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Showing posts with label Clay Gordon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clay Gordon. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

De'Aruhuä Indigenous Craft Chocolate

The Beginning, First Blog Post

Never Thought I Would Be in the Chocolate Business

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

Several years ago I began a quest to live as far away from modern civilization and as close to primitive civilization as I could get and still be on the map. After 10 years of searching and visiting a region East outside of Puerto Ayacucho in Venezuela I finally got my wish and purchased a 40 hectare foundation (hobby farm) in 2013 which I decided to make into an ecovillage, its called Ekobius. It is the last non-indigenous private property located at kilometer 24 of the Via Gavilan roadway and is bordered on three sides by indigenous Piaroa territory, the next piece of private property or roadway to the South or East is over 1,000 kilometers in either direction located in Brazil or Guyana, literally at the edge of civilization bordered by wilderness.

Six indigenous Piaroa persons
Indigenous Piaroa Cacaoteros of Paraguaza visiting Caracas

The Piaroa, also known as the De'Aruhuä (day-are-wa) are the original inhabitants of the Guiana Highlands region (forested foothill canyons of the Guiana Shield) in the Indigenous State of Amazonas. In the Piaroa language their name De'Aruhuä means, "Guardians of the Forest" or "Masters of the Forest." It took several years before they warmed up to us as our friends. About a year ago some of the Piaroa people I know from having the ecovillage came to visit me while I was working in Caracas, they came to ask for my help to help them export to Germany where they heard they could get fair-trade pricing for the agricultural production of wild cacao. Traditionally they have only provided cacao for several local traders, however since 2014 it has become more difficult to get fair pricing from who are now government associated buyers.

This led me to spend several days investigating and researching online through every available source I was connected to including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to help them find a market for their cacao. Personally at the time I did not know much about cacao or chocolate, except I had several trees at the Amazon farm which I had because of my horticultural interest in the plant and I knew that the neighbors (some indigenous families) grow it in the forests. I also discovered from them that the farmers were receiving less than $1 per kilo (sometimes as little as 30 cents) for their F1 premium cacao in Puerto Ayacucho, far below the fairtrade value and the quality being delivered. I immediately wanted to see them compete directly with the cacao traders, wholesalers and retailers, so I began the journey with them.

From the research I performed online I discovered that the Piaroa cacao was being used by a number of different companies to make fine and aromatic chocolate (companies like Soma, Castronovo, Tisana, and Escazu) and that their raw cocoa beans were being offered online for as much as $5-7 per pound in the United States and Europe. It was about then that I met Clay Gordon online using LinkedIn, he is a chocolate expert and author, he has an interactive blog and forum TheChocolateLife; Clay took an interest in the Piaroa beans and offered me some advice and help connecting with others who could provide a market for the beans. We spoke for several hours one day about chocolate and the importance of the genetics, cru and terroir of the Piaroa cocoa. 

So I spent some time following up on Clay's advice writing to several buyers of fine cacao and sending a few samples out. While everyone we contacted were impressed with the Piaroa cocoa beans the red tape involved for the Piaroa to directly export their beans under the political circumstances are too much to bear and not practical without a commitment. Although we could find several potential buyers in North America after customs declarations, duty, freight and handling charges it became too complex for the size of their endeavor.

After probably 3-4 weeks learning all that I could about cacao (cocoa) and chocolate, writing 20 emails and sending out 10 samples I began to discuss with the Piaroa the idea of making the chocolate themselves, I proposed that by providing some of the people from their community we could make an indigenous produced product that would have very unique natural qualities. After several discussions with Piaroa community leaders we decided to start a chocolate company for their cacao with them. 

I see many positive benefits in making chocolate, I love doing it as well, and I have a good background in food science, but if you had asked me 5 years ago I never would have imagined or thought about becoming a chocolate maker, much less with my indigenous neighbors.

Starting a Cooperative Chocolate Factory with the Piaroa

After meeting with more than 30 Piaroa people from the remote Paraguaza communities and knowing well another 150 neighbors who know me on the Catañiapo River, I know the Piaroa are not of a capitalist mindset, however like the rest of the people in the world they work and produce goods for money to buy essentials. The Piaroa are very peaceful, resourceful, reserved and humble people; as an indigenous culture they are most comparable to the Amish or Hutterites as a peaceful people, they are more focused on their communal values, well-being and the benefits that can be derived unconditionally in their communities from cooperation by their members together.

Man raking cacao (cocoa beans).
Drying cacao (cocoa beans) on the Upper Paraguaza River in Venezuela.

Living around the Piaroa and learning to respect them as a distinctive people with their own culture, traditions, customs, language and world-view; I also began to accept their differences and understand what was important to them and how to work with them successfully, it took just as long for them to trust me as their neighbor. In the Piaroa culture the ideal of competition among others or stockpiling of resources is evil, whereas cooperation is lauded, the concept of equality is prevalent between both men and women in Piaroa society. The Piaroa have a perfect combination of personal characteristics and social values for a cooperative business.

By involving me and the ideals of Globcal International the Piaroa are taking their first step towards sustainability, now two of their tribal members are now also ambassadors with Globcal International. Our cooperative social enterprise will include the entire supply chain, "forest-to-bar" chocolate considering the extent of territory and demographics we are developing a case study for the project to launch it as an initiative of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) because of the social impact that can be generated, it will potentially qualify for much more support from investment than anyone would have anticipated, as a relevant cause. Currently this project targets 12 of the 17 SDGs.

By June of 2019 we began to let our intentions be known about becoming involved in the development of a chocolate factory which we called "De'Aruhuä Cacao" which would be socially justified, managed and used to generate funding for the Piaroa communities and for Globcal International social investors. We began to develop a business plan by the end of the month. 

Early into writing the plan I contacted Clay Gordon again, this time on Facebook and asked him to look over the plan, he agreed and gave me a few tips and we chatted further. Later after getting along a bit more with the business plan, I invited Clay to become a member in the cooperative formation and to help us author the business plan. Clay signed onto the project as an advisor, consultant and business developer providing his professional services as an authority on chocolate and to fact check the plan, in late August he wrote the introduction.

He created the ideal of a single cooperative entity called and described simply as the Piaroa Partnership Platform (PPP) which he suggested, "a cooperative social enterprise, in which investment can be sought, monies disbursed, oversight undertaken, training given, cocoa purchased, chocolate produced, and finished products marketed and sold internationally." Both of the Piaroa representatives that I am working with were very impressed with the ideals presented in the PPP proposal in the plan so they were adopted immediately.

Building the Ideal and Making it Real

To make the ideal of Piaroa Forest-to-Bar chocolate a reality I began taking the steps of creating an identity around the company and project the name in the social media. For lack of having professional photography and video productions we are still short in what we need for a well done presentation, however that will change soon and expect some very good photographs soon. Our logo is nice it is based on a Piaroa petroglyph. We are also already invested in three tons of their cacao, which we have on hand now.
The PPP is also under alternative development and open to partnership formation focused on their protection of a 5,000 square kilometer protectorate area through sponsored international scouting programs and providing agroforestry extension services in cacao growing communities. Globcal International has worked up a plan that is attractive to other countries as part of their national interest, important to nonprofits, ngos, educational institutions and the public in general that may want to help protect this biosphere and watershed protection area.

The plan currently under development and seeking partnerships is published online at the United Nations SDGs Partnership website as "Indigenous Agroforestry & Ecosystem Protectorate for the Piaroa of the Orinoco." The total cost of the PPP community interest project initiatives to be executed in the Piaroa communities is between $450,000-$630,000 to build the infrastructure in the communities to remove people from abject-poverty like conditions, supply the farmers with good hand tools, provide working clothes, build community centers, provide training, dig solar wells and construct new bathhouses, these activities will be developed and implemented in 13 selected villages based on goodwill and international cooperation development. These are among some of the things we hope to accomplish by connecting this project with the UN SDGs Agenda. Currently just a fundraising goal for initiating focused community improvements and implementing programs ad hoc based on budgets being fulfilled and new partnership developments. 

As an SDGs Partnership Initiative of Globcal International the PPP qualifies for donations, grants, in-kind gifts and technical support from a great number of sources including departments of the United Nations, international foundations, non-governmental organizations, foreign embassies, international governmental organizations, corporations and individuals.   

The business plan for the chocolate factory and De'Aruhuä brand is being developed independently as a part of the PPP, it will be owned by its own cooperative and private investors, likewise belong to the PPP, practically the facility will be a laboratory standard chocolate factory that can produce anyone's chocolate and provide a seal of origin. It will cost approximately $490,000 for the entire first two years of operations, including all real estate, remodeling, labor, materials, maintenance, supplies, training, utilities, and overhead to produce the first $1.5 million dollars worth of chocolate, that is a $1 million dollar profit in the first two years after expenses. Less the logistics, interest and administration of the business in subsequent years (from the third-year forward), the factory will be able to produce over 1 million dollars per year in chocolate at a cost of less than $100K per year to supply and operate. The factory would be community operated cooperative that produces chocolate as a sustainable way to produce a social benefit that accomplishes its greater goal. 

There is more information on how to invest in the chocolate factory on the original website which was established earlier this year or you can invest here for $10 per share if you purchase a minimum of 10 shares you will be considered a non-voting member and consumer, currently we are accepting 1% memberships which is 1000 shares. The business plan is available to all those who join the PPP (De'Aruhuä Cacao) with 100 shares or more in the chocolate factory, it is also made available to members of Globcal International programs. If you would like a formal invitation please email dearuhua@globcal.net to request one.