Sustainability has been on the industry's mind of late, and Mars continues to increase its efforts.

From decreasing environmental impact by making its North America plants landfill-free to pledging to achieve 100 percent sustainably sourced cocoa by 2020, Mars has been actively invested in sustainability efforts for more than 20 years.

Recently, it took another step.

Mars-owned DOVE Chocolate announced at the 2016 Care National Conference that it was partnering with Care to launch a women's empowerment program in Cote d’Ivoire.

 “At Mars, we feel it’s our responsibility to not only produce the world’s best quality chocolate, but also ensure we create mutually beneficial environments where everyone involved thrives when making DOVE from bean to bar,” said Berta de Pablos-Barbier, v.p. of marketing, Mars Chocolate North America. “Our efforts with CARE are designed to put programs in place to empower women in the cocoa supply chain and elicit change throughout the industry by enriching and improving farming communities in cocoa-producing regions.”

Through the partnership, Care will work in communities where DOVE Chocolate is sourced to set up Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), which provide farmers with safe places to save money and access loans. Not only will the VSLA encourage business efforts of women in farming communities, but they also tend to become hubs in their communities, promoting group solidarity and learning while establishing a way to address community development issues.

With more business opportunities open to them, the women in these communities can earn more income, which will allow them to invest more in their families and communities.

 “We are thrilled to partner with DOVE Chocolate on this new women’s empowerment program in Cote d’Ivoire,” said Tolli Love, CARE’s Vice President of Fundraising and Marketing. “Our pioneering work in this area, particularly with the VSLA model introduced in 1991, has proven successful in inspiring transformative change among the cocoa communities in which we operate. Now in partnership with DOVE, we’re extending the benefits of this program to more and more families in the region.”

For videos and infographics about the partnership, visit DOVE Chocolate's blog.