Episode 21: Corinne Joachim-Sanon-Symietz Entrepreneur, Co-Founder & CEO of Les Chocolateries Askanya
Description: Corinne Joachim-Sanon-Symietz is co-Founder and CEO for Les Chocolateries Askanya. With a degree in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan & a Wharton MBA, as well as drive, determination, and a love for her homeland, she launched Haiti's first specialty cacao bean-to-bar chocolate company, with products 100% grown and made in Haiti. In this Well Tempered podcast episode we look closer at: the impact her company has had on locals (especially through employing and empowering women), producing in a tropical climate & outside of the standard capital of industry/transportation, Port-au-Prince, as well as becoming an improbable chocolate entrepreneur.
- Childhood memories of traditional Haitian drinking chocolate
- The devastating January 2010 earthquake* and how it impacted Corinne's family, life, and entrepreneurial direction
- Building out a factory and training a team inside a residential house in Ouanaminthe, Haiti (north-eastern portion of the country on the border with the Dominican Republic)
- Logistics of making and shipping chocolate in/from a tropical climate
- Askanya currently has 10 full-time employees, 9 of their production staff is female
- Creating diversified opportunities for farmers, incentivizing them and future generations to maintain the heritage of sustainable agricultural cultivation
- The launch of her additional company G&S Cacao, focused on sourcing from 450 subsistence farmers in rural areas and collectively fermenting on-site; this set-up is accelerating producers' income to middle class by paying them ~6x more than bulk cocoa cost
*we talk about the loss of life in this episode. If you have children or those sensitive to this material nearby, consider wearing headphones/earbuds.
Corinne's goals in building the business:
1) Transform a Haitian agricultural crop
2) Create blue collar jobs for a population that is ready and willing to work but has historically lacked tangible and fair opportunities
3) Decentralize and diversify from logistical hub Port-au-Prince
(Haiti produces 1% of the world's cocoa, exporting 4,400 tons a year; it was at its peak in the 1960s with 22,000 tons of cacao exported each year. Source: GreenBiz. Projects like Corinne's not only have the chance to increase production, valuing cocoa at a higher price than usual, but will keep more cacao in country for personal consumption.)
- Haitian hot chocolate utilizing artisan/rustic cacao with anise and cinnamon. Chocolat pays (of the Haitian terroir), also known as chokola peyi in Haitian Creole (such as this recipe).
- Other entrepreneurs changing the artisan landscape in Haiti; MyaBel craft cocktails & condiment sauces, Yve-Car Momperousse CEO and co-founder of Kreyol Essence
- Askanya evolved from Aschersleben, Germany, Corinne's husband's hometown & geography of Troy
Mentors and consultants for Askanya:
Chloe Doutre Roussel
Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe & Cacao de Origen, Venezuela
Charley Wheelock, Woodblock Chocolate, Oregon
Dan O'Doherty Cacao Services
Follow Askanya & Corinne:
Askanya's (multi-language) website
Askanya on instagram
Askanya on Facebook
Askanya on Twitter
I love podcasts as it might be evident! One of my absolute favorites is 'On Being' with Krista Tippett. Just before launching this episode, a beautiful interview with flutist/musician Nathalie Joachim was released, 'Songs of Haiti's Women'; check it out, as an amazing complement to Corinne's episode.