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Young Chocolatier Making Giant Strides

Young Chocolatier Making Giant Strides
November 01
14:05 2019

Amara Ack, 17, of San Miguel Village in the Toledo District is aware of just how important her education is and the role that it will someday play in empowering her as a young aspiring businesswoman. It is with that focus that she gets up every day and toils on her family-owned chocolate farm in an effort to pay for her college tuition.

Ack confessed that because she has to work for every penny, she has learned the value of hard work and how to appreciate its fruits. She has also learned to take her education seriously in the hopes that someday she can become a local hotel owner and that her associate’s degree in the tourism field can help her achieve that goal.

Ack, a first-year student at the University of Belize Punta Gorda campus, might look normal among her peers in the school setting, but what is different about her is that unlike others who are privileged in getting their tuition fees paid for by parents or sponsors, she has to get up every day and toil alongside her parents and younger sibling on their chocolate farm so that she can pay her tuition.

For Ack, that means that on a daily basis, whenever she is not at school, she is one of the driving forces behind “Junajpu Chocolate” which produces locally handmade chocolate bars from the humble village setting. The family works together to carefully craft their signature chocolate brands in flavors such as milk, ginger, coconut, orange and dark chocolate which would be packaged and sold to local hotel buyers and tourists.

But the journey for Ack doesn’t just start there, and instead includes her dedicating her weekends to help her father and brother weed out bushes from among their cocoa plants. As carefully as possible, the group would then spread fertilizer around the plants while at the same time ensuring that they keep their products as organic and pesticide-free as possible. When the cocoa nuts are ripe for harvest they are extracted, dried and roasted over the fire so that they can attain a smoky taste.

From there Ack and her mother would offer tourists and even locals a walkthrough of how the cacao beans are manually ground on a traditional stone tool to produce chocolate. The package deal would also entail a tour of the family’s cocoa farm and a fresh serving of caldo to seal the deal.

Ack told the Reporter that “I use the proceeds from the sales to pay my school fees and also to pay for my younger brother’s school fees. Actually, the business is for my mom because we believe in women empowerment. So she owns it but I would help out, and we would make the chocolate together and then my dad is the one that manages it. It’s a family business and so we just help out each other. I am in charge of the finances, bookkeeping and keeping the business going.”

Ack told the Reporter that being instrumental in her family’s success has taught her to believe in women empowerment and that women can helping out their families by using the skills that they have. She urges young aspiring entrepreneurs like herself to pursue their abilities and skills despite setbacks and to always honor their family bonds.

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