Currently, Africa supplies 70% of the world’s cocoa, but just 1% of its chocolate. Through his company Madécasse, Tim McCollum is shifting Madagascar’s economy from being simply another raw resource provider to one that creates a premium good.
“When people say that Africa makes great chocolate the way people now assume that Belgium or Switzerland makes the best chocolate, then we’ll have accomplished something big.”
Tim McCollum considers himself first and foremost, “a social entrepreneur — using business methods to solve social problems.” He founded Madécasse along with former fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Brett Beach to give cocoa workers a better deal than just fair trade. By transforming the harvested raw materials into a finished product before they ship out of Madagascar, Madécasse can radically increase worker paychecks and impact the local economy with added job stability. Their employees currently earn four times more income than fair trade alone can offer and remains the only added-value cocoa company in all of Africa.
Tim engages the Madagascar community at every stage of the process. From purchasing local ingredients and processing the cocoa into chocolate, to wrapping and shipping the final product locally, Madagascans capture more of the profit from production. The finished product has won awards and fans from a wide spectrum of notable publications and industry vets.
Madécasse is also committed to natural farming methods free of pesticides and herbicides. Tim works with the growers to cultivate the unique varieties of cocoa, vanilla, and peppercorns found only on this island country. (Eighty-five percent of Madagascar fauna and flora is found nowhere else in the world.) The result is increased biodiversity and the conservation of the native species of hardwoods, birds, and animals — critical to preserving the land for future generations. In continuing to grow his business, Tim hopes to find “the right type of capital that allows us to grow the brand sustainably.” In doing so, he will be strengthening the local economy with business methods that are thoughtful and achievable.