In preparation for the 2024 Partnership Meeting taking place during Amsterdam Cocoa Week from February 5-10, WCF sat down with Caroline Lubbers, Director of the WINCC Network to discuss the mission of the network and its goals for the future.
What is WINCC? Can you share a bit about its history?
WINCC stands for “Women In Cocoa & Chocolate.” It was started by Beatrice Moulianitaki who, during her role of Program manager Cocoa Europe for Solidaridad, noticed the difficulties women could experience when conducting business or trying to become successful in the cocoa market. She thought it would be beneficial if women could meet and support each other. She also hoped to use women empowerment to help create a more sustainable cocoa industry. WINCC was launched in 2016, just as Moulianitaki was going on maternity leave, and I [Caroline] replaced her as WINCC Director. WINCC seeks to connect, engage, and inspire women by removing barriers to participation throughout the cocoa and chocolate value chain and empower women to increase their sphere of influence.
Why is WINCC needed in the cocoa sector?
The cocoa sector is quite male dominated, and it would benefit from having more women involved in decision making. WINCC is here to create a network to support women and provide them with a safe space to have their voices heard and develop skills. WINCC also provides a different perspective from other initiatives because we focus on primarily on women connecting with other women.
WINCC recognizes that men are also vital in the work towards gender equality, and they must be included, but we have also seen the benefits of focusing exclusively on women to provide this unique space where women in cocoa and chocolate can meet other women and they are heard. Both approaches are clearly (still) needed.
We are determined to identify opportunities to recognize if women’s voices are included and (if not) identify the steps needed to make it happen. As long as there are barriers to women’s voices and inclusion in the cocoa industry, the WINCC Network will be needed.
What is WINCC focusing on this year?
We have several priority focus areas, including some new initiatives. We will launch the WINCC Speakers Academy, which is a database of female speakers, board members, and advisory committee members. Upon request and collaboration, WINCC can provide names and connect women to speaking and job opportunities. Additionally, the academy will support women (if needed) in developing speaking skills. The purpose of the academy is more engagement and visibility of women as experts in conferences but also in management, advisory, and governance positions.
Another initiative we will be developing are WINCC Mentorships which consists of matching mentors and mentees in cocoa industry to boost women’s careers and businesses. Additionally, we will continue our WINCC events, both online and offline to continue to meet each other and get inspired.
Please save the date!
Source and picture: WINCC