That Haitian Chocolate Though!
by CHES Inc
VIEW THE PRETTY VERSION HERE.
We at CHES are proud to say that sales of products that we source from Haitian companies are a significant source of funding for the programming we offer entrepreneurs in rural Haiti. We are so happy to support Haitian companies that believe in benefiting society through creating employment and benefiting multiple stakeholders – Haitian companies that offer high quality products produced in Haiti. CHES loves marketing these products as it gives us a chance to share another side of Haiti with our supporters. These products help our supporters to experience Haiti positively and we hope to help them develop a better perception of the country. Having said this, we at CHES are extremely happy to announce that we are now offering 100% natural gourmet chocolates from Haiti from Les Chocolateries Askanya. We had the opportunity to visit their factory in Quanaminthe, Haiti. It was an inspiring experience. We are pleased to add this product to our exciting mix of Haitian products. Below, we were able to catch up with one of the founders of Askanya. See what Corinne Joachim-Sanon has to tell us about herself and the gourmet chocolate startup.
Tell us about you: What’s your background? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in a loving family that valued a work well done, sharing their knowledge and giving back to society. From 1st to 13th grade, I attended the Institution du Sacré-Cœur in Turgeau.
I became aware of the general poverty, unemployment, and underemployment surrounding me early on. This bothered me enough and sparked in me the desire to make a difference in the world around me as an entrepreneur and as a philanthropist.
In my journey to become an entrepreneur/philanthropist, I’ve obtained an Industrial Engineering degree (University of Michigan) and a Masters in Business Administration (University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School), which have equipped me with the knowledge to operate and lead businesses. My studies combined with my rich professional experiences have provided me with diverse skills, which I consider the pieces of my career puzzle that prepared me to realize my entrepreneurial dreams.
Why did you decide to start Les Chocolateries Askanya in Haiti? How did it get started?
One of my dreams has been to create enterprises that provide substantial employment in Haiti. Last November 2014, I found out that Haitian cacao was highly rated in the international market. Realizing this, I along with my partners in this adventure, Andreas and Alexandra, decided to produce delicious and high quality chocolates in Haiti, made only with Haitian cacao. We wanted a product that Haitians, whether in our ten Departments or in the Diaspora, could enjoy and be proud of.
We also wished for every chocolate connoisseur and lover worldwide to savor and fall in love with our delicious chocolate treats – “Grown in Haiti, Made in Haiti, Enjoyed Everywhere”
To get started, we visited cacao farms and met with farmers, members of the Fédération des Coopératives Cacaoyères du Nord (FECANNO). These cacao farmers, originally trained by volunteers from Agronomist and Veterinary without Borders, shared with us their procedures in harvesting, fermenting and drying cacao – this know how is very important to extract the ultimate flavor of the cacao beans. The farmers became our cacao suppliers.
In addition, we consulted with world-class chocolatiers from France and the USA who meticulously trained our newly established team in the bean-to-bar chocolate making processes.
Furthermore, Alexandra actively converted my grandparents’ house located in Ouanaminthe into a colorful chocolate factory. She got the production started, while Andreas and I were still using our day jobs to finance this endeavor. We also worked together on the marketing strategy, the product packaging and the sales strategy.
Finally, we named our company after Andreas’ German hometown “Aschersleben”. In its Latinized form “Ascania,” it connects to the ancient figure Ascanius. Just as Ascanius became the legendary King in Roman mythology, we are sure Askanya will become the Queen of chocolate in her new Caribbean home.
Five month after the start of this journey – our chocolates were available for Mother’s Day on the shelves of major supermarkets, hotel boutiques and specialty food stores in Port-au-Prince. Our delicious chocolates, Grown in Haiti, Made in Haiti, and Enjoyed Everywhere are now available in more than 20 points of sale in Port-au-Prince, Pétion-Ville, Tabarre, Laboule, Cap Haitian, Brooklyn, New York City and Boston.
What advice would you give to a potential entrepreneur in Haiti?
1. Be Resilient and Patient:
There’s this Haitian Creole saying “Ak pasyans ou ap jwenn trip foumi – literally: “With patience, you will find the gut of an ant” – and I often feel like doing business successfully in Haiti is a pure test of one’s capacity to consistently surmount adversity on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis.
Success is not going to happen in a day, a week, or a month. Plan for the long haul. And be prepared for the worse: something, somehow and somewhere, will go wrong: you will need to keep finding creative solutions and keep at it until you make it.
2. Surround yourself with an A-Team:
If there’s a place where my team and I at Les Chocolateries Askanya did not take shortcut is in the selection of our collaborators. We worked with an awesome Port-au-Prince based HR Consulting firm (DcV Consulting) to help us acquire the best local talent. You need the most qualified and talented individuals to make a company, any company, successful.
3. Provide a great product:
Best in Class is the New Standard. The product or service you are planning to offer needs to be best in class and pass the international standards. Haitians, whatever their income level, want products and/or services that are good for them and their family. You should aim for your products and/or services to be available on iTunes or on the shelves of Carrefour, WholeFoods or La Sirena.
4. Make the numbers work:
There’s no point in offering a product/service that brings in $100 but cost $1000. Your venture must be profitable or bring cash soon, or it’s time to look for something else. The bills will not wait – trust me!
If you are interested in purchasing chocolates, contact us to get your hands on some bars!
Below are some supporter reviews:
“The Haitian chocolate is delicious and I love my chocolate dark (Dutch taste). Thank you!”
– Maria S.
“Oh my god, this is from Haiti? This is SO GOOD!”
– Frantz C.
“The chocolates were EXCELLENT. The dark chocolate was simply amazing! I need another fix!”
– Ken P.
“Love the chocolates! Not your typical dark and milk chocolate. The milk chocolate is SO rich and delicious 🙂”
– Debra L.
Visit our Products page to learn more about the exciting products we offer.
April 01, 2017
November 13, 2016