Choko Lakay is a Haitian company founded in 2016, renowned for the processing of organic, fair trade, sustainable and profitable cocoa. Located in the commune of Cap-Haitien in the department of Nord, the company brings together more than 200 rural women who specialize in the production of cacao.

The company has worked in aromatherapy and in the food industry and offers a range of premium quality chocolate products: cocoa powder, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cocoa nibs, cocoa tea, chocolate bar; soap, massage oil, and coca-based lip balm. The aim is to promote the cocoa sector and its exports and to add value to the cocoa/chocolate value chain and the sustainable development of agribusiness. The company has a social commitment and participates in social and cultural activities. Choko Lakay works on “Transparence Cacao”, a project in which the company liaises with a cooperative that groups at least 200 cocoa producers from various regions in the north of the country, mostly women. “With this project, we work on social responsibility with producers, by providing them with training in cocoa processing and production that will enable them to increase the productivity of their plantations,” explains Brisly Germeus, owner of Choko Lakay.
The company is committed to environmental protection. “We use natural gas instead of coal or wood,” says Brisly. “In addition, we use biodegradable packaging.”

Choko Lakay is one of the SME beneficiaries of the “Support for private sector development through investment promotion” project, a project being implemented in Haiti by Centre de facilitation des investissements en Haïti (CFI-Haïti) with support from TFO Canada and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank .

After several months of preparation and hard work, Choko Lakay successfully completed its first export to the Canadian market in July 2023! The products were exported to Montreal, and the process was successful and well planned. The company is grateful for TFO Canada’s support throughout this experience: “Before, as an SME, we thought it was difficult to export to Canada, and we didn’t know what to do,” explains Jheline Avrilien, General Manager of Choko Lakay. “But now we have learned that you just need to plan properly and be well-informed, to understand the market in advance. With the training we received from TFO Canada on export planning, we did everything exactly in order, and the products arrived in Canada and the customers received the merchandise and their invoices. Everything was well planned, nothing was difficult because we received complete training.

Also, with the experience at SIAL, we talked about our projects, our company and our country with people we met from all over the world. After this great experience, we see that we have no limits.” “A great service that TFO Canada offered us was the guidance on packaging”, adds Avrilien “In Haiti, we can’t really have good packaging. We must [adapt] to different markets and be able to innovate. TFO Canada provided us with training from a packaging expert during our first trip to Canada in November 2022. This enabled us to work on and improve our packaging for export. It was a great experience and it really helped us, emphasizes Avrilien.

During this first visit to Canada, Choko Lakay benefitted from a market familiarization tour in Montreal organized by TFO Canada that allowed it to assess the Canadian landscape for processed foods. According to Brisly, “The experience with TFO Canada is a very enriching one for Choko Lakay. TFO Canada provided experts in export planning. Thanks to this training, we understand how to plan for successful exporting and we succeeded in our first export. We understood how to enter and operate in the Canadian market and the difference between the Canadian and other markets”. Choko Lakay participated as an exhibitor at SIAL Toronto in May 2023. “Our greatest recent success was the participation in the SIAL trade show in Toronto”, notes Brisly, “it was a great experience that enabled us to see how innovation works in the cocoa sector. The trade show gave us confidence in the international market and credibility thanks to the support of TFO Canada.”

TFO Canada is pleased to see the implementation of strategies provided during trainings to SMEs, and to enhance the access of these companies to international markets through participation in trade fairs. We are committed to gender equality through our work by creating sustainable business partnerships for exporters from developing countries. We would like to thank Mr. Brisly Germeus, the owner, and Ms. Jheline Avrilien, the general manager, for sharing their experiences.