Working to ensure fair payment for Indonesian cocoa farmers – Meet Sabrina
Q: Hi Sabrina, tell us a bit more about Krakakoa and what you do.
I’m Sabrina, the CEO of Krakakoa. We are a chocolate company that has been around since 2013. We support farmers in producing organically grown cocoa beans – at a higher level of compensation than the Fairtrade minimum price. We also provide training to our partners and farmers, enabling them to increase the health of cocoa trees and the soil health of the plantation.
Q: What is your background and how long have you been in the business?
I used to be a consultant with McKinsey, focusing on agriculture development. Whether it was developing an agriculture strategy to increase food sufficiency or security, or increase investments in commercial agriculture, a lot of my work focused on that. I’m lucky because it is an area of personal and professional passion.
I am fascinated by the agriculture industry as a whole and how it links to many facets of life. When you think about nutrition, health, economic development and climate change, a lot of the solutions for these issues have links to the agriculture sector.
I'm attracted by the complexity of the agriculture industry and feeling challenged by how we solve a lot of these accompanying issues.
Q: What was your motivation to set up Krakakoa?
I was writing a report for the McKinsey Global Institute about the state of agriculture in Indonesia. Before then, I never knew that Indonesia was one of the largest producers of cocoa beans in the world. Despite this, the best chocolate in the world is largely imported from Europe. This realization didn’t make sense to me as we grow cocoa here in Indonesia.
Upon research, I understood that the biggest barrier to cocoa farming was that smallholder cocoa farmers in Indonesia produce relatively low-quality beans that generate less revenue for farmers.
It got me thinking: why don't we support our farmers here with the training they need to increase their productivity, price their beans higher on their behalf and enable them to make better profit by selling their products locally? And that’s how Krakakoa was born.
Q: Who are your biggest influencers in your life?
My dad. When I was growing up, he did a lot of work in the agriculture space such as coffee trading and producing animal feed. Funnily enough, he was concerned about my decision to major in International Agriculture in college. I think he understood the challenges women might face working in agriculture. He was especially concerned about job prospects as well, but I was committed to the cause.
Q: What are the challenges you find in your business (as a woman agripreneur) and how have you overcome them?
There have been a couple of cases where male colleagues, government individuals and partners would speak to my male counterparts first rather than to me directly. For me, it's very clear that there are certain gender biases. I want to abolish these biases through my work and do this by providing women in the supply chain equal opportunities to earn a living and enable them to view themselves as entrepreneurs.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see change for the farmers in your supply chain?
Getting rid of all the diseases on farms will be a complete game-changer. Farmers would no longer have to worry about the pest management or pest control. This will improve the quality of the yield and will make local farming more attractive as working on the farm will be easier.
I also dream of building a chocolate factory with an Education Center so school kids can come and visit – it’ll give them the chance to see how chocolate is made, first-hand. In my point of view, many Indonesian children and some adults still don't have an appreciation for sustainability. Driving this change is essential to garner the support and compliance of governments and businesses alike.
Within the factory, there will be an amphitheatre where guests can learn more about sustainability, forests, and wildlife, where they can understand the role they play in preserving our planet for the next generation.
Q: What is one message that you could give to encourage or support other women farmers or other women who are working in the agriculture field or women business owners like you?
I think for the people who are attracted to work in this space, just do it. Indeed, along the way, you will encounter different problems, challenges, people who don't believe in you, or people who make you question yourself – but remember what it felt like at the beginning of your journey and hold on to that feeling.