Selassie Atadika – Ghana
African inspired, handcrafted, chef created and 100 percent made in Ghana chocolates, are what Selassie Atadika’s Midunu Chocolates offer its customers. Midunu chocolates are Atadika’s interpretation of the beautiful patchwork that is Africa’s culinary heritage; the reason for having established her company.
After over a decade of travelling across Africa working for the United Nations, Chef Atadika realised food was one of the things that brought people together, so she established Midunu(Come let’s eat) a culinary lifestyle company in 2014. Her chocolates and truffles are “subtle infusions of continental bounty; teas, tisanes, and complex spice blends,” she explains on her platform.
For Atadika who comes from a multi-generational lineage of entrepreneurs, being a business owner has always been ingrained in her, “It’s in my blood,” she says. Atadika works with a small team of young women she describes as diligent, attentive and curious about life.
As a chocolatier, what gives her the most satisfaction is improving the value of local ingredients, elevating forgotten foods, telling the stories of culinary custodians who keep the African heritage alive through preserving and sharing the delectable cuisine of the continent.
Chiinga and Lynn Musonda Phiri – Zambia
Sisters, Chiinga Musonda and Lynn Musonda Phiri, are the founders of Savanna Chocolates, a premium bean-to-bar chocolate company in Lusaka Zambia with a mission to create African luxury artisan chocolates for a global market. The business was born out of the sisters’ love for chocolates and seeing the delight on the faces of family and friends whenever they were gifted chocolates.
Seeing how scarce African made chocolates were in Zambia and the rest of the continent in the midst of abundant cocoa also served as motivation for creating their business. “We want to change the narrative that premium chocolates are only made in western countries,” reads the story on their platform.
Savanna chocolates are handcrafted from carefully selected single origin cocoa beans to preserve the flavours of the country of origin and are made without preservatives, artificial colouring and flavours. The company also trades directly with cocoa farmers, cutting out middlemen, to improve their income.
For Chiinga and Lynn Musonda, being able to make a difference in the lives of their employees, great customer reviews and the unwavering support of the Zambian community gives them the most satisfaction as entrepreneurs. The company’s goal is to create African luxury artisan chocolates within and beyond the continent.
Nathalie Gambah Kpante – Togo
In a country historically known to export 100 percent of its cocoa, one company is making a change by not only producing, processing and marketing cocoa beans but also making handmade chocolates. Founded by Nathalie Gambah Kpante, Chocotogo is the first cocoa bean processing company in Togo. The need to break over a hundred years of 100 percent cocoa exportation and extend the value chain led Kpante to set up her company that is more of a social enterprise in southwestern Togo.
“Chocotogo looks to extend the value chain by producing Togolese chocolates made with local ingredients. We help cocoa farmers to discover that they are producing a highly valuable crop and that they should keep the quality higher. Many cocoa farmers don’t know anything about chocolate and how it is made, so we enlighten them about the importance of the cocoa beans they are producing,” she said in an interview.
The company improves the livelihood of local households by employing the women, and the remuneration for planters owing to the reduction of the cost of transportation due to the proximity of the manufacturing unit. The company has two traditional factories for making its organic chocolate. One in Kpalimé, a city located in the southwestern part of Togo, specializes in the extraction of chocolate paste. And another in Lome, the country’s capital, specializes in the processing of making cocoa paste into chocolate and also serves as storage and packaging unit.
Chocotogo also engages in community development project called Chocoland, that is focused on contributing to the development of a community of cocoa farmers in Danyigan, a village in southwest Togo. Chocoland will see the establishment of a health centre to fight against maternal and infant mortality with the support of mutual savings and microcredit to assist farmers. The project also intends to promote the cultivation of cocoa Amelonado, a variety of endangered natural cocoa, through new techniques and expansion of arable land. Kpante says her most satisfaction as an entrepreneur comes from being able to create wealth for many families and solving problems in her community.
Dana Mroueh – Côte d’Ivoire
29-year-old Dana Mroueh is an artisan chocolatier in Abidjan, the heart of Cote d’Ivoire and the owner of Mon Choco. Her company, or workshop, as she likes to call it, makes chocolates from organic Ivorian cocoa beans. Her chocolates are made in its purest form, only with brown sugar and without milk, to preserve the taste and the natural nutrient of the cocoa beans.
As an advocate for a responsible and sustainable environment, Mroueh sticks to crushing cocoa beans using a stationary bicycle with a grinder attached to its wheels. She also uses recycled paper in packaging her chocolates, reuses her cocoa shelves and trades directly with cocoa farmers.
Despite being the world’s leading producer and exporter of cocoa, there were only a handful of indigenous Ivorian chocolatiers and chocolates made in Côte d’Ivoire. But things are beginning to change with the likes of Mroueh. Mroueh’s love for chocolate and zeal for entrepreneurship stems from her grandfather who worked in the cocoa industry and owned a pastry shop. A man she describes as an outstanding entrepreneur.
Kimberly and Priscilla Addison – Ghana
Kimberly and Priscilla Addison are the owners of 57, Ghana’s pioneer bean to bar chocolate business. Their company uses cocoa and other natural resources grown in Ghana to create delicious, luxurious handmade chocolates and confections. The name, 57, is short for 1957, the year of Ghana’s Independence. And as explained on their website, it hones in on the “can-do” spirit of Ghanaians in that revolutionary year. “It is a call to action and a reminder that sometimes in order to go forward, we need to look back at our foundation, our roots,” the sisters told the Lionesses of Africa.
More than anything, the brand challenges the status quo that premium chocolate can only be made in Western countries; this was the motivation behind venturing into the business. Having spent years in Geneva, Switzerland, the duo thought it strange that despite not growing cocoa, Switzerland is known for its chocolate. But Ghana being one of the largest producer and exporter of cocoa produced little to no chocolates.
“We saw a vast need for manufacturing chocolate in Ghana and across the continent of Africa and were determined to use Ghanaian cocoa to create a high-quality African chocolate brand that is reputable locally, internationally, and can compete on the world market,” they said. 57 chocolates are designed and packaged to reflect Ghanaian art and culture as they are engraved with Adinkra symbols. Each symbol having a unique meaning.
The pair currently works with a staff of seven people, mostly young women, but aspire to grow and expand as the business itself grows. In 2016, the sisters were awarded the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program for Manufacturing, something they consider quite humbling. “Our experience with the program has been a great opportunity. It provided us with an incredible amount of insight in business and linked us with entrepreneurs across Africa,” Kimberly and Priscilla told African Vibes.
Femi Oyedipe – Nigeria
Femi Oyedipe, the founder of LoshesChocolate, developed an affection for chocolates when she moved to Ghana from Scotland after her Master’s programme. Whilst in the gold coast, Oyedipe turned her hobby, making chocolate dessert cakes and confectioneries, into a side hustle. She moved back to Nigeria in 2014 to explore a career route as a human resource personnel, but after two and a half years realised that it was not fulfilling. Hence she decided to start a business of her own.
Through research, Oyedipe learned that Nigeria had no indigenous chocolatiers like Ghana. Nigeria grows cocoa but most of it is exported and chocolates are imported. This realisation led her and her husband to conduct more research and subsequently begin sourcing for cocoa beans. Read more about Femi Oyedipe.