The Best Chocolate In The World. Collaborative Innovation in The Amazon Forest.
At a dinner by AMD at the World Economic Forum a few weeks ago, I was given a piece of chocolate in the “goodie” bag at the table. It was just about the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten—and I eat a lot of chocolate. It was Kallari Rainforest Chocolate (70% Cacao—medium dark) and it was made by the Kichwa people in the Amazon in Ecuador.
Through it’s 50 X 15 initiative, to connect 50% of the world’s population to the internet by 2015, AMD has been working in small villages in Latin America and Africa. AMD helped set up the Kallari cooperative in Ecuador, “the only indigenous cooperative that harvests, processes and markets our very own line of chocolate,” according to the wrapper on my piece of chocolate. By linking the people to the net, AMD also helped establish a global market for their incredible product.
The chocolate cooperative helps the Kichwa people ward off the pressure of oil exploration and logging in their area--activities which can kill their culture. It has already destroyed the cultures of other indigenous Amazon peoples, including many Achuar Indians. I know this because I've birded in Ecuador, near the Peruvian border, and my guides were Achuar people who were full of stories of their cousins up north, losing their landed, becoming alcoholics and prostitutes. Two years ago, these Achuar were arming themselves for war against the oil prospectors.
The Kichwa of the Kallari villages are using their own form of collaborate innovation and social networking to create organically-grown (no GMOs), delicious chocolates that people can buy in stores all around the world. Check out the store nearest you on the Store Locator online.