverage industry for applications ranging from chocolate, confectionery, ice cream to drinks.

Bringing together private and institutional investors into an impactful venture

To finance its next expansion plans, Koa has successfully completed its Series A round raising a total of USD 4.7 million in equity. The investment round was led by Haltra Group, a Luxembourg-based family investment company which is joined by a group of other like-minded family offices all sharing Koa’s conviction to establish a business that creates real impact while being profitable and sustainable on the Triple Bottom Line “People, Planet and Profit”.

“As a family investment group focused on managing assets and having a positive impact, we promote the emergence of disruptive and sustainable economic models for future generations. We are delighted to participate in this exciting venture at the edge of Circular Economy and Food Transition, two of our core investment themes, and to contribute to impacting the local communities in Ghana,” Matthieu Baumgartner, Co-Founder of Haltra, says.

The equity round is complemented by a USD 3.5 million long-term debt facility from impact funds and USD 2.0 million of shareholder loans. The long-term debt facility is coled by the IDH Farmfit Fund and the Landscape Resilience Fund coming together in a unique partnership for this investment with the aim of improving smallholders’ incomes and their transition to climate resilient agriculture.

“Koa’s innovation makes it possible for farmers to increase their living income significantly by selling their waste product, without having to make additional investment costs at their farms,” Barbara Visser, COO of the IDH Farmfit Fund, says. “Koa furthermore aims to create gender equal employment opportunities in rural communities and targets to reach 40 % women farmers, which are in line with core objectives of the IDH Farmfit Fund. We are very pleased that today’s investment will support Koa in responsible value creation in the cocoa supply chain. These kind of disruptive and innovative solutions are key to catalyse the system change that is needed to improve the lives of these cocoa farmers.”

Looking at strengthening cocoa farmers’ climate resilience, Urs Dieterich, Managing Director of the Landscape Resilience Fund, emphasises that “increasing investment in adaptation will save and improve many lives in the communities hardest hit by climate change. That’s what today’s investment is all about – supporting an inspiring, socially and environmentally grounded business to reach greater heights and have even more climate impact.”

Increasing the production capacity tenfold to meet customer demand

Koa is investing the funds from the debt financing into a new production plant in Akim Achiase, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. This will be Koa’s second factory which is already in construction and is planned to start its operations by the end of 2022. “As the food industry is discovering the cocoa fruit, we need to grow in line with the demand from our customers. Once fully operational, the new factory will increase our production capacity by tenfold, while generating 250 new jobs in rural Ghana and allowing us to extend our cocoa fruit upcycling to an additional 10,000 cocoa farmers,” Daniel Otu, Production & Operations Director at Koa, explains.

Koa is disrupting transparency in the cocoa industry. The Swiss-Ghanaian start-up is launching a system, using blockchain technology, that proves transactions and higher income for cocoa farmers. In an international collaboration with the companies seedtrace (Germany) and MTN Group (South Africa), Koa has implemented a new, tamper-proof and scalable transparency system that records payments made to cocoa smallholders. Mobile money payments are verified in real-time and are irreversibly stored on a blockchain. Transactions are made publicly available, differentiating themselves from existing certification labels, providing consumers with direct proof that farmers receive the full payment.

Over the last decades, supply chain scandals and cocoa farmer poverty have continued to rock the cocoa industry, leading to increased consumer demand and political efforts to improve transparency and accountability within the cocoa industry. Yet, consumers struggle to put their trust in brands and their initiatives. While products carry certification labels, the inevitable question remains: How can I be sure that farmers receive the money that they’re entitled to?

Koa, the Swiss-Ghanaian start-up making use of cocoa food waste, has set sail to disrupt transparency standards and to enable consumers to obtain assurance. “We want to get rid of long, non-transparent supply chains,” emphasises Anian Schreiber, Managing Director and Co-Founder at Koa. “Instead of claiming good practices, we put our cards on the table to let the consumers witness each transaction to farmers.” The start-up is known for upcycling the white pulp that surrounds the cocoa beans, thereby significantly increasing the income of Ghanaian smallholders, while offering a solution to reduce farmer poverty. Koa is working with over 2,200 cocoa farmers and will add an additional 10,000 farmers to its value chain in the next two years.

Removing the room for errors and opaque marketing messages

To develop the pioneering transparency system, Koa collaborated with Berlin-based seedtrace, a SaaS start-up on a mission to make supply chain transparency the norm. Existing certification labels often validate transactions through non-transparent, error-prone control procedures, with farmers regularly only receiving a portion of the funds claimed to be earmarked for them. To combat this, seedtrace created a system that removes the room for error and enables customers to monitor the extra income paid to farmers. “We verify each transaction and store it on an open, low-emission blockchain. Together with Koa, we thereby set new standards assuring that the information is verified, cannot be manipulated and is accessible in real-time for all stakeholders,” explains Ana Selina Haberbosch, CEO at seedtrace.

Blockchain enables full transparency

The new system is unique as it connects blockchain with mobile money transactions. “Instead of having a person enter information on the blockchain, it links the data from mobile money transactions. This combination allows us to verify additional farmer income, deliver full proof and increase trust among stakeholders,” says Francis Appiagyei-Poku, Finance and Administration Director at Koa. To make this possible, Koa and seedtrace have partnered with MTN Group, Africa’s largest telecommunications operator, who’s mobile money transaction data serves as secure inputs for the blockchain provided by US company Topl. 360-degree transparency is achieved by implementing clear, transparent, and compliant data management processes that protects individual data and keep farmers informed of data use.
Oberweis first to integrate the system

Leading the way towards full transparency is Jeff Oberweis, the renowned pastry chef from Luxembourg, who sends consumers on a journey from cocoa farmers to the final product. A QR code on the packaging of the product containing Koa ingredients leads consumers to the seedtrace platform where they can see the additional farmer income. “In 2022, we want to have proof that people are paid fairly and that we work on an equal footing throughout the value chain. Koa’s integration of the blockchain guarantees total transparency and allows us to set an example to the industry,” emphasises Jeff Oberweis.

What is blockchain?
Blockchain technology is at its very core a database, distributed across many servers in a network. The biggest benefits of using blockchain for supply chain management are transparency and traceability. Essentially, blockchain allows organizations to store information about transactions and their impact in an immutable and transparent way, ensuring that information about upstream events arrives downstream unaltered. Since the companies Koa and seedtrace are using a public blockchain and every actor has their own copy of the chain, it cannot be tampered with, which increases the transparency and trust- worthiness of the provided information.
Since Koa pays farmers with mobile money (real money) through the mobile payment provider MTN, the tracing partner seedtrace can verify every individual transaction. Once triggered by Koa, seedtrace verifies through MTN whether the transaction arrived with the right person and the right amount before storing the data immutably on the blockchain.

Valrhona cooperated with Koa to create Oabika, the new cocoa fruit juice concentrate for chefs and other gastronomy professionals. The flavourful ingredient delivers a new experience with a smooth texture and a unique taste. Oabika is an impactful innovation for the gastronomy with a sustainable vision.

After several months of research and development, Oabika was born. French premium chocolate manufacturer Valrhona has launched the new cocoa fruit ingredient in cooperation with Swiss-Ghanaian start-up Koa. Oabika is the very first cocoa fruit juice concentrate at 72° Brix* created especially for the food service. It has the highest concentration on the food service market providing a silky consistency and an amber-coloured appearance. Besides its fruity and tangy flavour, Oabika surprises through its candied, honey-like notes.

Frédéric Bau, pastry explorer at Maison Valrhona, and Victor Delpierre, drink expert and gastronomy consultant, describe Oabika as a “complete and playful experience.” They both state that “Oabika is a magical ingredient that highlights, enhances and balances tastes. It represents an exceptional moment in time, deliciously refreshing, which takes you on a journey deep inside the pod to the heart of a cocoa plantation.”

After Koa’s success with their cocoa fruit juice and dried cocoa fruit, the new concentrate elaborated by Valrhona together with Koa is an innovation that complements the range of cocoa fruit ingredients. Oabika offers a multitude of applications such as ganache, jellies, mousses, toppings, sauces, glazes, creams, ice creams, sorbets, or drinks. Whether it’s to create new flavour experiences or to demonstrate what sustainable value creation in the cocoa-growing countries really means.

Upcycling the cocoa fruit to increase farmers’ income

The availability of cocoa fruit concentrate for chefs and other gastronomy professionals signifies a milestone for the cocoa fruit valorisation and the cocoa farmers. As the demand for cocoa fruit ingredients grows rapidly, the chances to create a positive impact in the cocoa-growing countries increases at the same time. Until recently, the pulp that surrounds the cocoa beans couldn’t be processed in cocoa-growing countries due to a lack of infrastructure and technology. In conventional cocoa processing, only a small part of the white pulp was used for fermentation, the rest was lost. Koa has found an innovative way to gently process the cocoa fruit in close cooperation with 1,600 smallholders. “As we make use of the cocoa pulp, we provide smallholders with an additional income and at the same time, we create jobs for the young population in rural Ghana,” Daniel Otu, Operations Director at Koa in Ghana, explains.

For Koa, the cooperation with Valrhona is a success. Co-Founder and Managing Director Anian Schreiber emphasises: “As a start-up, we’re proud to be cooperating with a highly reputable and well-established chocolate brand as Valrhona who shares our mission of taking responsibility in cocoa-growing countries to the next level. With the launch of Oabika, we demonstrate how indulgence and responsibility for people and planet go hand in hand. We encourage others to seek such partnerships to tackle some of the food system’s most pressing challenges together.”

Oabika has been launched worldwide in September 2021 including Europe, Asia, USA and Middle East.

*The Brix scale is used to measure the fraction of sucrose in a liquid in degrees Brix, meaning the percentage of soluble, dry matter. The higher the degree Brix, the sweeter the sample, with more concentrated flavours.