Young social entrepreneur pioneers chocolate making in Lanao del Sur


Foundation: Citi Foundation

credit: Wikipedia

When Sittie Aisah Usop Balt was asked by her father in April 2021 to come up with a way to make money from the cocoa beans they had grown in their 3,000-square-meter backyard in Barangay Tagaooran, Bayang, Lanao del Sur in the Philippines, the then-28-year-old high school teacher thought it would be a good idea to watch videos on how to process the pods containing the beans.

She even tried processing the beans herself, but the end product was so bitter she decided to read more about cocoa beans and discovered that cocoa is a high-value industrial crop, with a global demand that has nearly tripled since 1970, reports the Philippine Statistics Authority.

So she started to read more about chocolate, and learned that in the Philippines, Davao region is the leading cocoa producer with a share of 71.2%.

In November 2021, she pitched her idea to the Ranaw Project Grant Program of Lanao del Sur province in partnership with Philippine Business for Social Progress.

Their original prototype was "tablea," a raw material used for hot chocolate, but the day before the pitching competition, they were able to come up with dark chocolates.

Their dark chocolate won fourth place at the grant program and bagged P100,000.

She also hired more people to help

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