Do you enjoy a certain kind of snack so much that you have been moved to learn how to do it yourself so that you can enjoy it forever? Well, that is what motivated Monica, the founder of one of the best chocolates made in Ghana, Chocoluv, to learn to do chocolates. This eventually metamorphosed into a start-up.
Read on as she narrates how Chocoluv is putting Ghana on the map, and giving young women financial assistance to pursue their academic aspirations.
Monica is a lawyer by profession. She is a product of Achimota School, Accra High School, and the University of Ghana where she studied law. She has an Executive Masters from the University of Ghana Business School. Monica is an arbitrator, and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK.
The birth of Chocoluv
For her, a key reason for venturing into the chocolate production space is her love for the product and passion to provide quality chocolates. It is also the urge to provide variety, quality taste and healthy products on the market.
Being a lover of chocolates, Monica says the Chocoluv dream began in late 2013 as a hobby driven by her ‘sweet tooth for premium quality chocolates’ where she looks forward to making them herself and even baking and giving chocolate cakes as gifts to family and friends.
Hopefully, by 2015, she started exploring making her chocolates using the country’s rich cocoa. To get better at it, she attended a training programme at Cocoa Processing Company.
“It sparked my interest but I still was not looking at a business. I wanted to develop my own chocolate recipe, reduce the sugar and increase the cocoa content. So I decided to delve deeper into the chocolate industry, and by the way, I love reading a lot so my research began. I bought books on chocolate-making and also enroled in Ecole Chocolat for a three-month online course. All this was just focused on making delicious chocolates for my family and friends,” she said.
According to Monica, in December 2015, she made some Christmas chocolate gifts for one of her ‘Church fathers’. But on presenting the gift, he met another man in conversation with him, and also gave him one, bringing the turning point in her life.
“This gentleman, unknown to me, was a Cameroonian and the then Executive Director of World Cocoa Foundation, Mr. Sona Ebia. He and his family used to sit one row behind me in church but I didn’t know him. He was quite impressed with my little gift of chocolates and followed up the week after in church to express his thanks and inquired where I got them from.
“When I told him it was homemade, he encouraged me to form a business and he linked me up with a German, Mr. Frank Andrich, who made equipment for the small-scale production of chocolates. Frank gave me some equipment on credit and shipped them. He sent his Production Manager to come and install them and also to train me.
“This is where I always look back and say God orchestrated this and ordered my steps as he had a plan for my love for chocolates,” she said.
Chocoluv Company Limited
Chocoluv is a manufacturer of premium artisanal mouthwatering chocolates and related products.
“Chocoluv’s nuggets of milk, white and dark chocolates draw their exquisite flavour and taste from the long and rich history of the finest possible cocoa beans from Ghana. Each nugget is uniquely moulded using quality ingredients with the highest possible quality standards.”
Speaking on what sets her brand apart, she said: “We deliver premium quality products timely with excellent customer service. We produce Chocoluv milk chocolate with 50 percent cocoa, Chocoluv dark chocolates with 72 percent cocoa in a variety of flavours including ginger, chilli, orange, coffee, almonds and coconut. We also make customised chocolate bars for events such as birthdays, weddings, graduations, corporate events, etc”.
Financial stability for young women
As part of Chocoluv Corporate Social Responsibility, it allows young women to work with the brand, offering them financial stability to pursue their academic dreams.
“We are focused on giving young ladies an opportunity to education. So we open our factories to young ladies who are brilliant but need financial assistance to aid their academic dreams to work for the short term or long term. Chocoluv is a business on a mission, we are focused on supporting some Christian missions as they labour in God’s vineyard. We are also intentional about employing young people,” she said.
How education and working experience helped
“As a corporate lawyer, my knowledge of the requirements of setting up a company helped me. In January 2016, Chocoluv was registered as a limited liability company, and we began commercial operations on July 1, 2016. My husband read Nutrition and Food Science for his first degree so he also began the processes of registering our products with the Food and Drugs Authority and complying with the requirements of food safety needed for setting up a factory. We also registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority. I have carried the same passion, hard work, paying attention to details as a lawyer to this food industry,” she intimated.
Chocoluv’s vision is to be the chocolate company of choice in Ghana, Africa and beyond. In addition to growing the company, Chocoluv intends to get into cocoa farming. The start-up is also keenly looking at export opportunities and taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking on difficulties, she said in the cocoa value addition sector for small and medium-sized enterprises, one of the biggest challenges is access to cocoa beans or cocoa liquor at a good price. She however, added that she is happy COCOBOD is actively engaging with the Cocoa Value Addition and Artisanal Association of Ghana (COVAAGH) to address these issues.
Economic empowerment for women
Given that women make up more than half of the population of the country, Monica maintains that empowering women economically is essential and will have a positive impact on the economy.
“There is a lot of research on the impact of economically empowering women that points to greater impact on family nutrition, health and education,” she added.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
To thrive as an entrepreneur, she advises that one needs be enthusiastic, network with others who share their interests, and more importantly, read widely.
“Be passionate about whatever business venture you get in. Be focused and do not spread yourself thinly by trying out different things at the same time. Also, work hard, get as much information, learn about the industry, and be creative and innovative. Network with other entrepreneurs and learn from them. Also, good bookkeeping must start right from the beginning,” she said.
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