Social entrepreneurship means using innovative business practices to create sustainable solutions to pressing social problems.
CocoáFair is founded on a deep commitment to this concept of business for the greater good. We approach chocolate-making as both an art form and a mechanism for positive social change. Specifically, we hope to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable, innovative business practices in the chocolate industry and beyond.
BUSINESS FOR THE GREATER GOOD
We constantly seek opportunities to apply principles of social entrepreneurship in virtually all aspects of our business, from where we buy our beans to how we treat our employees. The three major categories where we aim to incorporate socially responsible practices are People, the Planet, and our chocolate-making Process:
PEOPLE: We believe in value for many, which is why we offer premium products at extremely affordable prices. We also consider the effects of our purchasing decisions on the farmers at the other end of the exchange. Supporting long-term partnerships with farmers leads to economic stability for their families, which in turn improves access to education by allowing children to stay in school instead of work, leads to increased food stability and nutrition as a result of providing stable incomes, and creates opportunities for farmers to invest in equipment and other resources that help their businesses grow.
PLANET: Organic products are grown without the use of harmful chemicals, thus protecting farmworker, consumers, and the environment from destructive toxins. Sustainable cacao farming practices help protect biodiversity and support reforestation. In addition to using organic cacao, we are working to find innovative ways of repurposing our waste products.
PROCESS: By controlling the entire manufacturing process from bean to bar, we ensure that everything we make lives up to our standards for excellence. We are truly passionate about the art form that is fine chocolate making. We’re also deeply committed to creating value for many; this includes supporting innovative projects in the local community, providing affordable gourmet chocolates to our customers, and supporting ethical cacao farming practices which benefit farmers and the planet.
We are also committed to starting new social programs that benefit our local community. Our goal is to start at least one major social program per year and to support a variety of smaller projects along the way.
CHILDREN’S RECYCLED TUBE ART PROJECT
One of our first projects is the Children’s Recycled Tube Art Project. We noticed that an adjacent factory was throwing away a large amount of thick cardboard tubes, so CocoáFair cofounder Thor Thoroe came up with the idea to repurpose them into packaging for chocolates by having local school children decorate the tubes as an art project. CocoáFair will sell the painted tubes and then donate the profits back to the schools to. We will provide supplies (such as non-toxic paints and brushes) along with the tubes and the kids will provide the creativity! Our pilot test of the program was a success and we’re currently seeking an art supplier to partner with to make this project a sustainable program over the long term in hopes that we can expand to multiple schools.
TRAINING & JOB SKILL DEVELOPMENT
CocoáFair is lucky to have a head chocolatier (Antonio Allegra) who is capable of producing some of the finest chocolate in the world. Lucky for the rest of us, he also believes in sharing his passion with others.
Beyond bringing superior chocolate products to the global market, his vision for the future of CocoaFair includes exposing others to the world of chocolate making and training new chocolatiers in the art of small batch, hand crafted chocolates.
This includes offering a variety of educational chocolate-related courses for the casual chocolate-lover and taking on a handful of professional apprentices. Staff members receive highly specialized training that will enable them to pursue a career in the chocolate industry. While most members of the CocoáFair team have years of culinary training before they even set foot on the factory floor, professional training isn’t the only criteria. After all, the artisan chocolate-making industry in Africa is both relatively young and extremely small, meaning there is a need to help train new chocolatiers who can help expand the continent’s chocolate frontier.
Because social entrepreneurship is at the core of our business, we’ve sought out ways to apply this concept to our employment practices from the very beginning. Fortunately we didn’t have to look for our first opportunity--she came to us.
When CocoáFair was preparing to open, a single mother from a nearby township whose primary work experience involved domestic cleaning approached Nino. Her dream had always been to own her own chocolate shop, and she was desperately hoping to get the experience she needed in order to make that dream a reality.
Despite her lack of experience, her determination convinced Nino to give her a chance. Now, not only has she mastered many specialized skills and become a core team member in the factory, but we are working with her to develop business and marketing skills that will enable her to sell her own chocolates in her community. (This ties into another one of CocoáFair’s future social projects, which is to use innovative methods, minimal packaging, and novel distribution methods to make an extremely affordable line of organic chocolates available in local townships--stay tuned for more info on this project in the coming months!)
We plan to use this model of job skill development as one more channel through which we can apply principles of social entrepreneurship.