The organization was founded as Kuapa Kokoo Limited in 1993 by a group of cocoa farmers supported by Twin Trading, a UK alternative trade organization, and SNV, the Netherlands Development Organization. This was in response to the partial liberalization of the cocoa industry in Ghana in which the structure was changed from a single government-controlled cocoa purchasing entity to a system in which private companies could take on the role of licensed cocoa buyers. Nana Yaw Frimpong Abebrese, a farmer representative on the Board of the then Ghana Cocoa Marketing Company, gained the support of TWIN, SNV, and Christian Aid and mobilized other farmers to register Kuapa Kokoo Limited.
TWIN a British NGO with the experience gained working with Latin American coffee farmers thought of helping cocoa farmers in Ghana to form a Cooperative upon Ghana liberalizing the internal marketing of cocoa. The aim was for the farmers to benefit from the liberalization. TWIN represented by Pauline Tiffen and Richard Day travelled to Ghana and were advised to contact Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Upon contacting COCOBOD, officials of COCOBOD linked the TWIN representatives to Nana Frimpong Abebrese of blessed memory who was the farmer’s representative on COCOBOD Board of Directors during that time. Nana Abebrese then took up the task of helping the establishment of the farmers’ Cooperative with the support and funding of the TWIN representatives. The TWIN representatives then left the formation of the Cooperative to Nana Frimpong Abebrese and returned to UK.
Nana Frimpong Abebrese during the 1993 main crop season set up the organization and furthermore got farmers to agree to form a Union to start operation. He quickly formed Kuapa Kokoo Limited and since he needed to have shareholders to form the company decided to have farmers as shareholders.
Hailing from Akomadan in Ashanti region, he went to Akomadan and invited known cocoa farmers from Akomadan operating in Ashanti and other regions, since COCOBOD required that an LBC operate in not less than (3) three cocoa regions to qualify for the license at that time. The first shareholders were:
Mr. Kojo Appiah Kubi was made the Secretary of the Union. Shares were allocated to these farmers representing farmers in the respective localities where they have their farms. i.e. Nana Osei Yaw Akoto – Sankore, Brong Ahafo region, Opanin Kwaku Bio- Buteraise - Western region, Opanin Abdulai Kwarteng and Mr. Acquah – Ashanti region. The representative farmers did not pay anything towards owning of shares as there was no documented evidence of such. After the first year of operations, Kuapa Kokoo faced huge setback as Nana Frimpong Abebrese (Founder) met his untimely death.
TWIN representatives later visited Ghana to assess the operations of the organization only to realize Kuapa Kokoo was in dire straits, operations had not gone well and the formation was not cooperative as intended. Explanations for poor performance and the state of distress did not go down well with the TWIN representatives. The choice was to leave or re-organize the organization. TWIN representatives upon consultation and advice choose to re-organize Kuapa Kokoo and move forward in the interest of the farmers.
TWIN representatives called a meeting of the shareholders and requested payment for shares they were holding to offset accumulated liabilities of Kuapa. TWIN had an agreement with SNV-Netherlands office in Accra who agreed to support farmers and their trainings towards re-organizing the farmers into a Union. Nana Ansong was the SNV staff engaged in Kuapa Kokoo by SNV for this purpose. Madam Frema Osei Opare then Deputy Country Director of SNV-Ghana was the brain behind SNV support to Kuapa and towards the formation of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union.
TWIN also engaged Mr. David McMahon from London to come over to oversee the operations of the organization, he stayed for about a year and left in 1995. The company appeared recovering under the re-organization. The company had the shareholders being members of KKL Board with Madam Frema Osei-Opare, the Deputy Country Director being a member of the KKL Board, representing the interest of TWIN and SNV and also ensuring that the wider farmer beneficiaries - Future Union interest is catered for.
She played a vital role in the re-organization until she left her position for Action Aid as the Country Director, she further played viable advisory role till time could not allow her to be close to Kuapa Kokoo. With the intending exit of Mr. David McMahon, TWIN’s representative on the direct management of KKL, TWIN and SNV tried hard to have a successor and put KKL under proper management structure. They ended up recruiting an operations manager Mr. Kofi Boadi – Amponim of blessed memory.
Later in August 1995, they also succeeded in engaging Mr. Kwabena Ohemeng-Tinyase as the company’s first Managing Director. He was before his appointment working with the Ghana Food Distribution Corporation (GFDC) as their Area Manager for Ashanti region. Mr. Ohemeng-Tinyase, then started the full scale re-organization and development of Kuapa Kokoo with the support of TWIN’s representative, Madam Pauline Tiffen and Madam Frema Osei-Opare of SNV Ghana. The team of Madam, Osei-Opare, Madam Pauline Tiffen and Mr. Ohemeng-Tinyase contributed immensely to the present great foundation Kuapa Kokoo hinges on.
Madam Frema Osei-Opare brought to bear on the organization the matured traditional experiences, blending, ethics, management and business principles to guide Kuapa’s developments. Madam Pauline Tiffen, brought in the foreign vision for Kuapa Kokoo. She linked Kuapa Kokoo to all the foreign institutions especially Fairtrade community and DFID-England. She together with the other members of the named team were a big asset to Kuapa’s restructuring and development.
Mr. Kwabena Ohemeng-Tinyase was the chief administrator, in-charge of the daily operations of the organisation and together with his management team implemented all Board policies, advise and contributions of the two (2) ladies mentioned with precision, with the interest of all the farmer members at heart.