When Sittie Aisah Balt and her father harvested their first cocoa beans in their backyard in Lanao del Sur in the Philippines, they didn't know it at the time, but the beans would prove to be an important source of income for the family.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Citi Foundation and a United Nations Development Program program, the 21-year-old has taken that knowledge and turned it into a business: Kakaw Meranaw, which means "sweet and spicy" in the Meranaw language, reports the Marana Times.
The company's products include a sweet and spicy combination of the Meranaw condiment palapao and turmeric, as well as a dark chocolate with hints of vanilla and white chocolate.
The idea for Kakaw Meranaw came to Sittie after she and her father visited a factory in nearby Cotabato and learned how to process cocoa beans, reports the BBC.
She then went on to learn more about the high-value crop, which is used to make everything from chocolate to flour, and ultimately decided to turn her hometown into a chocolate-making operation.
With a grant from the Ranaw Project Grant Program in Lanao del Sur, Sittie shifted her focus to creating a raw material for hot chocolate
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