ICI is a leading non-profit foundation that promotes child protection in cocoa-growing communities. Uniting the forces of the cocoa and chocolate industry, civil society, farming communities and national governments in cocoa-producing countries, ICI ensures a better future for children and advances the elimination of child labour. We work with our partners to ensure that cocoa-growing communities are more protective of children and their rights, that the cocoa supply chain manages the risk of child labour responsibly and that knowledge and information are promoted openly and transparently.

Operating in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana since 2007, we have implemented holistic child protection strategies in 742 cocoa-growing communities and 149 farming cooperatives benefiting nearly 800,000 children.

Our work

We support communities, reinforce supply chains, engage with national authorities and advocate internationally for cocoa that is sustainable and free of child labour.

In communities
we tackle root causes

  • Awareness - raising activities
  • Community development:
    – Education
    – Health
    – Water / sanitation
    – Livelihoods
  • Community Child Protection Committees

In the supply chain we promote due diligence 

  • Training of farmers and supply chain actors
  • Embedding of Child Labour Monitoring & Remediation Systems
  • Engagement with certification schemes and sustainability standards

At national level we support governments in their child protection efforts 

  • Training for authorities
  • Technical advice to governments
  • Public awareness-raising
  • Support to relevant policies and national action plans

At international level we build knowledge and advocate for children’s rights

  • Data collection & research 
  • Dissemination of knowledge & good practices
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • International policy engagement


ICI’s vision is of thriving cocoa-growing communities where children’s rights are respected and protected, and where child labour has been eliminated. 


ICI works to improve the lives of children in cocoa-growing communities, safeguarding their rights and contributing to the elimination of child labour by supporting the acceleration and scale-up of child-centred community development and of responsible supply chain management throughout the cocoa sector.


ICI aims to improve child protection for one million children by 2020.

Our values

We believe that ICI’s responsibility is to help, protect and serve those who are in need, particularly by putting the best interests of vulnerable children and their families at the heart of our interventions,  as well as by promoting and upholding fairness, justice and dignity, both inside and outside of ICI.

We uphold the highest standards of honesty, accountability, and transparency in all aspects of our work. We are committed to exercising and demonstrating an appropriate, efficient and rational use of resources for the maximum impact possible.

We are independent, unbiased, impartial, equitable and inclusive in how we engage with beneficiaries, stakeholders and staff, and in the decisions we make

We believe that durable, scalable and impactful solutions depend on dialogue, collaboration, joint learning and coordinated, collective action. We promote a vision of shared responsibility, where everyone deriving revenue, profit or pleasure from cocoa or chocolate works together and contributes to a more dignified and sustainable supply chain.

We encourage creative thinking, challenging the status quo, and adapting to new realities. We are results-focused but are also ready to take calculated risks and to learn from failure as well as success. We aim to influence, inspire and lead the way.


Highlights of the year

What we achieved in 2018

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The year in numbers

Working with communities and supply chains

2018 showed compelling results from our development actions in 75 cocoa communities under the ICI Core Programme, from the increasing coverage of our CLMRS and within our ECLIC project.


farmers groups
assisted through


cocoa farming households
targeted by ICI’s CLMRS,
including 142,860 children


children identified in child
labor (representing 19% of all
children currently monitored

through CLMRS)


assisted through
ICI's activities


people benefiting from
community development


of whom are children


community development
actions implemented

Child-centred community
development actions in 75 ICI-assisted communities

Education actions

Classrooms built or renovated
School kitchens constructed / rehabilitated
School feeding programmes implemented
School desks provided
Teachers’ accomodations built
Other educational infrastructures built (appatams, head teacher offices, etc.)
Children benefited from bridging classes and other educational support
Children benefited from vocational training and apprenticeships
Youth and adults benefited from literacy and numeracy classes in Côte d’Ivoire
Children newly enrolled in school (at all levels)

Other community development actions

Community members benefited from Income Generating Activities
Farmers benefited from Community Service Groups
Birth certificates delivered to children in Côte d’Ivoire
Women’s Groups created
Child Protection Clubs established
Community Loans & Savings groups established in Côte d’Ivoire
Water points built / rehabilitated
Latrines built / rehabilitated
Health centres built / rehabilitated
Community members and cocoa farmers reached with ICI’s awareness-raising tools

Support to community development actions

(monetary or in-kind, by source)

Eliminating Child Labour in Cocoa (ECLIC) Project

The four-year ECLIC project, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, assists another 50 cocoa-producing communities in Côte d’Ivoire to develop and implement community action plans that  combat child labour at community level. Since 2015, the following results, among others, have been achieved :

Community members reached through awareness-raising activities, trainings on child labour and child rights
School blocks constructed /rehabilitated
Youth benefited from vocational training
School kits distributed in schools and bridging classes
Members of at-risk households benefited from Income Generating Activities and Loans & Savings Groups
Birth certificates distributed to at-risk children and youth
Bridging classes created, benefiting 579 out-of-school children and youth
Adults benefited from literacy classes
Schoolchildren trained on child rights and child protection

Child Labour Monitoring
and Remediation System (CLMRS)

ICI implements CLMRS projects with 8 companies. In total, by end-2018, 149 farmer groups / cooperatives were targeted, with the following results:

Farmers targeted
Farm visits
Households visited
Supply chain actors trained
Community members reached by ICI’s awareness-raising sessions (person / day)
Household members participated in Income Generating Activities
Children identified as involved in one or more hazardous tasks – total of 33,604 cases of child labour identified cumulatively since 2012
Individual remediation or prevention actions, benefiting at least 16,297 children

Prevalence of hazardous tasks amongst identified child labourers

Based on cumulative data as of end-2018. A child can be involved in more than one activity.

were carrying heavy loads
were involved in working with agrochemicals
were involved in bush burning
were involved in breaking cocoa pods with a machete
were involved in clearing of forest and / or felling of trees

Staff 2017–2018

Budget 2011–2018

(in CHF millions)


Message from the Executive Director

Nick Weatherill

Placing innovation and learning at the heart of our strategy

by Nick Weatherill

“ Our unique multi-stakeholder platform will continue to serve as the vehicle for concerted action by all parties – state actors, the private sector, civil society organisations and farming communities.” 

In 2018, we raised the bar, committing to make a real difference in the lives of even more children than we had anticipated in our 2015–2020 Strategy. We’ll now ensure improved child protection for 375,000 children by 2020 through direct, operational action: an 88% increase on our original target. We’ll achieve that by harnessing the knowledge, resources and expertise that we’ve developed – and by placing innovation and learning at the heart of what we do, so that we can adapt our tools, expand our collective reach and deepen our impact.

At ICI, we’ve long championed what we call a “dual approach” that combines prevention with response, addressing the root causes of child labour within farming communities while at the same time promoting responsible supply chain management. We’ve seen compelling results on both fronts. In 2018, we helped more than 2,000 children, including many former child labourers, get back into school. With our support, over 3,500 people raised their household incomes. Some 223 cocoa-growing communities are now better equipped to keep children protected. And through our supply chain monitoring work, we’ve confirmed once again that Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) can reduce the incidence of child labour amongst identified cases by more than 50%. What’s even more inspiring is the fact that the uptake and scale-up of these approaches continues across the sector. We now estimate that CLMRS-type due diligence mechanisms cover more than 200,000 farmers – or 10% of the cocoa supply chain – in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

We recognise that, while we’ve made considerable progress, we still have a long way to go. That’s why we’re piloting new approaches in 46 innovation hubs, sharing knowledge and experience across our membership as we seek more scalable solutions in quality education, forced labour risk management, and CLMRS. These three areas cover both aspects of our dual approach. On the response side, we’re focusing on better identifying and addressing child labour and forced labour – two of the most salient human rights issues in the cocoa supply chain. And on the prevention side, we’re building on research data we collected in 2018 that shows that, in those communities with a better schooling environment, child labour rates are 66% lower than where schooling standards are the poorest. By mixing new and innovative teaching methods with improvements to facilities and child protection, we’re hoping to demonstrate how local partners can combine and scale up these practices to enrol and retain more children in school.

With our dual approach, we operate at the nexus of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, and we believe that with our revised strategic focus on innovation and learning, we will help catalyse the required scale-up of effective prevention and due diligence practices. Our unique multi-stakeholder platform will continue to serve as the vehicle for concerted action by all parties – state actors, the private sector, civil society organisations and farming communities. Their unwavering effort, commitment and collaboration remain vital to the task ahead.

Message from ICI's Co-Presidents

ICI’s pioneering spirit clears the way for progress in child protection

Mil Niepold

Mil Niepold
Independent expert

As the Harkin-Engel Protocol era draws to a close, I find myself inevitably reflecting on ICI’s many accomplishments – but also on how much more remains to be done to address child and forced labour in the cocoa sector. 

Together, ICI’s robust multi-stakeholder model, innovation mindset, expertise and dedication have been successful in creating a more protective environment in numerous cocoa communities – but we need to do more. And just as we are beginning to make real progress on some important issues like child protection systems, girls’ education and bridging classes for older out-of-school youth, we have to recognise that bold new approaches will be needed that also factor in new threats, like the devastating impacts of climate change. At a time of increasing droughts, climate migration, income insecurity and political upheaval, an overly narrow focus on child labour will be insufficient to the task. Adapting our approaches will be key.

It is tempting to think of environmental issues as being outside ICI’s remit, but that is absolutely not the case.  ICI’s work on increasing girls’ access to education particularly stands out as the achievement that offers the most significant and durable hope for the future. Not only does this result in immediate and long-term child protection impacts, but, according to Project Drawdown, educating girls ranks sixth out of almost 80 solutions to addressing climate change; it could lower CO2 emissions by an estimated 52 billion tonnes by 2050. 

As we take stock of our achievements, learn from our mistakes and redouble our efforts to ensure a better future for children and their families, we will need to widen our perspective and build new alliances. ICI is a pioneering organisation, and one thing a pioneer does is clear the way for others. Through innovation, learning and adaptation, we can do just that. The children who are at the heart of ICI’s work are counting on us.

“ At a time of increasing droughts, climate migration, income insecurity and political upheaval, an overly narrow focus on child labor will be insufficient to the task. ”

Jeff Morgan
Mars Global Chocolate

As I prepare to step down as Co-President of ICI and Board representative for Mars Wrigley Confectionery, now is a good time to reflect on how ICI has evolved since it was set up in 2002. 

Having attended Board meetings of the newly formed ICI as a technical observer beginning in 2003, I had the opportunity to play my part in the creation of a small foundation that was tasked with tackling a very large and complex problem: addressing child labour and forced labour in the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. All of us on the ICI Board agree that the challenge remains just as immense today. Add to that the view among some stakeholders that certain commitments remain unmet – the Harkin-Engel Protocol and the 2010 Framework Agreement, to name but two – it is reasonable to ask whether ICI has made progress on addressing the issue. 

As my 15-year-plus working relationship with ICI draws to a close, I can state with absolute confidence that the answer to that question is a resounding “yes”. There is not enough space here to list everything ICI has done to bring about progress, but I can give a sense of what it has accomplished with a more general before-and-after picture.

In 2003, the ICI Board and Secretariat worked with sparse actionable information about child labour and forced labour in the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. And while civil society Board members and advisors contributed a wealth of knowledge from other areas, there was no tried-and-tested approach for an agricultural sector of this size. One aspect of the challenge was the fact that cocoa farms were small, family-owned and, for the most part, had no direct linkages to consumer markets.

As work progressed, it became apparent that a set of root causes – poverty, lack of education and inadequate access to other basic services – made tackling labour issues more complicated than many people had anticipated. Undeterred by this complexity, ICI and its supporting members have developed monitoring approaches that directly address child labour at the individual and household level, and have set up remediation activities that also help to prevent child labour within communities in the future and, addressing root-cause issues for many families through education, awareness and economic empowerment.

This progress – from a lack of knowledge to a deeper understanding of increasingly effective interventions – does not mean that the problem is solved. On the contrary, despite much progress, the work of ICI and its partners still reaches only a percentage of vulnerable farms and families.

Having grown up in the United States, my early history lessons were infused with stories of brave pioneers who moved westward carrying their few belongings in horse-drawn wagons. Every day was a struggle, moving towards a horizon that never seemed to change. In my view, ICI embodies that same pioneering spirit, likewise moving tirelessly towards a goal that appears ever elusive. But as for all pioneers, it is important to recognise that there is real movement towards the end goal. That recognition will be vital to ICI’s work going forward: recognition that progress is being made, that the foundation and its partners now understand how to address labour issues in the cocoa sector, and that the next step is to address the challenge of scale.

Highlights from our national teams

Côte d’Ivoire: linking public and private actors to support children

Official opening of the Bowaly Public Primary school

Bowaly used to have only a run-down classroom that served as a school for all the children in the community. In October 2018, a new public primary school complex opened to pupils. The school has seven classrooms, including a kindergarten with a playground, accommodation for seven teachers, a canteen, a toilet block, a water tower with pumps, and two solar panels. ICI built the school with support from Hershey’s, Cargill and Côte d’Ivoire’s Coffee and Cocoa Council.

“Together with our partners in government, industry and civil society, we work every day to achieve sustainable change, because we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to create his or her own future.”

Euphrasie Aka,
National Coordinator Côte d’Ivoire

Other 2018 highlights
in Côte d’Ivoire

The Government of Côte d’Ivoire and ICI agreed on an operational mechanism for coordinating and sustainably financing the integrated public–private child-labour monitoring system. The agreement was reached at a workshop organised by the National Committee for Monitoring Actions to Combat the Trafficking and Exploitation of Children and Child Labour (CNS) in partnership with ICI, bringing together some 50 national and international experts involved in the fight against child labour.

The review of Côte d’Ivoire’s National Action Plan (NAP) 2015–2017 to combat the trafficking and exploitation of children and child labour found an implementation rate of more than 70%, thanks to substantial efforts by partners, the cocoa and chocolate industry, and UN agencies and bodies such as ILO and UNICEF. The next Ivorian NAP is being drawn up.

Within the ECLIC project, ICI equipped remote cocoa-growing communities with solar panels providing access to electricity and safe drinking water. Kamiadji was one of the communities benefiting from these new installations, which were placed within the newly built school compound. Light bulbs connected to the solar panels enable evening literacy classes for adults or teachers’ class preparations.

In 2018, ICI began a series of trainings on the worst forms of child labour for journalists working for rural radio stations. Radio is a commonly used medium in cocoa-growing areas, and with the acquired knowledge on child labour, journalists can help us disseminate relevant information and raise awareness on the issue.

Ghana: collaboration and awareness-raising with national authorities

Robert Zehnder Learning Centre opens

Prior to 2015, there was no school at Afrisene Camp in Ghana, and children living there had to walk four miles every day to attend schools in neighbouring areas. The arduous journey meant enrolment rates were low. A new makeshift wooden structure failed to solve the problem, so community members included a request for a new school in the action plan they drew up with ICI’s help. The new building, consisting of three classrooms, an office, a storeroom and a sanitary facility, opened in September 2018 with over 50 pupils on roll. The school was named after Robert Zehnder, the late treasurer of ICI, in recognition of his commitment to child protection in cocoa-growing communities.

“Together with our partners in government, industry and civil society, we work every day to achieve sustainable change, because we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to create his or her own future.”

Mike Arthur,
National Coordinator Ghana

Other 2018 highlights
in Ghana

ICI sponsored the review of the Ghana Child Labour Monitoring System (GCLMS). A framework for public–private partnership was included in the draft GCLMS plan.

ICI collaborated with the authorities to link private-sector child monitoring systems with the government’s social protection scheme Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP). We worked with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to develop the Targeted Income Support to Vulnerable Households Project, which will target 2,500 beneficiaries.

ICI sponsored a multi-stakeholder sustainability dialogue session, part of a broader package of activities to mark World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL). Attendees discussed the sustainability of child-labour interventions in Ghana, learned about flagship ICI projects, and heard how ICI builds sustainability into its work.

ICI held a child-labour training session in Koforidua for 25 MPs and clerks from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises. The MPs came away with a clearer picture of the difference between child work and child labour, pledged to raise awareness of the issue among their constituents, and resolved to speak in child-labour debates in Parliament.


Meet our field officers

On the frontline of ICI’s effort

Our staff on the ground work closely with farmers and their families in cocoa-growing communities. They make them aware of the risks of child labour and accompany them on their journey towards increased child protection.

Bohoussou Roland Kouamé Fabrice

Bohoussou Roland Kouamé Fabrice
CLMRS Monitoring and Remediation Agent, Côte d’Ivoire

My role is to enable the cooperative to achieve its objectives in eradicating child labour in cocoa production. 

I am most impressed by the awareness-raising sessions we do with parents and producers to help them understand the value of respecting children’s rights. Why do they have to go to school? Why should children have a special place in today’s society? I think that the majority of parents in the communities are not informed. When I can talk to them, I am really satisfied, because I bring an opportunity for the community to be informed. 

My greatest satisfaction is the coaching of women. There is often a cultural perception that women are at a lower social level in communities. But with the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), we have begun to empower women through Income Generating Activities (IGAs). In “Bobossou Chantier”, for example, where I supervise 24 women, there are two IGA groups, one collective and one individual. Individual IGAs were carried out on plots ranging from 0.5 to 1 hectare. The result was incredible. Some women ended up with significant profits. With the motivation, advice and training they received in the field, they are now empowered and have a better standing in the communities. They are autonomous and happy. I am proud of what they have accomplished.

Isaac Kwaku Vifa

Isaac Kwaku Vifa
CLMRS Field Assistant, Ghana

My role as a Field Assistant is to work with the cooperative to achieve its goal of becoming child-labour-free. Together with the community facilitators, I carry out targeted household awareness-raising for the members of the cooperative. 

We also run community-wide awareness-raising sessions at churches and community events such as funerals and durbars. What motivates me in my job with the International Cocoa Initiative is all the remediation that we are doing for the children. I had a difficult childhood and wanted to drop out of school, but I had someone to encourage me to carry on. When children who have been identified by the system as child labourers or at risk of child labour receive support in various ways, it motivates me to do my best. Some of these children just needed footwear, books, bags or uniforms to attend school regularly. Others needed bicycles to help them make the four-mile daily commute to school. 

I am happy to say that we have been able to support all the 159 children who were identified by the system, and they are now in school and doing great. Aside from this, two Community Service Groups (CSGs) have also been set up to assist cocoa farmers with their work. This means the children can now fully concentrate on their education because the vacuum they left on the farm is being filled by these groups who provide affordable and trained adult labour. 

I know I am part of a great movement to improve the lives of children in cocoa-farming communities. I am keen to do more to make that happen.

Community profile

Zatta’s journey with ICI

Our approach relies on building vigilant communities that are protective of their children – now and in the future. Zatta, one of 75 communities we have been working with over the past three years, is a prime example of a common journey towards long-term sustainability.

Zatta has a population of about 7,000 adults and 3,200 children. With a total population of 10,200, it is the largest community ICI has worked with over the past three years. Zatta has a primary health care centre, a drinking water source is available in the community.

What ICI has done

We began by helping the community draw up an action plan, stating its vision for improved child protection and how that vision could be achieved. We held six local awareness-raising sessions on agrochemicals and heavy lifting, which were attended by 142 members of the community. 

We then built two classrooms for bridging classes in Zatta, enabling children who have dropped out of the public education system – or never attended school – to catch up with their peers. We also built a separate classroom for adult literacy and numeracy classes so that illiterate community members can learn basic reading and writing skills. 

Alongside these community education initiatives, we also set up a women’s group. Members received training on basic agricultural techniques so they could engage in Income Generating Activities (IGAs) and become more resilient to fluctuations in cocoa prices and harvests. To date, the women have planted 1.5 hectares of cassava and 1.5 hectares of maize. The group also received a cassava grater and press so they can make cassava paste. 

We also created a Community Service Group (CSG) in Zatta, giving farmers a source of affordable labour as an alternative to making their own children work the land. The CSG has so far undertaken 12 contracts on nine hectares of farmland.

Stories of perseverance
and aspiration

Emma (16) lives with her grandmother and her little sister. She ended up working on their farm because her grandmother could not afford to send her to school. By attending ICI’s new bridging classes in Zatta, she was able to catch up with her peers and rejoin the public education system.

“Thanks to the bridging class, I can read, I can write my name. I can count and read messages on the phone. I’d like to be a teacher someday.”

Guillaume (16) was eight when he fled civil violence in Bouaké. He now lives with his uncle and his family in Zatta. He never went to school, and he used to help his uncle on the cocoa farm. With ICI’s assistance, he started attending bridging classes before quickly moving on to mainstream school.

“Working on the cocoa farm made me feel ill. The chemicals they spray are bad for you. I’m now at the high school in Yamoussoukro. I got amazing grades in my first term there. I was so happy, I danced and bought a chicken to eat.”


Driving change

As a multi-stakeholder platform, ICI collaborates with partners on many different levels, and – whether they belong to industry, civil society or to cocoa-growing communities – their voices matter to us.

Elizabeth Akanbombire
Assistant Chief Labour Officer, Head of Child Labour Unit, Labour Department, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations of Ghana

“Child labour in Ghana is a multifaceted problem that needs to be addressed using a multi-sectorial approach. This is what the National Steering Committee on Child Labour seeks to address, and with the support of ICI and other partners, this vision is becoming a reality. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Foundation early last year. As part of this MoU, ICI agreed to support us to launch the second National Plan of Action (NPA2) on the worst forms of child labour and review the GCLMS to link to the common targeting mechanism being used by the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Programme. Aside from the impact that ICI is making in the communities they are currently working in, the Foundation has also contributed immensely to the efforts of the government. This dual approach of the Foundation has helped in the move towards the elimination of child labour in cocoa in Ghana. 

In 2019, we will be collaborating with the Foundation and other stakeholders, to carry out a comprehensive mapping of organisations engaged in Child labour elimination in Ghana and their interventions that contribute to the welfare of children.” 

Makoura Bamba
11 years old, fifth grade student at EPP Adjékonankro (EPP Bacanda PK10)

“Ever since I was born, I’ve seen my school building in a state of advanced decay. It was unfinished, and the roof had holes, the flooring was not made. It was difficult to sweep. After school, our feet were covered in dust. It was difficult to learn in such an environment. Our wish was to study in a renovated building. We deserve to learn in good conditions like any other child. Our dream has become a reality with the new school rehabilitated by ICI; it has a different face. We, children of this school, are now proud to be students of the EPP Bacanda PK10. ”

Joha Braimah
Ghana Country Director,
Free The Slaves

“Free the Slaves has been one of the Founding Board Members of ICI, and we are a proud of our collaboration so far. We believe that ICI’s role is crucial, as it unites a variety of actors around the common goal of child protection in the cocoa sector. Importantly, in 2018, ICI started innovating, and forced labour was identified as an issue which needs a deeper look, an enhanced understanding and action. Many children and their families lead a better life thanks to ICI’s efforts, and we hope that by addressing forced labour, ICI will also help others tackle forced labour risks in the cocoa supply chain.”

Richard Acheampong
Member of Parliament for the Bia East constituency

“I am one of the senior members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, State Enterprises and Social Welfare. We are grateful to ICI for taking us through the training on child labour concepts. It is good to understand child labour issues as parliamentarians. I am now aware of the fact that we need to do more in the creation of awareness on this issue as a country. The training has helped me to see the disconnect between the Constitution of Ghana and the Children’s Act. I have now understood concepts like child work and how to really define who can be classified as a child. This knowledge will not only help us become better lawmakers, but it will also help us in our role as opinion leaders in our constituencies.”

Jeff King
Senior Director Global Sustainability
and Social Impact, The Hershey Company

“ICI continues to provide leadership, knowledge and expertise, helping us to build a better future for children and families in cocoa-growing communities. Hershey’s, working with our suppliers, has been partnering with ICI to implement programmes that help ensure children have the chance to learn, grow and develop.”

Members and Contributing Partners

Current ICI Board members, Contributing Partners & other donors  

The ICI board is comprised of board members from both industry and civil society, who preside over the foundation’s governance, accountability and strategic direction. Corporate and non-profit Contributing Partners generously fund ICI’s work.