Earlier this year, Bike for Africa was welcomed by SOCFIN in Grand Béréby, Ivory Coast, a beautiful rubber and palm oil plantation, for a 4 day long biking tour. It turned out to be an unforgettable experience for its participants, Brussels Airlines and Socfin staff and management alike. The plantation, a concession of nearly 35 000 hectares of tropical agriculture, with two thirds of that dedicated to rubber and the remainder to palm oil, and its well-maintained road system is a perfect environment to explore Africa at its best.
Within its premises, the plantation has its own rubber factory and a palm oil mill. Nearly 9000 people are employed directly and many more benefit from indirect employment. Socfin provides full health care support for its employees and their immediate families, supports the schools within the plantation and has a structural consultation process with all its stake holders in and around the plantation on social, economic and environmental performance.
The weather in January in Ivory Coast is pretty warm compared to Europe and cycling in 30°C plus temperatures from the first day was a challenge. But the beauty of the scenery, the typical African colors, the overwhelmingly friendly local people, quickly made us forget the physical effort we were confronted with. Hospitality in Ivory Coast is at its best and the cheering by young and old was that overwhelming that we all felt , just for a few days, like any professional biker in the Tour the France!
The Socfin Group is present in Africa, more specifically in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon and Congo DRC as well as in Asia, more specifically in Indonesia and Cambodia. The Group’s plantations produce palm oil and rubber. In Ivory Coast, the rubber (and palm) tree estate is called Société des Caoutchoucs de Grand-Béréby (SOGB).