The World We Want

Home / Our Projects / Virunga Origins — Chocolate

Exporting a finished chocolate bar, thereby keeping the value addition in country to create equitable value chains.

See all projects Project gallery

For too long, the chocolate industry has kept too much happiness for itself. Profits have not been shared evenly through the supply chain. One reason for this is that processing, the actual value addition, is done outside the countries where cocoa is sourced.

This is where the unique story of Virunga Origins begins. As a social enterprise, the bars are made locally — at the source of the bean. Everyone involved in creating this bar benefits. And 100% of all profits go back to Virunga National Park and its surrounding communities.  It’s simple math. The factory sources directly from the cocoa producers eliminating middlemen. The factory employs locally, prioritizing widows of rangers killed protecting the park. And importantly, Virunga Origins makes fantastic chocolate.

Virunga Origins empowers small, family businesses. Communities have greater economic opportunity putting more kids in school, saving endangered trees on the hills, and keeping vulnerable youth out of the militias. It enables the protection of the one of the world’s most important parks, giving gorillas, chimps, hippos, elephants, lions, leopards, and all the Park’s wildlife a brighter future.

Although set up and run as a company, the ownership structure enables all profits to go back into the communities and the conservation efforts of Virunga National Park. 3W is proud to share ownership of Virunga Origins Chocolate with Virunga National Park as well as the chocolate “dream team” comprised of Dominique Persoone, the Chocolatier Extraordinaire behind Belgium’s Chocolate Line; Mathieu Brees, founder of the bean to bar company, Ki’Xocolatl; and Dimitri Moreels, founder and CEO of COPAK.  See the the Economist article.

For 3W, this is an exciting culmination of years of work with Virunga National Park. We started our partnership with Emmanuel de Merode, the Park’s warden, in 2013 with the Park’s first piloted hydro-plant, Mutwanga.  That plant now powers the Virunga Origins Chocolate Factory enabling unprecedented economic activity in the region. Virunga Origins is a powerful way to achieve social justice, giving the Congolese people the ability to retain the value of their natural resources using local talent and local empowerment — an economic revolution.