Alexis Kalinda started Lowa chocolate factory, Democratic Republic of Congo’s first locally owned chocolate factory from his family kitchen and the journey had been an amazing one.
He heads the Lowa chocolate factory, based in the country’s North Kivu province.
Alexis Kalinda grew up farming mainly coffee so as to help the family put food on the table. It was therefore expected that he would tilt toward the coffee industry. Instead, he became fascinated with the cocoa value chain.
Though cocoa-producing industry is dominated by Ghana and Ivory Coast and there is an abundance of evidence that these countries have not benefited much from the cash crop aside from these two countries, there are other minor cocoa producers such as Nigeria, Cameroon and DR Congo.
He noticed that food shops were selling chocolate bars and he thought that there was room for improvement in that area, then he decided to venture into making chocolate.
To achieve his purpose, he took possession of abandoned land and started training farmers in cocoa production. He also assisted them to form cooperatives and taught them good farming practices.
From his family kitchen in Goma, Kalinda started his first processing tests in 2013. He further sent samples to the United States for further analyses so as to meet international standards. After it was confirmed in the U.S. that the beans were of good quality, he started his business fully.
Kalinda went on to establish the Lowa chocolate factory in 2019, which he named after a local river where the beans are grown and raw materials for his chocolate factory are sourced from about 500 growers.
So far, he has limited production to 200kg of chocolate per month and he operates with three machines which can only produce 2.5kg of chocolate per day. He is now working to add three additional machines which would allow him to increase production.
Lowa chocolate factory produces bars of 20, 45 and 80 grams, with hints of chilli, ginger, peanut, coffee, black pepper, and roasted bean chips. What is also interesting about Kalinda’s venture is that he does cocoa production sustainably.
Alexis Kalinda wants to link his chocolate to the DRC’s history and biodiversity and he want to show that there chocolate is made with Congolese products for Congolese people. He derives Joy when everyone appreciate the taste of congolese chocolate.