The top ten Countries producing cocoa in the world are located in West Africa and South America; Ghana and Ivory Coast produce alone the 60% of the worldwide cocoa.
Although Tanzania cannot be listed among the major producers of this raw material, I would like to write the inspiring story of Jaki Kweka, young co-founder of Chocolate Mamas – Gourmet Tanzania Chocolate Ltd.,which produces hand-made chocolate totally made in Tanzania.
I have read some articles and watched some video interviews of her and thus discovered that she was an attorney, who used to make desserts as a side hobby in her spare time.
One evening she was chatting with a girlfriend – who has become her business partner – about her dream of making a professional change by starting a full-time patisserie. While discussing the pros and cons of such a business, she realized there was a great obstacle hindering its implementation: the lack of high quality locally produced chocolate.
Here it came the inspiration.
Jaki decided to leave her career as an advocate to commit herself to the creation of a business, producing the first Tanzanian handmade high quality chocolate. It was 2011, by then.
What are the main keys to success embraced by Chocolate Mamas in these years?
- The capacity of filling a market gap, by differentiating themselves from the existing competitors. Jaki has practically kicked off the first production of chocolate in Tanzania. All products available on the shops shelves up to that moment were industrial and imported. And to position herself in a different market segment, her chocolate is locally and hand-made produced.
- The identification of their own market niche (tourists, expats, middle-high Tanzanian class), leveraging on two main trends: the growing interest for high quality handmade products and the growing appeal for locally-made products.
- The creation of a product one hundred per cent made in Tanzania: all the ingredients used are locally sourced; not only the cocoa beans, but also the sugar, the milk and the spices (from hot pepper to cinnamon, from orange to coffee).
- A high quality packaging and branding, aiming to value the handmade product inside: the choice of using a wrapping paper made out of corn husk (also locally purchased by a ngo working with people with disabilities) has been an excellent option, perfectly in line with the product itself.
- A progressive growth: Jaki has waited nine months before selling her first products. All these months she has been studying, trying, experimenting recipes to arrive to high standards of quality for her customers. She started selling at local fairs and markets and slowly expanded to Tanzanian supermarkets. Currently she also has three outlets (in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Arusha). Her future plans are to expand in East Africa first and then abroad.
Jaki’s story is one good example of a fair and ethic small enterprise, bringing an absolute positive impact in this Country.