Anne-Marie Yao is the Regional Cocoa Manager at Fairtrade Africa. Affectionately known as Mama Cocoa by the farmers she works with, is Fairtrade’s Regional Cocoa Manager for Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Formerly a Senior Consultant at Fairtrade International, in her current role Anne Marie develops, coordinates and implements Fairtrade cocoa strategy.
Anne-Marie Yao, affectionately known as Mama Cocoa by the farmers she works with, is Fairtrade’s Regional Cocoa Manager for Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Formerly a Senior Consultant at Fairtrade International, in her current role Anne Marie develops, coordinates and implements Fairtrade cocoa strategy. She works with producers on achieving the current market demands, increasing volume and creating lasting impact for communities and farmers. Anne Marie has developed and implemented the Women’s School of Leadership in Cote d'Ivoire and established income generating activities for women Through the use of the Fairtrade Premium from cocoa sales. This initiative enables female and male farmers to fight for equality in their communities, giving them the self-confidence and knowledge to stand up for themselves, their children and women in the community. They teach valuable business skills, and the importance of educating their children – both boys and girls – to encourage a change in mindsets that will influence future generations.
A graduate of the National Polytechnic Institution of Yamoussoukro, Anne-Marie Yao is passionate about equity and social justice. She started her career in the cocoa sector in 2009 in Cocoa trading before working with producers and communities for two years, which helped her understand the Ivorian context on the one hand and the issues that impact the living conditions of producers, especially women, on the other. Anne-Marie joined Fairtrade International in 2012 as an international consultant, in charge of support and capacity building of producer organizations. Since 2016, she is the Cocoa Program Manager and Gender Focal Point for Fairtrade Africa West Africa Network, giving her the opportunity to use her skills acquired in MBA Management and Business Administration and Corporate Social Responsibility and more recently in gender and development.
As part of Fairtrade's global cocoa strategy, Anne-Marie Yao is also responsible for the implementation of the personal development and empowerment program for women in Fairtrade communities, known as the Women's Leadership School, in the cocoa sector in Côte d'Ivoire.