Updated: Mar 25
Two-thirds of the global cocoa production comes from West Africa. However, the current supply chain is set in such a way that international corporations make huge profits, while small farmers remain poor. Axel Emmanuel Gbao is one of the first homegrown chocolatiers who decided to embark on a mission of change and we feel very proud to partner with him.
Meet Axel Emmanuel Gbao
Axel was born and raised in the Ivory Coast. He has a master's degree in taxation and used to work as a banker before discovering his passion for chocolate making.
He was struck by the fact that despite the Ivory Coast being the first producer of cocoa beans in the world, there weren't any local chocolate brands, so he decided to create his own.
He trained for six months with pastry chef Salif Koné, then traveled to Paris and Germany to refine his skills.
Once back home in Abidjan, he invested in small machines and started making chocolate in his mum's kitchen.
He now has his own unit and a team of 10 people that help him make over 10,000 chocolate bars a month.
Axel loves making chocolate, but what really feeds his passion is the desire of wanting to train local producers to process their own cocoa beans.
In the Ivory Coast, the livelihood of millions of people is somehow linked with the cultivation of cocoa. If farmers learn to transform and add value to their cocoa beans by learning how to process them, they would be able to raise their prices, get a better income, and reduce poverty in their communities.
Axel made it his mission to teach how to make chocolate to as many women producers as possible.
He started training the women cocoa farmers in the remote villages in the Ivory Coast and then traveled to other African countries ie: Cameroon and the Congo.
As of today, he has trained more than 2,000 women. Also, because of the quality of his handcrafted chocolate bars and his work he has won many awards.