MIA has launched a Girls’ Education Fund under its 1 for Change impact programme to support vulnerable African students so they can achieve their potential. Sponsored students receive a monthly stipend to fund school fees, a healthy school lunch and basic healthcare.

The first two recipients are secondary students in Antananarivo, the highlands capital of Madagascar. Nadine (left) and Viviane (right) are both in their last year of secondary school when they take the critical exams that determine if they can pursue university studies.

 

     

 

Irenée, Director of the UK charity implementing the Girls’ Education Fund explains the situation in Madagascar: “Decades of under-investment, exacerbated by a political coup in 2009 caused the national education budget to fall from US$82 million in 2008 to just $14.9 million in 2012, and the situation has not improved much in the meantime. Government inability to pay teacher salaries has led to the imposition of school fees. As a result, school enrollment has significantly decreased, falling as low as 55 percent in some areas. Of every 100 children who start primary school only 33 make it to secondary school.”

Girls are the most impacted by the education crisis in Madagascar because they are the first to be removed from school to assist with domestic chores and support family income. The Girls’ Education Fund aims to combat this negative trend and to demonstrate the value of girls’ education.

MIA Co-founder Sarah comments on the new initiative: “MIA is about proving that African communities can craft delicious value-added food on the one hand and bringing positive benefit to communities beyond our supply chain on the other. And in delivering on these promises we want to make the human connection between consumers and producer communities. Knowing how valuable education has been in my life, both professionally and personally, I am really excited to see MIA support the academic journeys of young women in Africa!”

Asked about their aspirations, Nadine explained that she wants to become a doctor while Viviane would like to get a university degree in English. Madagascar greatly needs young people trained in medicine and English, so both students will have a lot to give back to their communities and country when they get their degrees.

In addition to supporting the lives of young women with great potential, the Girls’ Education Fund contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5 for Quality Education and Gender Equality respectively.

 

 

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Further Info — Learn more about MIA impact and support of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the 2019 Impact Report: https://www.miafoodie.com/2019-impact-report/

If you are interested in sponsoring a vulnerable student in Madagascar you can learn more at https://moneyformadagascar.org/

Any entrepreneur knows that it’s not easy to find investors who share the founders’ vision for the company. It’s even more difficult to find investment partners ready to stand behind early stage social (impact) businesses. Encouraging more social impact investment and harnessing the power of good are what inspired Gamil de Chadarevian to join forces with Giuseppe Dessi to create GIST, Global Impact Solutions Today.

GIST aims to make impact investments a more recognised investment class and inspire wealth managers to put more of their funds behind businesses that deliver results while leaving a positive mark on people and planet.

In an interview with MIA, GIST founder Gamil de Chadarevian shares his insights, why GIST invested in MIA and what the organisation has planned for the future.

 

     Gamil (far right) and Giuseppe (far left) receive Proudly Made In Africa Award with co-founder.

Above: 1) Gamil, 2) Giuseppe (far left) and Gamil (far right) join MIA co-founders to receive Award for Excellence in African Industry.

MIA – What inspired you to start GIST when there are many other paths you could have taken following a successful career in biotechnology?

Gamil – I’m a big believer in the power of positive change and I thought we could make a real mark on the impact investing and community and cause-driven businesses, both in terms of the role impact investing plays in larger portfolios and the companies GIST supports as proof of concept.

MIA – Who was instrumental in helping get GIST off the ground?

Gamil – The list of people who have helped is long but one that must be mentioned specifically is Giuseppe Dessi. Even though Giuseppe has his hands full as founder and CEO of Method Investment & Advisory, he has provided the financial support to get GIST off the ground, contributed his expertise to the organisation and is a primary contributor to our annual Investing for Global Impact Report. While I am responsible for developing GIST initiatives and driving them forward on a day-to-day basis, the organisation would definitely not exist in its present form without Giuseppe’s contributions.

MIA – What are the initiatives that GIST has undertaken to date?

Gamil – Since 2014 we have co-authored the Investing for Global Impact Report. The report presents the results of extensive interviews with investment offices to understand their attitudes towards impact investing, how many of these investments they make and how they measure results. The report also allows impact investors to share best practices and success stories, creating a community around impact investing. The overarching objectives are to drive interest and confidence in impact investing while helping the investor community find common measures so they can compare impact returns across different businesses. (Get Investing for Global Impact Reports here: https://gistltd.com/knowledge-platform/investing-for-global-impact-report/.)

Besides generating our annual report, GIST takes a direct financial involvement in scalable businesses that can serve as role models for impact investing. We selected MIA for this programme for its promise to bring four times more revenue to communities in Africa by making finished food products on the continent.

 

GIST also has an equity stake in Carbon Gold, a biochar producer that provides an alternative to chemical fertilisers while helping gardeners and farmers around the world multiply their yields.

MIA – You mention pilot investments as a means to demonstrate that financial and positive impact can be delivered by businesses with a higher purpose. How do you add value to these businesses beyond the financial investment?

Gamil – We support businesses in a number of ways beyond the financial investment. The initial investment is crucial to give start-ups the chance to develop, but we take a long-term vision by uniting a network of investors that can support business growth as activities are scaled up. We also make the GIST network available to support the business. For example, we brought expertise from the GIST network to MIA by arranging for one of our investment partners, Megan Taylor, to join the board. Megan brings a valuable perspective to MIA as she is an experienced business consultant and the founder of Move the World, an NGO that does development work in Africa. Megan’s involvement in Move the World gives her an   understanding of the African setting, which  is valuable to understanding and supporting work MIA does.

 

     

Above: 1) Megan, MIA board member and Move the World founder, 2) Beneficiaries of Move the World development projects with children, facilitators, schools and communities in Ghana. 

MIA  – What does GIST have planned for the future?

Gamil – We will launch a series of catalyst funds to unite the potential and vision we see in the investment and social business communities. The first of these funds is called the Green Impact Catalyst Fund. The fund will focus on co-investing its capital in innovative agriculture, farming and food initiatives and businesses in less developed countries. The vision is to develop a global portfolio of sustainable and replicable investments so we can raise the status of impact investing as a way to realise a financial return while giving something back to the world.

Learn more about GIST at www.gistltd.com

Unlike 99% of chocolate that is made in wealthy nations, MIA makes chocolate in Africa – the world’s poorest continent – to provide sustainable jobs, transfer skills and create four times more revenue than the export of raw cocoa.

In 2019, MIA production addressed eight United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, supported 15 full-time jobs and protected over 5,000 trees in Madagascar.

The MIA ‘1 for Change’ impact programme committed to ‘MIA Green’ to offset CO2 with a tree planting programme and created a ‘Fruit Tree Scholarship’ fund to facilitate secondary school education for vulnerable students.

MIA works with a variety of suppliers in Africa to make products locally. The purpose is to unite a network of the best supply partners around the production of delicious products and to support their businesses in the process.

 

 

The chocolate making team is at the heart of the Made-In-Africa business model that creates value-added products to improve livelihoods. Beyond the production team, each batch of MIA made in Madagascar also benefits the communities that provide the ingredients, materials and services to transform fine flavour cocoa into delicious chocolate.

 

 

Below is a summary of the the social benefit enjoyed by the communities that form a network of 14 local supply partners.

 

 

The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar’s flora and fauna evolved in isolation for millions of years. As a result, the island nation is home to 15% of the world’s species and 80% of all plants and animals found in Madagascar are endemic. Creating sustainable livelihoods that protect the environment while providing local communities with jobs is crucial to save the unique species that live in Madagascar.

Cocoa trees are beneficial for the environment as they form forests and require a shade canopy from a second layer of hardwood trees. These forests form ecosystems for indigenous plants and animals.

 

 

The Sambirano Valley is in Northwest Madagascar, just outside the cocoa capital Ambanja. The Sambirano River extends from the mountainous Upper Valley that lemurs call home to the coastal Lower Valley with rich mangroves forests.

 

 

The Upper Valley is also home to the Tsaratanana Nature Reserve, a park under the highest protected status due to its unique flora and fauna.

Protecting the environment with sustainable livelihoods is crucial to safeguarding the region’s rich natural resources and providing local communities with alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture. 

 

 

In addition to the benefits of value-added chocolate production, MIA dedicates 1% of sales to the ‘1 for Change’ social development programme that can either help protect a local endangered species, create a healthier environment or improve a community’s livelihoods.

 

 

Projects completed in our first two years of trading include a school kitchen for better nutrition, fruit tree scholarships to support secondary education and a reforestation programme to offset CO2, provide environmental education and protect lemurs. The school kitchen benefits 272 students, 50 fruit trees scholarships were awarded and 60 trees were planted to offset CO2.

 

 

MIA is the work of many. In addition to extending our appreciation to our supply partners in Africa, we want to thank the rest of you who make the MIA vision possible.

Customers are creating positive change in Africa with their purchases of MIA at retailers around the world, and it’s thanks to the shared passion of investors, suppliers, distributors and everyone in between that we have the opportunity to bring MIA to market and tell the Made-In-Africa story.

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You can download the full PDF 2019 Impact Report here: https://we.tl/t-ToEtMy30YV

 

MIA has committed £500 of its 1 for Change impact fund to help communities in Madagascar combat the devastation of COVID-19 with hand washing stations, local production of face masks and free meals for vulnerable families.

According to a recent BBC report, Africa has thus far avoided the devastation that COVID-19 has reaped on other parts of the world but the continent faces the risk of serious economic impact. For their part, fair trade CEOs have already called on the G20 Group to support cocoa farmers in developing countries from the worst effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

MIA, a challenger brand with a range of chocolates made bean-to-bar in Madagascar to create more value for local communities, wants to help fight the coronavirus at this relatively early stage when interventions can have the biggest impact. The brand is responding to urgent warnings like the one issued by the British Ambassador to Madagascar, Phil Boyle, who warned in early April that, “The island has minimal health infrastructure, with 10 doctors for every 100,000 people…. If developed countries don’t step up, the humanitarian consequences could be considerable.”

MIA Co-founder Sarah Lescrauwaet explains the project to combat COVID-19: “Africa is the poorest continent in the world and most countries do not have even a fraction of the health and social security means that we have in Europe. In Africa, people have to do their shopping at outdoor markets and many live day-to-day, so stocking up on essential food items is impossible. Needless to say, Amazon home deliveries are not an option. Worse yet, many vulnerable families find themselves sacrificing daily meals because they cannot earn their daily wages.     

    

It’s great that Money for Madagascar and its partners in Madagascar are taking initiative. We’re proud to support their work. Women who are unemployed due to COVID-19 now have jobs making masks, and these same masks will protect first line responders. Additionally, handwashing stations will be set up outside markets to reduce the likelihood of infection where human contact is unavoidable for purchase of staple foods.”

Money for Madagascar also supports vulnerable families that now have face a dual challenge; their children no longer receive a complimentary school lunch and parents now only have half a day to earn a living due to partial COVID-19 lockdown in Madagascar.

Sarah: “We know that the COVID-19 problem is bigger than any single effort but we believe that working together we can make a real difference to people in need, and this is exactly why we created the 1 for Change impact fund when we launched MIA. We want to thank all of our customers for making this project possible with their purchases of MIA chocolate!”

MIA is a chocolate brand that makes products in Africa at the source of the cocoa. The decision to produce locally is made with a clear purpose: to support skilled manufacturing jobs and bring four times more benefit to local communities versus the export of raw ingredients. Part of only 1% of the world’s chocolate that is made in Africa, MIA takes the path less followed. Why would a brand go through all the challenges of making finished products in Africa? Understanding Co-founder Brett Beach’s journey gives us part of the answer. 

The life path of MIA Co-founder Brett Beach has taken him from Europe to the US to Africa and back again. A look back reveals how a series of experiences in these distant parts of the world find a common thread through a chocolate brand that connects consumers in the Northern Hemisphere to the Africa that Beach called home for six years; six years that would shape him forever.  

Born in the UK, Brett emigrated to the US with his mother and siblings when he was three. His life in the US first landed him in the isolated foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where water came from a hand pump and snowy winters made a snowmobile the best transport. At eleven, Brett moved one state away but a world apart from his childhood perspective; Kansas, the centre of the North American Wheat Belt, would be his new home until university.

Childhood in the USA

Beach reflects: “As a child, you don’t know how to verbalise differences in culture, but shortly after my arrival in Kansas I sensed that the rural farming culture was very different from the mix of Hispanic American communities and communal living I had left behind in Colorado. What I subconsciously realised is that adapting and learning from new settings is the best way to make friends and get the most out of life.”

Passionate about sports and at home in nature, Beach had a childhood filled with the outdoors, American football and baseball. Beach: “My passion for sports sometimes bordered on obsession, but I learned a lot about healthy competition, overcoming defeat and determination. These are lessons I took with me.”

After secondary school, Beach moved to Los Angeles where he would graduate from Loyola Marymount University. Beach credits his mother for pursuing a university education beyond Kansas.

Beach: “My mother Marian is a traveller at heart and she knew the value of meeting new people and getting a great education. She took it upon herself to organise an entire trip up the West Coast to meet potential universities. The move and what followed simply wouldn’t have happened without her.

“My mother really valued travel so when I was a kid we toured castles in England, travelled across Mexico in an old train, and journeyed around the tropical island of Puerto Rico. At university, I had the chance to explore the world over again on my own, so I took a study abroad trip to Mexico, visited Europe and then moved to Spain.”

“When I later learned about Peace Corps volunteer service, I immediately knew it was for me. It was a chance to live and work with people on the other side of the world! Before I knew it, I was on my way to Madagascar with zero grasp of the language, less understanding of the culture and limited experience at the task ahead; to teach English to large classrooms of grammar school students.

Brett’s home away from home in his Peace Corps village in Madagascar

Madagascar was a completely different universe, a magical island where nature had evolved in isolation for 60 million years and where the culture and language originated beyond my North American experience. The people were extremely kind and welcoming and the country was full of discoveries.” 

Beach would fall in love with life in Madagascar and followed his two-year stint as a volunteer with four more years in international development projects that took him from the highlands to the coastal Northwest, giving a view of the nation from various perspectives: highland village life, bustling capital, regional city centres and rural fishing communities.  

Ankarana national park in Northwest Madagascar

“I cannot emphasise how much the Malagasy people shaped me as a person. As a culture, they take a really unique approach to life. Patience, respect for elders, reverence for ancestors and indirect communication suddenly uprooted my American directness, change as a constant and a clear division between the living and the dead. The Malagasy people taught me to take a new look at assumptions I didn’t even know I had.”

Beach was so enamoured with Madagascar, its people and places that upon departing in 2006 he brought a bit of the country back to the US with him in the form of a food start-up. Following ten years of work on a specialty food company, Beach decided to move on to another venture that has the vision to of working around the African continent: MIA, short for Made In Africa.

Beach explains: “Africa and its people represent 12% of the world’s population but just 2% of global trade. As a case in point, they produce 70% of the world’s cocoa but make less than 1% of value-added chocolate. There is a huge gap that is created by many global injustices. Paying farmers a fair price is important and going further to manufacture products locally is the way for countries to change the imbalance of trade and help communities help themselves.

Chocolate making team in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Sarah (wife and best friend) and I co-founded MIA with a commitment to make all of our products in Africa because we believe that making delicious food on the continent is the best way to help people help themselves. We started MIA with chocolate made in Madagascar but our vision is to work with talented communities around Africa. With the help of industry partners and the enthusiasm of consumers, MIA is a great way to make the world a better place with products that feel as good as they taste.” 

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Read a Beach’s LinkedIn article that was presented at the 2019 London Chocolate Forum, Creating Unique Impact with a Cause-driven Business:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mia-case-study-creating-unique-impact-cause-driven-business-beach/