Cocoa Chocolatier works to advance SDG´s 3, 4, and 12: it is unique in its industry in promoting the well-being of the Ecuadorian society by creating healthy and signature artisan chocolates . Their goal is clear: help build a more sustainable society not only by providing healthy, new and creative varieties of chocolates but also, by taking care of those in need, always using production processes and ingredients that do not harm the environment.
Nicolle Marsell Pino
Universidad de Navarra
Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo
The founder of Cocoa Chocolatier, María de García Hernández, has been a revolutionary woman in the chocolate market, a market that usually encompasses negative connotations in terms of health. All the ingredients she uses in her products are completely organic, with no preservatives, chemicals, additives, food coloring, or added sugars. She explains that from the first moment, she wanted to offer society a new way of consuming and understanding chocolate, "I want the healthiest for my clients, as if it were about eating a cocoa fruit". In addition, her business helps boost the local economy, as they use pure cocoa from the region and fresh pulp juices and aromatic herbs that she gets from the small private farmers that don't use any chemicals in their crops.
Ms. de Garcia Hernandez proudly explains that Cocoa Chocolatier is the only chocolate shop in Quito with a social mission. For this reason, she defines her business with these three words, "health, pleasure and love". Love for the environment and for the people, the company uses materials and production processes that are sustainable and that protect the environment. They go hand in hand with the trend by not using any plastics, only recycled paper or cardboard. In addition, Ms. de Garcia Hernandez has designed beautiful packaging with the aim of being reused by the client themselves in future purchases or at home. Ms. de Garcia Hernandez has always been concerned about the future and education of the youth, therefore, she began offering courses and workshops where children can learn by playing, enjoying and by creating. Classes also include "neglected" elderly. In the program, the elderly practice their memory,motor skills, and creativity. The participants also have the opportunity to interact with other people, making them increase their self-esteem.
Furthermore, innovation is what makes them unique. She started by making new and creative varieties: ginger chocolates, ajil chocolates, pepper chocolates and lemon verbena in their chocolates. Ms. de Garcia Hernandez explains about the new varieties, "people were surprised and grateful for the new flavors".
Hernandez’s inspiration started when she moved back from Venezuela to Ecuador and noticed that the market didn't possess an artisan chocolate company. Venezuela was a country that the owner describes as one of her ''happy places'' and the chocolate company reminded her of that, so she wanted to take this ''piece of joy'' back to her home in Ecuador.
She wanted to use the primary natural resources that the country offered so she began taking courses in Mexico, Belgium and some other countries to learn about the creation of artisan chocolates. The owner commented that she turned her passion into her profession and she has been in the market for 15 years.
In the beginning, she wanted to change Ecuadorian society's perception about chocolate since her product didn't include saturated fats or added sugars, it was pure chocolate produced from the cocoa bean of Ecuador. This mission of Cocoa Chocolatier is to build a company where the stakeholders enjoy of the quality of the product and relate the concept into love, fun and health.
Ms. de Garcia Hernandez has been constantly innovating her business and striving to create an impact. Her purpose was to include everyone in her company since chocolate doesn't have ''an age'' either for consuming nor creating it. She also wanted to also provide jobs for the most vulnerable in our society, and has also hired disabled employees. The message she wants to transmit is that giving a box of chocolate is like giving a bouquet of flowers which represents love and details.
In terms of impact on the environment, Cocoa Chocolatier uses boxes made out of cardboard and bags made out of paper. The company promotes the idea of recycling and sustainability in her chocolate classes,the use of the same materials for all of the activities and also makes people aware of recycling by giving them paper bags with their chocolates.
There have been several challenges that the company has faced. The organizational structure of the company is a sole-owner so the production cannot be massively made. However, with her perseverance and passion of the company her results have been demonstrated successfully in which there is constantly a demand of the products.
Cocoa Chocolatier is a firm that combines environmental friendly and healthy production of chocolate, with the impartation of classes to kids and elderly citizens. This means that the benefits of the company are composed by the income generated by two different activities, which vary depending on the time of the year. In Christmas and Easter, when the consumption of chocolate rises , 80% of the profit of the company comes from the actual selling of the chocolate whereas only 20% comes from the clases.
During the rest of the year the consumption of chocolate declines, reaching more or less a 60% of profits by the sale of the product and 40% by the classes offered. Despite this irregular share of profits depending on the activities, Cocoa Chocolatier has been growing yearly mainly due to the rise of demand thanks to word of mouth recommendations of their products and services.
Ms. de Garcia Hernandez's idea giving back to society is in the form of responsibility, detail, and knowledge. Through her workshops and her business, the founder of Cocoa Chocolatier would like all generations, particularly the younger ones, to focus on combining positive values and sustainability. The true social impact of Cocoa Chocolatier is imparting love and caring through attention to detail and personalized customer service. She enjoys being there for her clients, participating and supervising every step of the process. She would like her clients to enjoy the experience just as much as she does. At the same time, she wants to keep her business sustainable, giving back to the environment and helping those that live from in a responsible way.
When talking about benefit, she told us that although she " would love to sell big boxes filled with tons of chocolate. But it was about the intention behind gifting chocolate. It was a divine detail". It is really about giving back to society and the environment in the little, caring details.
María de García Hernández, Owner and founder
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Quito, Ecuador, EC
Business Website: https://www.facebook.com/cocoachocolatier/
Year Founded: 2005
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Cocoa Chocolatier promotes the wellbeing of the Ecuadorian society by creating healthy and signature artisan chocolates while contributing to educating and enhancing the most vulnerable in society.