From now our work will take on a new dimension. We will bring the transforming power of trade to many more women ‘chocolate entrepreneurs’. This award is a reflection of hundreds of entrepreneurs, producers and chocolatiers and their learning, enthusiasm and hard work. It allows us to set new goals and open up new ways to connect with the world. We in Venezuela are tremendously grateful that the Basque Culinary Prize has placed this trust in us.
Maria has built a whole chain of education, entrepreneurship and economic development around Venezuelan cacao. With Kakao and Cacao de Origen, she supports local producers with the resources they need to improve their product – including production processes, fermentation and marketing – in order to export to master chocolatiers around world aligned with the Bean to Bar movement (some 60 producers in 18 communities are currently taking part). Maria also helps women to become chocolate entrepreneurs themselves, with a training program that focuses on gender equality, competitiveness and fairtrade practices. In collaboration with Simón Bolivar University, Maria has also founded a Cacao Industry Management program from which 1,500 have already graduated (94% women).