GHANA – Niche Confectionery Ltd, a chocolate manufacturer and subsidiary of Niche Cocoa Ltd Ghana has signed a US$8.82 million financing agreement with The Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) to support expansion of its cocoa processing capabilities.

With the credit facility, Niche will purchase manufacturing equipment which allows the manufacturer to produce confectionery such as chocolate spreads, ready-to-drink chocolate milk, and chocolate bars. 

Niche seeks to channel to market the products in the regional market, accelerating the company’s ambition of becoming Africa’s leading bean-to-bar producer.

Edmund Poku, Chief Executive Officer of Niche, expressed his appreciation for FMO’s support, stating, “With this loan Niche can contribute to Ghana’s industrialization by moving up the value chain to tertiary cocoa processing. 

“As we do, we are excited to know that affordable premium chocolate and other confectionery products will be made available to a wider swathe of people throughout Africa, including many who have never known the taste of chocolate.”

In addition, the funding will enable Niche to buy equipment that produces fortified chocolate milk for more than 1 million Ghanaian school children on a daily basis under the country’s School Feeding Program. 

Linda Broekhuizen, Chief Investment Officer at FMO said: “With this transaction FMO expands its relationship with Niche, thereby supporting Ghana’s most important agricultural sector by adding more value locally and increasing jobs.”

Ghana is the world’s highest-quality bulk cocoa beans producer and second in global production of cocoa, with 20% of the world’s harvest.

However, a relatively low amount of value addition takes place in-country, with about two-thirds of its beans are exported as raw cocoa subsequently resulting to lower incomes for cocoa farmers.

The credit facility will boost the country’s efforts of improving the lives of millions of cocoa farmers whose income is predominantly dependent on cocoa farming.

Markedly, Niche is working closely with two cocoa co-operatives in Ghana to produce certified organic cocoa products and increase farmer incomes to a sustainable level that allows them earn a living wage and send their children to school. 

Founded in 2011, Niche is also gearing up to be one of the major drivers in revolutionizing the cocoa industry in Ghana.

The company is seeking to scale up its contribution in the value chain by producing confectionery that meets the growing local demand for premium consumer products that incorporate high-end refining and marketing.

Niche employs more than 360 people domestically and its activities represent an important source of foreign exchange earnings for Ghana. The company currently produces high-quality, semi-finished cocoa products for export.