Opinions & Commentary

Uganda’s first Chocolate maker eyes setting up a Cooperative 

When you met 32-year-old Stephen Ssembuya, his passion for chocolate strikes you immediately. Stephen hangs pictures of chocolate bars in his office and does not go for over 10 minutes without talking about chocolate. He prides in making Uganda’s first chocolates.

In his office found in Ntinda – Kyanja he busies himself with making artistic chocolate bar designs.

Over 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in Africa, yet are shipped out to process into bar or drinking chocolate.

This is the pattern that Stephen believes he can change, right from empowering the cocoa farmers till the stage of making chocolates locally.

He eyes setting up a cooperative, working with over 3,000 cocoa stakeholders such as producers and farmer groups to register themselves as co-operative.

Currently, he prides in assisting farmers out of poverty who were getting terrible prices from cocoa on the market by educating them on finances. He guarantees that a cooperative will help them get a better price for the cocoa throughout the year, cushioning them from price fluctuations.

With a cocoa plantation in Mukono, which he inherited from his family, Stephen has sought to make a difference.

He is also active in politics in Mukono, despite losing when he contested in the local polls. Together with his family, they have funded towards a hospital, school, and roads in Mukono.

Stephen believes that a country’s development begins right from empowering one another and love for the country at large.

His chocolates branded Uganda and the Pearl of Africa have also created jobs right along the supply chain.

These are majorly sold to Kampala restaurants and hotels that use them to make desserts, pastries and put in ice-cream.

A lot of the chocolate on the shelves of Uganda’s major supermarkets come from foreign nations such as England, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Brazil, and Turkey among others. A 100g bar normally sells for about 20,000 Ugx or approximately above 5 US dollars

But now by selling Ugandan made chocolate branded “Uganda”, he has won appreciation for the Ugandan chocolate selling a 50g bar at 5,000 Ugx or approximately 1 US dollar.

Stephen is currently recognized by Forbes amongst the under 30 African entrepreneurs for his processed drinking chocolate and bar chocolate, which are not only consumed locally in Uganda but are exported to German and Italy.

He learned to make the delicious rich brown liquid through trial and error, largely challenged by starting the project with no background of chocolate making and a challenge of financing, the largest hurdle is that there was no place he would learn where to make chocolate from.

Stephen took to research and self-teaching about chocolate making. He then started processing chocolate in 2014 under his company – Pink Foods which he had registered in 2011.

Currently, he has invested Shs500 million into the machinery alone and creates jobs for over 30 people at the processing plant and 20 at the farm.

He eyes more penetration into the international market but first intends to invest in more machinery required to meet the demand.

With a production of 30 kilograms or 12000 bars of chocolate per day. Stephen rips millions from his chocolates and is honored so far to be recognized by Forbes amongst the under 30 African entrepreneurs. To him, there is just but the start of ripping from the sweet chocolate

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