Ivory Coast entrepreneur pours love into chocolate

STORY: (Viviane Kouame, Chocolate maker)

“My goal is to be able to give value to chocolate made in Ivory Coast."

Viviane Kouame was only 17 when she fell in love with cocoa trees.

The Ivory Coast entrepreneur decided that cocoa would be a part of her life, and in 2021 she set up her own company, that would produce and sell chocolate "made in Ivory Coast."

"The market is large. As a woman, I am not afraid, as a woman I am confident, and as a woman I am professional."

Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa beans, but most of it is exported and then processed somewhere else in the world.

As a result, Ivorians end up missing out on the added value.

It's a challenge that Vivianne has decided to tackle.

Her company, Chocovi, is one of only a small number of companies making chocolate locally.

(Viviane Kouame Chocolate Maker)

"‘There are two different types of chocolatiers. There are the classic artisans who use blocks of chocolate that they buy called 'covers'. My country is the first producer of cocoa, so I wanted to transform it. So I went to Italy to train on the process of transforming the cocoa bean to the finished product. After I returned, the adventure of Chocovi began.’’

So far, Kouame and her five employees are processing about 2 tons of cocoa per year and selling at stalls in malls in the commercial capital Abidjan.

She says she is seeking investors to scale up.

Kouame also expresses her patriotism through her elaborate packaging.

Some chocolate bars shaped like a map of Ivory Coast, others wrapped in paper decorated with images of the country's beauty spots and cultural traditions.

Customer Philomene Dable was impressed with both form and content.

(Philomene Dable, Customer)

“I love it. I say thank you to Chocovi, to this woman. She is so young and Ivorian. She makes her chocolate in Ivory Coast.”