Improve prosperity

ECOM is helping farmers invest in secure, resilient businesses that empower them, their families and their communities to lead dignified and prosperous lives.


Improve Prosperity



  • Empowering farmers, workers and their communities to optimise their profitability and ultimately remove poverty

  • Eliminating breaches of human rights through proper risk identification and remediation

As part of our commitment to improving farmer and worker livelihoods, we want to empower farmers, workers and their communities to optimise their profitability and ultimately remove poverty. Across the ECOM Group, we have a portfolio of projects covering more than 600,000 farmers, with a network of 1500 field agronomists and staff.

Areas for strategic focus

Assessing the risks

ECOM does not tolerate child or forced labour in our supply chains and we believe that farmers can and should be given the support to uphold globally recognised human rights, including safe and fair workplaces.

We have developed a set of policies that align with leading international standards, including: The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; The International Labour Organisation core labour standards, conventions 182 (worst forms of child labour) and 138 (minimum age); Applicable laws governing child labour, slavery, forced or compulsory labour, and human trafficking.

What this means in practice


CLMRS was developed by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) with the aim of improving the lives of children and reducing child labour in cocoa-growing communities. The system works by engaging with cocoa communities in a relationship of deep trust and open communication. Members of the community are trained to recognise, report and help remediate cases of child labour, leveraging their first-hand knowledge of their neighbours and the cultural sensitivities that are involved.

Working with experts

We currently serve on the global advisory council for the Farm Labour Due Diligence Toolkit, a Verité led collaborative initiative to define good practice and create open-source resources for companies, suppliers and other stakeholders to eliminate labour abuses in global agricultural supply chains. We are looking to evaluate those resources and define our priorities for our cocoa, coffee, and cotton supply chain and potentially test/pilot the resources.

Prioritising education

The ILO’s definition of child labour includes work that interferes with children’s schooling. For coffee pickers who have to move from district to district, sending their children to the same school isn’t always possible. ECOM’s coffee division has been working on projects across Central America to support the children of coffee pickers through mobile education centres so that they can continue to learn whilst their parents harvest the crop.

Living income baseline

The concept goes beyond traditional notions of poverty alleviation that are concerned with basic subsistence and survival. It puts a strong emphasis on earning enough income to afford a decent standard of living for all household members allowing for a higher resilience towards unexpected shocks.

As we recognize living income as a basic human right, we have committed to establishing a living income baseline in our origin sourced supply chain complete with action plans to close the identified gaps in an effort to formalize our approach going forward.

What this means in practice

Social Progress Index (SPI)

In 2020, we implemented the SPI to help us assess the social health and wellbeing of our farming communities by measuring progress against three areas: • Basic human needs: food, shelter, safety, medical care • Wellness: access to knowledge, education, environmental quality, information and communication, freedom of speech • Opportunity: personal rights, freedom of choice, inclusiveness, access to advanced education

Enabling income diversification

We are committed to ensuring a dynamic and sustainable future for farmers and to implementing a comprehensive set of initiatives to tackle the financial health of our farmers from multiple sides. We are providing training in efficient techniques and capital investment for new tools that can empower women and youth in farming communities with skills to help diversify family incomes.

Making farm equipment affordable

Innovations in agriculture are helping farmers rapidly transition to new and more productive processes, but for many farmers, financial constraints can put these developments out of reach. At ECOM, our package of measures to engage with and improve life for farmers and their families includes: developing resilience through tailored training on new technologies; farm renovation and rehabilitation; providing digital support in the form of accessible, app-based platforms; making farm equipment affordable with low-cost machinery, flexible payment choices and post-purchase training.


gender disparities

Even though many women participate in farming, gender disparities remain in cocoa communities around access and support. This can sometimes be attributed to not considering the impacts of gender when developing programmes. For example, training sessions may be conducted at times when children are not at school, making it difficult for women to participate.

In 2021 ECOM collaborated with Equal Origins (formerly the Partnership for Gender Equity) and industry peers in order to develop the Gender Equity Index (GEI) tool to assess current farmer support practices through a gender lens and to see where we could improve gender disparities. In developing the tool, we explored what we wanted the Index to tell us and what questions we should ask stakeholders to get the right information.

What this means in practice

Gender Equity Index

During 2021, ECOM worked with Equal Origins to develop the Gender Equity Index (GEI) to assess current extension and advisory services through a gender lens. Following two pilots, in Ghana and Peru, the final index was launched by Equal Origins in early 2022 as a 67-question diagnostic tool that will help ECOM to identify precise areas for actions to improve gender performance. Innovative solutions like the GEI will be rolled out across the Group, taking us further towards our goal of improving farmer livelihoods across the world.

Empowering women

Women are key to agriculture, and their role in the supply chain is often misrepresented. ECOM works with its network to identify women who are community leaders and support them with specialised training and support. Through collaboration with stakeholders, ECOM is able to train women in areas such as farm and nursery management. Participation in these activities contributes to enhancing the women’s decision making power on the farm and in their communities, thereby empowering them to make strategic choices and put them into action.

Supporting communities

When work at the farm becomes tough and communities come together to work together, women are a key part of the process. In coffee communities where women coffee pickers are not able to leave their children in safe locations, ECOM unites with local partners to bring communities together and provide secure communal homes for children to stay and benefit from educational and health services as mothers are able to participate in economic activities during the coffee season.

Continuous Learning

Through a trusted network of specialists on the ground, we’ll be able to provide services and training on a range of issues, from soil management to labour practices. In this way we can support smallholder farmers to build capacity and resistance and gain greater market access, so that they can compete with larger producers in the international market.

Our incentives and training programmes encourage climate-smart agricultural practices and increase productivity. Diversification schemes help make farmer incomes more stable, while financial services allow them to invest in their own land. Wherever we source, we have roots in the community, for example with our programmes to educate and empower women and, with our partners, our work towards the eradication of child labour.