Cocoa one of Africa`s leading major commodity export has always been the raw material used in the production of chocolates, over 70% of cocoa global consumption is sourced from west Africa with Ghana and Ivory coast leading the coast of major producers. Today`s chocolate industry is valued at over $100B with little been attributed to the producers of its major raw material in Africa or even a thriving cocoa processing industry.
Africa`s consumption of chocolate is barely below 5%, Of this amount, North Africa and South Africa accounted for three-quarters of the flows, owing to their higher GDP per capital and more developed consumer markets. Although locally produced chocolate bars are more affordable and are targeted at Africa’s consumer class, they have a tiny market share with little or no major players around Africa. Given high manufacturing costs and the limited consumer market, locally produced chocolate bars struggle to compete against well-established imported chocolate brands in offering an attractive price point.
Melvit Team caught up with the founder of Gourmandise chocolates, Song Tali Livramento via email in Luanda Angola. Gourmandise is a locally produced chocolate brand in Africa`s $5B import dominated industry. She has particularly enjoyed a monopoly in her home country where consumption is high but with little or no local producers. Today the business is growing in leap and bounds.
Below you would find an Extract from our discussion with Song.
Melvit: How did you decide to start this business?
Song Tali Livramento: It started as a hobby back in 2010 as I decided to make easter eggs for my daughter and soon I realized it was something that I truly enjoyed making and decided to learn how to make artisanal chocolate by self-teaching
STL: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and a Post-graduate degree in Global Human Resources, I have also worked for almost 7 years at a multinational oil company in Luanda before i quit last year.
Melvit: How did that idea become a business & how Big is the market?
STL: As soon as I realized that in Angola we had no chocolates with an Angolan brand and how excited friends and family were about it, I decided to take a shot and start selling my chocolates by orders. Internationally obviously chocolate is an old and huge market, in Angola there are no other businesses besides mine that make artisanal chocolate (that I know of!) so I still hold this advantage. It is potentially a big market as more people are buying locally made products plus we are also facing a shortage in foreign products so there is a high demand for certain kinds of products, sweets being one of them.
Melvit: Customer base and Target distribution?
STL: My costumers are from different backgrounds, mainly middle to upper class due to the prices, I also target people on events’ planning and companies that often want gifts for customers and employees.
Melvit: Family and friends perception when you started
STL: Friends and family have always been very supportive, i am continuously encouraged to dedicate more of my time to this business as I previously only worked part-time. When I had to quit my paid job to focus on this business people were excited of that single action.
Melvit: influence of government policy on your business:
STL: It is difficult to get financing in Angola for small businesses due to a heavy bureaucracy and limitation of banks to give out loans. Thus has been a major step-back for my business.
Melvit: Where do you see yourself in 5-10yrs?
STL: Having a chocolate boutique in Luanda and then in other main provinces in Angola. Also importing my primary products from African countries that produce cocoa (since Angola doesn’t unfortunately) which would allow me to provide more authentic chocolates with a higher quality.
Melvit: what is the processing time for each of the item produced?
STL: About 45 minutes to an hour for a chocolate box of twenty chocolates (from confection to packaging), it depends also on the type of chocolate, colored chocolates for instance take longer to make.
Melvit: How do you intend to change the African Narrative?
STL: Not sure what this question means but I do want to show that African products can have HIGH quality and can become very competitive worldwide and also show how far I can achieve as an African woman living in a very difficult country where I have to constantly find ways to keep my business running. I practically have to import
most of the raw materials used in production.
Melvit: what is your business strategy that has kept you ahead?
STL: To keep on offering different and excellent products. i am planning on lunching a unique product that would scale in the Angola market. I also plan to work with a mixture of foreign and local flavors.
Melvit: Most challenging phase as an entrepreneurs
STL: For me it was and still is relying on my business for sustaining a family, it is not easy because I rely on how much I can make in sales in a month, plus the market here in Angola is very unstable. Sometimes I cannot find the raw materials i need and therefore have to import everything from overseas which means i have to source for foreign currency. Sourcing for foreign currency is increasingly difficult due to economic crisis currently being experienced in Angola.
Melvit: Advise to entrepreneurs in this same business
STL: My advice is to try to always offer customers the best product and service they can offer, quality is very important, so is giving your time and dedication to your business. Start small, plan well and be ready to sacrifice time and money on your business.
Brand Name: Gourmandise Chocolates
Motto: Offer a unique product of quality to our costumers.
Phone Number: +244 998 227 202
Biz address: Avenida Comandante Valodia, Luanda-Angola
Social Media: Facebook: GOURMANDISE Chocolates,