|Founders||Tim McCollum, Brett Beach|
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
Madécasse Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based chocolate manufacturer established in 2006 by two Peace Corps volunteers who served in Madagascar. The company produces a range of chocolate bars and vanilla products, all of which are grown, made and packaged on the island of Madagascar. Since several years, Madécasse sub-contracts their chocolate production to Cinagra, a local chocolate producer based in Antananarivo. Madécasse has achieved much recognition for being a pioneer of social change and claims to make four times the economic impact of fair trade practices alone.
Founders Brett Beach and Tim McCollum met while serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Madagascar. After spending a combined eight years on the island, McCollum and Beach felt that they wanted to have more of an impact and that “business was needed for real (social and environmental) change.” Cocoa had always been a major export of Madagascar but very little chocolate had been produced on the island, much like in the rest of Africa. Even though the continent grows over 65% of the world's cocoa, less than 1% of the world’s chocolate is made there. The two were determined to have a significant impact on the island they had come to love, and formulated an innovative business model for a chocolate business. They would produce chocolate on the island, and the majority of the economic benefit would stay within the country. The two reunited back in the United States and started the company at Beach’s residence in Lawrence, Kansas.
Madécasse partnered with the cocoa farmers of the Ezaka Cooperative, from a remote area of Madagascar. The company initially had trouble meeting the quality standards of the United States, as the cocoa beans needed more fermentation and drying. McCollum said, “You have farmers farming cocoa who have never eaten chocolate.” Madécasse trained the farmers, invested in equipment, and developed a bonus program for the cooperative. Since the company established a consistent process for producing high quality cocoa, it has achieved critical acclaim for its chocolates. Madécasse partnered with a factory on the island that has steadily increased their production outcome, according to Michaël Chauveau, director of operations in Madagascar. As Madécasse expanded, it ventured out and partnered with more farming cooperatives in order to meet demand.
There was room for growth in other markets besides chocolate, as Madagascar provided 60% of the world’s vanilla beans. Madécasse exports vanilla beans and extract from Madagascar to replicate the effect that they have with their chocolate bars in the vanilla sector. Now, Madécasse has offices in Brooklyn, managed by McCollum, and San Francisco, managed by Beach. The company has gone from simply producing dark chocolate to experimenting with new flavors, such as Arabica Coffee and Sea Salt & Nibs.
Investment and Strategic Management
In late 2009, Madécasse approached Prosperity Equity Partners, LLC, an investment and advisory firm focused on SME investments in sub-Saharan Africa, for financing and strategic guidance.
Prosperity Equity CEO John Ferry first joined Madécasse as lead investor and advisor, and since early 2010 as head of Madécasse cocoa operations in Madagascar. As CEO of Madécasse, he oversaw fund-raising and business development for Madécasse.
Prosperity Equity Partners, LLC is the majority equity shareholder of Madécasse.
Cocoa Company of Madagascar (COCOMA)
Prosperity Equity Partners, LLC of Madagascar has an inspiring story to tell about fine chocolate making in Africa. Although 65% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, less than 1% of chocolate is made on the continent. Capitalizing on the excellence of Madagascar’s distinctive genetic cacao varietal and ideal growing conditions, COCOMA Sarl (Cocoa Company of Madagascar) works with farmer partners in northern Madagascar to harvest the world's best premium quality cocoa which is produced as finished chocolate under the Madécasse brand.
The cacao beans are organically grown by forest-farm co-operatives who are committed to sustainable farming so as to protect the country’s rare biodiversity. Farmer’s benefit from training, equipment, social programs and a stable market that ensures that they earn above fair trade prices for their cacao. Prosperity Equity Partners, LLC, through COCOMA, is re-defining the cocoa landscape in Madagascar as the world's premium producer of superior quality cocoa and model of farmer prosperity and what can be done in Africa.
Objectives and Impact
- Strengthen the local economy
- Create well-paying jobs and market stability to end the cycle of poverty
- Cut the supply chain to decrease costs while increasing flow of income directly to farmers
- Train farmers and production technicians skills that increase quality and value of products and ingredients
The products, as listed on the Madécasse website, are as follows.
- 70% Dark Chocolate
- 75% Dark Chocolate
- 80% Dark Chocolate
- Arabica Coffee
- Cinnamon & Sakay
- Sea Salt & Nibs
- Pink Pepper & Citrus
- Exotic Pepper
- Milk Chocolate
- Toasted Coconut
- Bourbon Vanilla Beans
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 oz.
- 4 oz.
- 8 oz.
The company has achieved much recognition for its innovative business model, local impact, and the chocolate itself. Madécasse has been named:
- a 2012 Leader of Global Change by the United Nations and Foundation for Social Change
- one of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company
- to 40 Under 40 list of people “changing the way Americans eat and drink…” by Food & Wine
- Gold at the 2011 San Francisco Chocolate Salon
- Best in Show at the 2009 New York Chocolate Show
- Best in Show at the 2011 Paris Salon du Chocolat
- 2012 Good Food Award Chocolate Winner
It is currently in the process of being certified fair trade by Fair for Life.
- Dugan, Owen "Made in Madagascar", Wine Spectator, Los Angeles, 31 May 2010.
- Watkins, Tate "Cuckoo for Cocoa Processing: Making Chocolate—Not Just Picking It—Helps Madagascar Develop", Good Business 7 February 2012.
- Follmer, Max "Madecasse Takes Bitter out of Chocolate Sweetness", Take Part March 1, 2011
- "Creating Change through Chocolate" PCC Natural Markets
- "Fair Trade Vanilla: Anything but Plain" Good Business 31 May 2011
- "Prosperity Equity Partners, LLC"
- "Madagascar's luxury chocolate thieves strike fear into farmers"
- "COCOMA Sarl (COcoa COmpany of MAdagascar)"
- "2012 Global Conference for Social Change list of speakers" Foundation for Social Change
- "50 Most Innovative Companies – Madecasse" Fast Company March 2011
- Wheelock, Katherine "40 Big Thinkers 40 & Under", Food & Wine, November 2010.
- "2011 Good Food Awards Chocolate Winner" Seedling Projects