An astounding 10,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire are now mobile – with their finances, that is.

Barry Callebaut's mobile banking program is celebrating its 10,000th member just in time for Christmas. Zallé Alimissi Salame, from the village of Tiokorodougou, received his mobile phone and solar charger from Barry Callebaut’s local team in Côte d’Ivoire.

The financial system is based on secure mobile phone technology and is offered to farmers who are registered with Biopartenaire, Barry Callebaut's direct farmer sourcing and services organization. Once the farmers receive their phones, payments for cocoa bean deliveries can be made directly to their accounts.

This new system eliminates many theft concerns, which are a constant worry for farmers keeping cash. With the mobile banking program, financial assets are password-secured. They can also be used directly for payments at shops or public institutions, and can be withdrawn as cash from cashpoints.

 “Mobile banking represents a step-change in making cocoa farming a more professional and sustainable business," says Andres Tschannen, who initiated the program while running Biopartenaire. "It benefits 10,000 farmers and their families and underlines Barry Callebaut’s strategy to support farmer livelihoods.”

The program was born out of a partnership between Biopartenaire and phone services provider Orange CI. The costs of the solar chargers and withdrawal costs are supported through a public-private partnership program between DEG (Deutsche Entwicklungsgesellschaft) and Barry Callebaut.

As for 57-year-old Salame, the 10,000th farmer to receive his mobile phone and solar charger? He's thrilled.

 “I would like to thank all the people who initiated this program. This will change my life," he says. "Today, I feel like it is Christmas and Biopartenaire is Santa Claus.”