A chocolate factory with a higher purpose
Thursday, November 6, 2014
The face of Tanzanian farmer Mama Kyeja smiles up from the wrappers of the chocolate bars at Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, Mo. The connection between the cacao bean farmer 8,000 miles away and the company is based on good chocolate and good business.
When Shawn Askinosie left a successful law career and founded his bean-to-bar chocolate company in 2006, he set out to make a prize-winning product while helping developing-world farmers and their communities. Today he practices direct trade, meeting face-to-face with farmers to buy their cacao beans at above fair trade prices. And he returns each year to share 10 percent of his profits as well.
“We literally open the books to the farmers, and they see all the expenses and profits,” Mr. Askinosie says. During his payday visits, equal parts celebration and business, Askinosie inspects the new cacao bean crop and discusses any problems with drying and fermenting that might affect the beans’ flavor. He brings chocolate bars packed in dry ice so that the farmers can sample them.
- social business