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Sweet success: The business of chocolate

October 14, 2014

As SA’s first black female chocolatier, Mchunu’s working hard to pave the road for aspirant African chocolatiers.

“Africa produces the largest quantity of cocoa beans in the world, yet there are very few distinctly African chocolate brands found on the continent. Most cocoa regions are exploited by the Western world, so I felt it was my calling to be part of the mission to change that picture,” she says.

Initially a home-based business, Ezulwini (isiZulu for “in heaven”) Chocolat was launched 10 years ago, with Mchunu selling her wares at stokvels and from door to door.

Her big break came in 2006, when she was accepted by the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. Here she completed a six-month programme that equipped her with invaluable insights and a focus she says had been missing.

“I gained a better understanding of what it took to run a profitable business, networking and developing market understanding,” she says.

This, coupled with international training at one of the UK’s top food institutions, Leatherhead, and a four-month stint under the tutelage of renowned Swiss chocolatier Läderach, drove the accelerated growth of the business.

Mchunu soon landed a contract supplying chocolates to the Protea Breakwater Lodge in Cape Town. Her most recent “big whale” catch was a venture into retailing, having secured a contract to supply her chocolate range to select high-end Pick n Pay stores in the Western Cape.

The range, called Nandi, has been available in stores since August 2013.

“Entrepreneurs considering approaching retailers need to ensure that they have adequate funding to set up systems like complying with food, safety and hygiene regulations, product development and lab testing. You also need to be certain that your volumes are sustainable,” she advises.

Source: Destiny Connect

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