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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chocolate Trust Fund for the Piaroa (Updated)

Starting Out is the Hardest Part

By Col. David J. Wright, Goodwill Ambassador for Globcal International

Getting started is the hardest part of accomplishing any great achievement, even if it is a relatively small achievement in the eyes of the world like a small chocolate factory operated by an indigenous tribe. Generating interest and new support for a project in a world full of projects is difficult unless you can manage to convince an initial audience that your project will succeed and that it is special in some way..

We started building on the idea of starting a chocolate factory with the indigenous Piaroa last year and came to terms with our objectives and purposes in June of 2019 reaching a final agreement with the Piaroa this September recognizing two of them as Globcal International members and commissioners which will facilitate the formation of the project.

Now finally we are on a good path because we are organized in the presentation and development of the chocolate factory with a good viable business plan thanks to the help of Globcal International members Clay Gordon, Chocolate Expert and Consultant from TheChocolateLife; Maria Veneke, Goodwill Ambassador trained in the SDGs from Sweden; and my son Nicholas Wright, Nanoscientist who is pretty good with his English.

Another member of the project, Ambassador James Garcia said referring to the business plan, "that it all looks pretty good, but it should probably have better financials using charts, an executive plan with a timeline and to pull together an initial development fund through crowdfunding."

Introducing our GoFundMe Campaign *(Cancelled - See Update Below)

We are taking Ambassador Garcia's advice by developing an executive timeline for the next 10 months in our business plan. So now we expect to have five (45 day) campaigns, with 15 day intermissions to regroup and prepare the next phase, each to be focused on a different aspect of the formation.

The first phase begins now with a GoFundMe Campaign to establish the De'Aruhuä Trust Fund being presented by myself and other goodwill ambassadors, it was developed over the last several days, is being based in Richmond, Kentucky through an organization I founded in 1994 and it is being deployed now, currently there are six or more team members from Globcal International that will be helping to promote the project in the social media are registered to help in the crowdfunding platform.

The donated funds being raised will be used for the indigenous Piaroa develop a foundation, to get tools, provide them with uniforms, plant tree seeds, purchase sports equipment, present practical educational workshops and enable many other benefits from forming a sustainable well-defined organization. The published program explains it very well on GoFundMe.

We are looking for folks willing to support us to donate $10, $50, $100, $1,000 or whatever they can to our campaign to help get us started. People can also donate on our website or buy shares in our chocolate factory.

New GoFundMe Campaign for the De'Aruhuä Trust Fund

We will also be introducing a crowdfunding page on Patreon in the coming days where there are different ways to invest in the De'Aruhuä Chocolate Business Plan and Cooperative as well as an article presenting our project as it is registered in the United Nations SDG Partnership Platform.

GoFundMe Campaign Cancelled 

Updated 12:30 October 25th, 2019

No sooner than the campaign began it was ended by GoFundMe. The campaign was actually published on Tuesday which gave us time to organize a six member team of goodwill ambassadors from Globcal International to promote the campaign; however at 5:23 PM yesterday the support office at GoFundMe stopped the campaign and removed my account because of the target country in part is Venezuela and relief would be going to Venezuelan citizens. Despite this we replied to their letter and explained our situation. 
GoFundMe wrote: "Unfortunately, you have created a campaign in or intend to distribute funds to a country that is not supported by our payment processors...Because of this, your account has been removed.
We have few options other than to understand that they have their own rules and policies.

As a result of this we have established a Donation Page on our website effective immediately. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wild, Ethical and Sustainable Cacao and Chocolate

Sustainable Forest-to-Bar Chocolate

By Col. David J. Wright, Goodwill Ambassador for Globcal International

Reading the articles online at TheChocolateLife by Clay Gordon and following his ChocolateLifeNews feed gives a person a great overview about what is happening in the world with chocolate and cocoa. There is really much more to know about chocolate than most people care to spend the time to learn; that is unless you develop an interest in chocolate for its health benefits, as a candy, a food, as a connoisseur of chocolate, or in my case as a coordinator of a chocolate making cooperative.

Reading the news feed we see three main topics that have been repeating themselves recently 1) innovative marketing of chocolate, 2) general industry news and 3) sustainability; while the first two topics are expected, the third, sustainability is a new complex issue that touches on the environment, human rights, equality, ethical values, the economy, climate change, deforestation, corruption, child labor, slavery, graft and predatory market practices.

Over 30 miles from the highway bagging up sustainable wild cacao that has been cured and dried.

Sustainable Chocolate

Sustainable chocolate ideally is free of all the problems that exist in the cocoa supply chain ending with a happy consumer that feels that they have done the right thing by selecting and purchasing the most responsible and sustainable chocolate. Public awareness is mounting, governments are involved, the news media is reporting about the problems that exist in the cocoa industry and new documentaries have been developed about the cocoa trade in Africa as being unsustainable showing its impact on the lives of children (as young as eight years old) and adolescent youth who have very few options.

Ideally "sustainable cacao" should earn farmers $2.70 to $3.90 per kilogram or more for their cacao beginning as early as this month; a price that is considered fair and sustainable by the World Cocoa Organization for ordinary cocoa; the price in Central America, South America and Asia for aromatic and fine cacao should be higher. In parts of Africa and other places in the world, "who will get this money?" then becomes the question because it is most often the farm owner that is using trafficked child labor or low-wage cocoa workers that will be getting the better price with little if any improvement for the victims of wage exploitation or slavery. In Africa however, it seems to also have moral and ethical implications combined with a lack of law enforcement, a good social model and understanding of human rights based in necessity and ignorance of the law.

The increased concern about sustainability has many companies, both large corporations and small craft chocolate makers visiting cocoa plantations, developing innovative projects, creating traceability systems, building schools and community centers where cocoa workers live, getting farms under contract as their own cocoa providers and forming organizations like cooperatives and civil associations that represent workers and small-holding interests which advocate for their market position.

Nonetheless the buyers of beans that depend on pulling together 100 tons or more per year are often ruthless middlemen that put themselves in a position to facilitate the commerce of beans at the lowest possible price to the farmer and the highest price to the broker, sometimes this price in equivalent value is under $1 per kilo. This breaks the possibility of a sustainable supply chain, yet it is true that most beans are sold to these middlemen who buy directly from farmers. Beans that end up with regional buyers are often mixed with other beans from other areas and different farms which results in a mixed single-origin (country) chocolate, like the one produced by Venezuela's government chocolate maker or by Nestle which buys a lot of Venezuelan cacao from a variety of sources. Without more integrity in these areas those who source beans who have not become noted for their provisioning services are at a disadvantage when it comes to providing fine aromatic specific origin beans that meet all the requirements of some buyers.

Additionally much of the world's cocoa crop is irrigated artificially, is grown in monoculture orchards, uses pesticides and depends on chemical fertilizer to boost fruiting, so these are big challenges for the chocolate industry as more than 95% of all cocoa is subject to one or more of these factors; all of these conditions affect the sustainability of the end product.

Let's Be Sustainable

I am glad we do not need to worry about many of these things, ours is 'organic by nature' because it is grown-wild and where it is grown so deep in the forest. It is good to see some bean-to-bar makers taking steps to become more sustainable by visiting cacao farmers and traveling to cacao farms and estates that are more sustainable

We have other advantages in demonstrating sustainability because we are dealing with the most rural farmers (indigenous people) that live in very isolated remote communities; who while they live in poverty, produce their cacao socially on a community level involving several principal farmers (including women). The price we will pay the farmers is transparent using the blockchain because they will bring and deliver their cacao to the factory where 'they' receive the agreed price of $3 plus premiums for quality control and traceability; then they make specialty chocolate with the "wild cacao" they have already harvested, cured and dried already; at least this is our plan.

It is my opinion as the author and business developer that if there is a 'sustainability prize' for the "most sustainably produced cacao" that we should go after that prize. I am sure we can win it!

Getting Started

As a company that is just starting out De'Aruhuä Chocolate wants to do everything right and enjoy building a successful business that can meet the needs of its consumers without exploiting others, giving in to corruption or being unsustainable. We are accomplishing this with our business plan which will work as our universal company operations manual it implicitly incorporates best practices, guidelines and regulations in a plan being developed by other chocolate makers, under industry advocates and international organizations to develop our own unique cooperative enterprise.

We are off to a great start because the Piaroa were and are living sustainably since before they began growing wild cacao or thought about making chocolate. They live deep in the pristine mountain forests of the Three Rivers Protectorate (3RP) an indigenous territorial reserve and protected wilderness area (without roads) in Venezuela comprising 5,000 square kilometers with three navigable clean water rivers the Catañiapo, Cuao and Paraguaza that feed into the Orinoco. I know because I am part-owner of a ecovillage property on the front border of their territory on the Catañiapo River, which is now being dedicated to help us build a bridge between cultures while we help them ensure the continued prosperity and abundance from their lands without the need to engage in extractive industries and illegal deforestation.

Many of them were growing cacao before we came up with this idea to make chocolate with them; in the field however there is lots of room for improvement with agroecological (agroforestry) practices, pruning, post-harvest techniques, standardizing curing procedures and of course in order to sell their chocolate internationally it must be prepared under the guidelines established by the industry. Implementing the blockchain will be the most challenging but it will also bring additional value to the consumer in the long-run, while bringing some new challenges in the marketing of our product at a higher price. Anyway we are glad to be able to work with the Piaroa Partnership Platform (PPP) which is being organized by De'Aruhuä Cacao to assist in their communities working at their agroforestry plantations.

Aromatic Wild Forastero, Theobroma cacao L. in the Guiana Highlands.

Most Sustainable Chocolate

So what does it take to make the most sustainable chocolate? Should this be our company goal? There are other considerations besides those that are mentioned above; such as how far away the factory might be from the source of the cacao, whether pesticides or chemical fertilizers were used, how much water is being consumed by the cacao trees, how much money is being paid to the farmer, how much is being paid to the middleman and if the cacao was sourced sustainably.

If we were located in North America far from the source of the cacao (cocoa beans) then the environmental footprint of the company would be proportionate and the cost to produce chocolate is dramatically increased based on human labor requirements. Today to properly address all of the factors that consumers are concerned with involves increasing the final list price and the value through delivering a superiorly made product, that is traced to its source, organic, pesticide-free, natural and wild. Moreover the chocolate product we want to produce benefits a social enterprise which is owned by the same people that grow the cacao (cocoa beans).

In addition to the common challenges faced by chocolate makers in selecting the right cacao to use for their chocolate such as how the tree was grown, the soil, the climate, the type of cacao tree (there are 22 subspecies and varieties), the fermentation process, drying process and ageing the beans before using them to make chocolate. All of these things must be known and controlled in order to then perfectly roast their cocoa beans, generally not all of these factors are recorded for each 30-40 kilo bag of beans, but with our data recording app they are.

We feel that if not already, we will have one of the most sustainable chocolates because we are starting with the most sustainable cacao and people that have been living sustainably for many years. We can also make the following claims for our business model:
  1. Cacao produced by indigenous communities is paid for above fair-trade pricing standards. 
  2. No less than 30% of all chocolate revenue goes back to the Piaroa to provide sustainable community development programs in farmers communities involving education, forest management, settlement infrastructure, health care and personal well-being.
  3. Piaroa cacao is free of chemical pesticides and is wholly organic because it is wild-grown in nature without irrigation and it incorporates eco-friendly agroforestry techniques.
  4. Most communities are off-grid, some more than 90 kilometers into the forest by river, no electricity or fossil fuels are used to transport the cacao down river to the port where we pick it up. (the only other way, but less sustainable would be to generate electricity in the forest, move modern chocolate making machinery to Puerto Ayacucho or try to make their chocolate in the forest, which is not very practical at this time, but should be discussed in future plans.)
  5. All electricity used in Caracas by the machinery where the chocolate will be made is derived from a sustainable hydro-electric source. 
  6. Our wrapper will also be eco-friendly being printed on recycled paper and using soy based ink.
  7. Our cacao and chocolate operation will be certified by two or perhaps three international standards certification organizations plus receive endorsements from several divisions of the United Nations.
  8. If there is any doubt our cacao will be tracked using interactive data driven by blockchain technology from the forest-to-bar.
There will probably be many other ways we can demonstrate our ecological social and economic sustainability with the ongoing development of our chocolate factory project before we finish the business plan. Read more about how to become involved here on our blog.

Membership in our foundation, forest-farmed to factory blockchain brand business model is open to people with first hand craft chocolate, bean-to-bar experience, chocolate shops, people in the cocoa industry, home chocolate makers, connoisseurs of fine chocolate, people interested in our raw cacao and social investors looking to support ecologically sustainability initiatives.

Officially the project has not fully opened-up for investors nor are we sure that it will need to be; but we are seeking investors and members from those with confidence in the chocolate industry and those who can potentially find mutual benefit from the cooperative relationship.

As an investment both members and investors will see modest nominal returns or other benefits as members each year once the project has been fully funded and becomes operational. It is projected that members should expect up to a 9% cash dividend the first year and a 30% dividend by the 5th year; investors will earn 15% interest annually based on the execution of the current business plan. Those who are interested can read more on the website for De'Aruhuä Chocolate.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Indigenous Forest-to-Bar Chocolate

Forest Based Supply Chain Resolves Traceability Issues

Forest-to-Bar Chocolate made by the Piaroa

By Col. David J. Wright, Goodwill Ambassador for Globcal International

We are working with the humble and peaceful Piaroa people of the Guiana Highlands in Southern Venezuela's Indigenous State of Amazonas to produce fine craft chocolate bars using their own unique wild harvested uncommon cacao and a variety of locally sourced ingredients to introduce new flavors and experiences for chocolate lovers using specially processed natural superfoods, medicinal honey and exotic fruits. The consumer product will be harvested, processed and manufactured all by the cooperative before being exported to international consumers, using blockchain technology.

We are calling our company De'Aruhuä Cacao, which means "Cacao from the Guardians of the Forest." and the company will form part of the Piaroa Partnership Platform (PPP) which is being promoted through the UN Sustainable Development Platform.

The chocolate bar factory that the company wants to build will be located in Caracas, Venezuela because it is simply the best place to make fine chocolate, has an industry support network and the easiest place in Venezuela to do international business for the indigenous Piaroa. There are also advantages for the Piaroa that want to get advanced education degrees or attend certificate workshops at the Central University in Caracas while working here in the factory.

Blockchain Technology

Today people want to know more about their food, they want to know where it came from, they want to know the ingredients and moreover today they want to know who made their food? We are resolving this through the use of blockchain technology that implements smartphones, GPS, photographs and an administrative application which in turn is connected to a consumer app. We are currently looking at several blockchain systems that support agricultural products, thus far we are most impressed with the systems being developed by CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation).

Following their harvest the beans are fermented (cured) in their own pulp for 8 days covered by banana leaves.
De'Aruhuä Cacao's business is being developed in such a way that forest, land and product management all occur in the cacao growing and harvesting process, the actual individual trees are each numbered and identified by the computer on a geographical grid each time a tree is visited, there is no need to tag them. The coordinates, weather, time of day and other pertinent data are all recorded using an application. Since we are dealing with many types of wild trees in addition to Theobroma cacao over a large area the use of GPS mapping and satellite tracking is also useful to our indigenous agroecologists in order to find the trees that they plant and help mother nature to maintain.

Forest-to-Bar refers to our supply chain, in essence we are stating that the cacao and wild fruit we harvest, ferment, dry and process is the same cacao, from the same origin that is being sent to the factory and made into chocolate bars by our own cooperators that work there. Each step of the supply chain from the harvest to the final chocolate bar is controlled, documented and monitored as each process occurs.

The factory (laboratory/kitchen) we are projecting will be a 120 square meter state-of-the-art small-batch chocolate making facility producing 80 kilos of fine chocolate every three days, with the ability to triple output based on efficiency improvements and/or hiring additional staff members.

Getting Started

All people have dreams, ideals and plans that they hope to fulfill in life; some are great ideas that are often short lived because we lack the motivation or determination to pursue all of them; and lets face it some ideas were never that great to begin with after investigating and researching the steps required to turn them into a reality. This is less likely to occur when a group of individuals gets involved, others depend on an idea and yet others that support the idea join into the group of idealists based on its merits.

We know many peoples' ideas based on creative thoughts are often too far-flung to be practical and why most ideas never get too far, but that is not the case with the De'Aruhuä Cacao business plan. De'Aruhuä is a very feasible and practical endeavor that can produce 80,000-100,000 chocolate bars per year (first year) and produce 25 tons per year of direct-trade F1 Piaroa cacao for distribution to other chocolate makers. We are dealing with 35 very real indigenous farmers, thousands of square kilometers of wilderness territory, 20,000 cacao trees and 13 different villages where over 500 people depend on subsistence agriculture and agroforestry to meet their needs.

The only thing missing now is an FDA registered chocolate factory which Globcal International believes the Piaroa should have based on their consistency, presentation, persistence and solidarity with us over the past year and a half. The organization is developing an international initiative involving goodwill, sustainable development, economic empowerment, education, environmental protection, indigenous rights and global citizenship around the chocolate factory to efficiently target 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Understanding the financial position of the indigenous Piaroa is not hard if you visit them in person, you will quickly discover they live well-below the poverty line, are mostly unemployed, lack basic welfare services, most live without electricity, cannot provide a proper education for their children and live on a per capita income of less than $60 per year, that is if they go to the town to collect the government benefits, in total it is about 15 cents a day. Agriculture and their forest is really all that they have to make a decent living..

Terms - How to get Involved?

Despite not having any money to build a chocolate factory we have thirty-five Piaroa farmers bringing to the table up-to 30 metric tons of agricultural production, they are willing to work as facilitators across a 5,000 square kilometer territory providing global ecosystem services and most importantly want to protect their territory, culture and traditions. In addition to this we are their neighbors and want to see them do well.

We believe based on what they have is enough to get started, the real estate they occupy and control is 5,000 square kilometers it is worth billions, moreover it is potentially worth millions more annually if it can be used for carbon credit offsets paid directly to the Piaroa International Fund by a country or large corporation, they have other ecosystem services they can market like ecotourism, they have 35 farmers engaged with up to three or four helpers each ready and willing to work, plus they have 20,000 cacao trees in the ground growing and have delegated authorized representatives to the project.

Wild grown single-origin forest based source of cacao.
Withasmuch Globcal International along with Ecology Crossroads in the United States is getting behind the Piaroa and is developing a project online as an official partnership opportunity involving the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. Globcal International believes by creating a larger UN SDGs Initiative with a clear mission around the chocolate factory project is the best way forward making the social enterprise a public and private partnership that serves everyone's needs.

Two Distinct Projects in One

The initiative listed on the UN SDGs Partnership site is called "Indigenous Agroforestry & Ecosystem Protectorate for the Piaroa of the Orinoco" officially known as the Piaroa Protectorate Partnership (PPP) which is also known as the Piaroa Partnership Platform.

To accomplish this the organization needs donations, grants and partnerships to raise between $450,000-$640,000 to invest directly into the Piaroa communities which will be managed offshore from Venezuela remotely by Globcal International which will administer the community development projects in the Indigenous State of Amazonas through the organization's indigenous members. Ecology Crossroads as the trustee of the fund will provide investors, members and partners providing financial resources the ability to monitor transparently funding and profit disposition to employees, investors, providers and beneficiaries using Google Sheets.

Aside from developing a program providing infrastructure improvements for building safe and sustainable human settlements we need to raise $490,000 offering secured equitable funding to build a turn-key bean-to-bar craft chocolate factory and operate for two full years! To do this in our business plan we are evaluating the business concept, the business plan, all of the legal work that has been done already, the trademark of the brand, the website, and social media IP at one million US dollars, less what we need to become operative and purchase the real estate, remodel the facility, purchase machinery, install equipment, pay employees, purchase materials, and all the other expenses involved to produce chocolate for two full years.

To raise the funds that are needed the company is offering 49% of its equity as Class A Preferred Shares, that is 49,000/100,000 of them, to investors and cooperative social enterprise memberships for anyone who is a chocolate expert, lover, maker, connoisseur or person who believes in the principles of cooperation. As a cooperative there are up to 100 members which are all equal, meaning the maximum membership or voting potential of a person is equal to one, a full voting membership (1%) in the cooperative is 1,000 shares under these terms. The shares can be purchased now without any fees for $10 each directly from Ecology Crossroads and go to the De'Aruhuä Trust.

What we need now is funding, good management, transparency and organization by involving additional stakeholders, partners and investors looking for a nominal moderate gain. The price of shares will probably be increased to $11 or $12 each once the project is ready for crowdfunding to offset the costs of using the crowdfunding platforms. The crowdfunding campaign plans are to use Gust, Indiegogo and Wefunder, it was discussed that we begin the first crowdfunding campaign in October or November if we have enough early interest.

The grander initiative which the chocolate factory will eventually support involves community improvements to facilitate general health and well-being of the residents of 13 indigenous settlements to maintain community centers, water wells, sanitary bath/wash houses, septic systems and educational programs focused on agroecology, biodiversity, ecosystem services, ecotourism and forest management.

You can support the chocolate factory as member or investor if you are an individual that has an interest in the business of chocolate. To support the Piaroa Community Revitalization project with the PPP as an individual you can make a donation or as a corporation, organization, foundation, or nation you can become a recognized partner in the Piaroa Protectorate Partnership.

You can read more about the chocolate factory and SDGs initiative at our website