Happy (almost) Chocolate Day! Tomorrow, Oct. 28, is National Chocolate Day. To celebrate, we’re sharing the story of Margarita in Guatemala. Chocolate is an important part of Margarita’s life. And not just hers, but her community’s as well.
“[Chocolate is] the way that I earn for my family’s food expenses and my children’s school expenses,” Margarita said. “When customers place an order, I know how much I will earn for my children. …”
Chocolate is also important for others in my community because sometimes I need help and I give them work. I ask for their help to peel and roast cocoa beans. It takes about 10 people to peel 100 pounds of cocoa beans in one or two days.”
Margarita’s son Selvin is sponsored through Unbound. Six years ago Margarita attended an Unbound mothers group meeting in which one of the mothers shared her expertise in making chocolate.
Margarita was inspired by the presentation and decided to start making chocolate herself. With a startup loan from the mothers group, Margarita was able to purchase the raw materials needed, such as cocoa beans, sugar and cinnamon.
Though she was able to repay the loan within a year, Margarita had a few bumps along the way.
“When I was starting,” Margarita said, “I did not remember that the beans had to be sundried before roasting. When I roasted and ground the beans, I realized that the color was red. I got scared and said to myself, ‘what happened to my chocolate, it’s not chocolate, it’s red!’ So, I sold red chocolate, same delicious flavor, but red.”
She typically earns $65 a month from her chocolate business, after the cost of production. She plans to continue expanding the business and hopes to someday grow her own cocoa beans and have her own grinder. The grinder alone can cost up to $2,000, but Margarita knows that with hard work and careful savings, she’ll succeed.
The chocolate Margarita makes is used for many things, and several Unbound programs in Guatemala are among her customers. They purchase the chocolate to include with benefits provided to sponsored children and their families.
“The chocolate I make is used to make a hot chocolate drink,” Margarita said. “For special orders I can also make powdered chocolate. People use it to make bread, cakes, candy and tamales.”
Margarita sees chocolate as a path toward a better life.
“I hope that chocolate can bring happiness and prosperity to more families in Guatemala,” she said. “Thanks to Unbound and my chocolate business, this year Selvin will graduate from high school as a mechanic.”
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