Young Entrepreneurs Awards: Emily Stone, 31
Initiative: Uncommon Cacao
Region of impact: Central America
Based in Guatemala, Uncommon Cacao works directly with cacao farmers to deliver premium-quality and transparently sourced cacao to the speciality chocolate market. Cacao is a bean-like seed from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted; they are the ingredients for making chocolate.
90% of the world’s cacao is produced by 5 million smallholder farmers who live on less than $2 per day. While the global chocolate industry and the demand for cacao is growing, farmer incomes are not and supply is declining. Cacao farmers lack resources and are locked into a cycle of poverty.
Founded in 2010 by Emily Stone, Uncommon Cacao is building the first end-to-end specialty cacao supply chain, from producing and processing to manufacturing. By working directly with cacao farmers Uncommon Cacao delivers premium-quality, transparently sourced cacao to the specialty chocolate market.
Stable prices and a better deal for smallholder farmers
For farmers, Uncommon Cacao offers access to a stable and high value market with the ability to participate in informed, annual price negotiations. By facilitating direct connections to farmers and farmer groups, Uncommon Cacao guarantees chocolate manufacturers higher-quality, transparently sourced and traded cacao.
Premium-quality cacao for the speciality chocolate market
Uncommon Cacao is able to demonstrate that it drives maximum value to farmers and creates long-term meaningful impact for communities at origin. Farmers working with Uncommon Cacao’s Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize, which is responsible for over 80% of the country’s exports, saw annual income rise by 92% as a result of price increases, yield improvements, farm expansions and market connections. In addition, there was an 85% increase in the rate of farmers’ children attending secondary school, and in 2015, Uncommon Cacao saw 43% more women join the farmer network in Belize.
Already operating in Belize and Guatemala as an exporter and having just launched a US-based import and sales programme, within the next five years Uncommon Cacao wants to impact 10,000 farming families across 15 countries, with the goal that all these families earn a living income through cacao farming.