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At 30, Sabrina Mustopo is the CEO and co-founder of Kakoa Chocolate, a 100% Indonesian bean-to-bar chocolate brand which sources cocoa beans from smallholder farmers in Sumatra. Kakoa’s two-fold mission is to create a world-class chocolate from Indonesia that can compete in the global market while improving the livelihoods of Indonesian cocoa farmers.
Agriculture, according to Sabrina, holds the answer to sustainable economic development.
With a major international agricultural and rural development from Cornell University, she went on to work as consultant for McKinsey & Company focusing on agriculture and economic development. Her work took her to agricultural projects worldwide, including Tanzania, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.
She co-founded Kakoa with a McKinsey colleague Simon Wright in 2014, leaving her job as a consultant to join the bean-to-bar movement. When she discovered that Indonesia is touted as the third largest producer of cocoa in the world but the beans are perceived to be of low quality and cocoa farmers are struggling to maintain their livelihoods, Sabrina saw the potential of turning the Indonesian cocoa sector around.
“Being a farmer is a noble profession. Farmers have been long under-appreciated, do some of the hardest work and have the least opportunity available to them. They should be given the opportunity to empower themselves,” said Sabrina, who works with a small team of 10 in Lampung and Jakarta.
Since 2014, over 60 farmers have undergone an 8-week training program by Kakoa facilitators to improve the quality of their beans, learn farm management and how to maintain a healthy farming ecosystem. Farmers who work with Kakoa are also paid higher than market price for their beans.
Kakoa collaborates with the World Wildlife Fund to support smallholder cocoa farmers in conservation areas such as the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra, where some of the last remaining Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants live.
In Jan 2015, Kakoa received investment funding from LGT Venture Philanthropy Foundation, a global impact investor supporting social impact organizations.
“I believe the work we do is important on both the macro and personal level. There is a huge disconnect between people and food. Who are the people who make and grow your food?” said Sabrina. “We want our consumers to get to know the farmers who grow their food, and know that they are making a real and substantial difference in their lives.
Written by Titania Veda