I have always been a fan of creative ideas particularly ones that make money and can also help people. My friend recently told me about a company called Madecasse which makes chocolate and vanilla products. What is interesting is where they make them and how the money helps the country they are making the products in.
They are implementing something called Equitrade which is the concept to end poverty through sustainable commercial international trade. Madecasse has implemented this in Madagascar.
Madagascar is where a lot of cocoa and vanilla used in products around the world come from but also happens to be one of the worlds ten poorest countries. Although they export some of the finest cocoa and vanilla in the world, they don’t make the products in Madagascar. What Madecasse has done is taken the natural resources in Madagascar and instead of exporting them around the world for people to make the product elsewhere, Madecasse is making the product in Madagascar and then shipping the product to the rest of the world. The majority of the money made is in actually making the product and selling it to retailers. Take an agriculturally based country and by using their resources to make the product at home, it would capture another 60% of the profits. Thus, create jobs and provide more capital for areas in need such as education. Brilliant.
I was in Brooklyn today and walked into the Chocolate Room. A wonderful chocolate store where you can buy chocolates, have a coffee and a piece of fantastic chocolate cake, or anything chocolate. They had the chocolate bars from Maddecasse and their vanilla products too. I bought a few items. The chocolate bar is delicious. Also, the woman in the store was so into the company. She brought out a pamphlet and showed me how the product is giving back.
The giving back thing is great but also that this company plans on growing and being profitable is even greater. My frustration with the non-for-profit world is that there isn’t a bottom line. To be able to create a business model where the entrepreneurs are able to grow a company, put money in their own pocket and at the same time make an impact on a poor country by perhaps putting a certain % into education or to just create jobs and a new economy somewhere is a fantastic and intriguing business model.
Here in the UK (near Cambridge) we have a medium sized company – Hotel Chocolat that is also trying an ethical approach to chocolate http://tinyurl.com/3tp6o9
There is an interesting book “The Chocolate Conscience” which looked into the history of the original chocolate manufacturers, here in the UK, who were Quakers eg Cadbury, Rowntree, Fry.