Investing in African Cocoa

By: Saira Malhotra

Amidst obscurity and struggle, yet another company has seen great worth and possibility in Africa, this time, it's Madagascar. The island is situated on the South East coast of Africa and is an exporter of primary products, such as minerals, lychees, and shrimp. In Africa, there is a growing shift in attitude among companies to take their respective industries to the next level. For Pepsico, it meant investing in infrastructure and better seeds to grow chickpeas on a large scale. For Edun, clothing, it meant using African textiles to create an edgy fashion line made in Africa. But what did it mean for Peace Corp volunteer, Tim McCollum?

Tim McCollum, recognized that Africa sources 60% of the world's chocolate.  Finding a stash of rare premium cocoa, growing in Madagascar, he decided to harvest it. In a country where the odds weren't with him, he was committed to making Madagascar more than an exporter of yet another raw material, but an exporter of the final product 'chocolate'.

The journey wasn't simple, and he was certainly treading off the beaten track, but his goal was clear and the game he was playing 'unreasonable'. If there was a river and the absence of a bridge, transporting the cocoa would be challenging. But tricky situations call for creative thinking and that is when his team thought of using a canoe. Mr. McCollum is by no means disillusioned, but he has also learnt that '"It just takes a little more time and a little more thought, but there's no reason it can't be done."

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Photo: Mark Eichmann