Sunday, December 23, 2012

New Field Partner: Invest in chocolate with Maya Mountain Cacao

We're excited to announce a new partner perfectly fitted to this time of year: Maya Mountain Cacao. That's right, starting now you can make "chocolate loans" on Kiva!

Is there such a thing as chocolate for social good? Yes, and it's in Belize. Maya Mountain Cacao is a for-profit company that sources premium cacao beans from smallholder farmers in the southern part of the country. Along the way it helps marginalized farmers generate income while promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

Belize is one of the seven Caribbean countries that produces premium cacao, and it's highly valued the world over for its quality and flavor. Maya Mountain Cacao works specifically with smallholder families from the K'ekchi and Mopan Maya groups who grow cacao in the jungle foothills of the Maya Mountain range in Belize's Toledo district.

These traditional Mayan groups consistently have the highest poverty rates, the highest unemployment and the lowest average income of any ethnic group in the country.

MMC supports farmers by providing affordable seedlings, technical assistance, centralized processing equipment, organic certification and stable local markets. By selling their cacao fresh to MMC, farmers are only responsible for producing and harvesting their crops. This gives them the opportunity focus more on family and increasing their yields to bring in more money.

MMC gives farmers a fair price for their cacao, far above the Fair Trade premium. It makes this possible by connecting farmers with lerger chocolate companies. Altogether, these support services encourage farmers to abandon slash-and-burn farming and help lift entire villages out of poverty.

So what does this have to do with Kiva?

Kiva lenders' funds will help MMC meet demand for pre-harvest financing from its farmers. Loans between $250 and $1,000 will enable farmers to buy better tools, invest in farm maintenance and expand their land to grow even more crops.

More chocolate can only be a good thing. So if you're interested in making sure more chocolate comes from people who lovingly produce it and who are well-compensated for their hard work, these loans are for you.

(We're sorry if they're all gone -- we knew they'd be popular! But we'll post more soon so stay tuned).

Have questions about Maya Mountain Cacao? Send them our way at