Creating a social business model for indigenous Maya cacao farmers in Belize and Guatemala
Emily Stone –founder of Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) – is connecting the small indigenous Maya farmers in Belize and Guatemala with the ultra-premium chocolate industry. While cacao constitutes their only source of income and a sustainable alternative to chemical-intensive crops (such as banana), it also carries profound cultural and historical meanings for the rural indigenous Mayan, the first to commercialize cacao.
MMC’s objectives are three-fold:
- SOCIAL: To grow prosperous farming communities by providing meaningful market access;
- ENVIRONMENTAL: To promote reforestation and encourage organic, sustainable agroforestry;
- PRODUCTIVE: To profitably produce an increasing volume of the highest quality, organic cacao.
MMC provides technical assistance, organic certification, farmer-friendly financing, and sells cacao to consumers who increasingly care about transparent, ethical trading relationships.
As of January 2016 MMC sourced cacao from 600 Belizean and Guatemalan farmers. Its price standards have driven competitors to raise their price floors, thus benefiting the entire cacao farming community targeted. This Increased income for farmers led to the possibility of enrolling more of their numerous children in schools, home improvements and further investment in their farms.
Emily was elected Ashoka Fellow in 2006 as part of the program cohort led by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Hystra and Ashoka to support social entrepreneurship in Latin America.