Madécasse is a Brooklyn-based chocolate and vanilla company established in 2006 by two Peace Corps volunteers who served in Madagascar. The company sells a range of chocolate bars and vanilla products, all sourced from the island of Madagascar. All of the cocoa is certified Direct Trade and is sourced directly from Malagasy cocoa farmers. For several years, Madécasse worked with a local chocolate producer based in Antananarivo, and is currently producing chocolate in Europe while working to move production back to Madagascar.
|Founder||Tim McCollum, Brett Beach|
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 Malagasy-born 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 Madagascar.
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 company has achieved recognition for its innovative business model, local impact, and the chocolate itself. Madécasse has been named:
- 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" Archived 2012-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, Take Part March 1, 2011
- "Creating Change through Chocolate" Archived 2012-11-30 at the Wayback Machine PCC Natural Markets
- "Fair Trade Vanilla: Anything but Plain" Good Business 31 May 2011
- "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" Archived 2011-12-04 at the Wayback Machine Seedling Projects