Gambia: Gift Turns Into Gain With First ‘Made in Gambia’ Chocolate Bar

What started as an idea to impress his wife has become an ambitious business venture for one Gambian entrepreneur, who wants to transform his small chocolate production operation into the country’s own cocoa industry.

Using cocoa plant seedlings from his Ghanaian employee John Addai, Gambian businessman Fady Hocheimy made a chocolate surprise for his wife for Valentine’s Day.

That was three years ago. The first one did not turn out so well, he says, but after many unsuccessful attempts, Hocheimy says it made him more determined to better his craft.

Hocheimy now produces 21 bars every three days — not bad in a country that does not produce or grow cocoa in any sort of industrial quantity.

“I will continue to perfect what am doing,” he tells RFI’s Africa Calling podcast. “If nobody wants to buy my chocolates, I will still make chocolate for myself.”

His new product, FH Bites, is a 70 percent organic chocolate bar, with different flavours. The latest is mint, which is set to be launched in December. The 50g to 100g bars will be put on sale in supermarkets as part of a Christmas promotion.

The sole distributor of FH Bites is Fresh Farm, an online and delivery shop in downtown Banjul. It’s a popular product, according to manager Modou Njie, who says they sell $100-worth of chocolate a week. And customers want more.

“The demand has been growing especially among the online buyers,” he says. “People are really curious, some of them just can’t believe that you can have Gambian chocolate processed or even grown here by Fady,” he says.

Most of the world’s chocolate comes from farms across West Africa, with Ghana and Ivory Coast producing more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans.