Created in 1969 to open up the southwest of the country, SOGB (La Société des Caoutchoucs de Grand Béréby) has become an undeniable regional development factor over the decades. Today, SOGB is the country’s second rubber producer and third palm oil producer.
The government decided to pull out of the national economy’s production sectors in 1990 and proceeded with the privatization of the rubber and oil palm sectors in 1995 and 1996.
What was their objective? They wanted to give the buyers the responsibility to further develop the smallholdings and industrial sectors through:
Extending existing plantations and creating new ones;
Rehabilitating and increasing the capacity of existing industrial units;
Establishing new units.
It was in this context that the Socfin Group, together with a national investor, acquired a majority stake in SOGB in 1994.
Since its privatization, the company has aimed to ensure the plantation’s long-term viability, and hence the jobs of thousands of workers. Therefore, it has implemented an investment policy focusing on the production unit: plantations, factories, rolling stock, etc.
Beyond its economic, technological and agricultural performance, SOGB has firmly opted for a sustainability approach.
It has implemented an environmental management approach based on the ISO 14001 standard, incorporating the sustainable management of its protected areas. This has allowed SOGB to implement actions in the following domains: training, environmental audits, prevention, protection, rational product use, separate waste collection, development of 2 648 ha of protected areas, etc.
SOGB also attaches great importance to social factors. For example, the company constructs primary schools and infrastructure for the plantation workers, but also for the plantation’s surrounding communities. The 15 schools constructed on the plantation contribute to the high school attendance rate of the children of plantation workers and villagers in the region.
SOGB participates widely in the fight against unemployment in this region of the country. It employs over 9 000 people directly and indirectly and facilitates about 40 000 people to make a living from the activity of the company.
In 2009, SOGB signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the communities of its 13 surrounding villages. It prescribes the funding of community projects for the local people: health centers, schools, housing, boreholes, etc. This unique partnership is still bearing fruit today.
As a real backbone of economic development in the southwestern region, SOGB is listed on the Abidjan stock exchange: the BRVM (Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières).
Côte d’Ivoire is characterized by its thousands of smallholders. The last census counted near 160 000 rubber planters in the country as a whole, including 20 000 in the southwestern region. This is not surprising, as these smallholders benefit from SOGB’s support in smallholding creation and technical assistance.
The projects’ success has created such enthusiasm that local people have planted about 65 000 hectares of independent rubber plantations around the plantation. SOGB buys their annual production, thereby contributing to the significant improvement of the local residents’ living conditions: modern housing, transport, education from primary school to university, the establishment of a bank, a pharmacy, etc.