In the following guest blog, Tim McCollum, one of the co-founders of our partner Madécasse, shares the brand’s connection to Madagascar, where Whole Planet Foundation funds microcredit through the Premiere Agence de Microfinance. We’re excited to deepen our partnership through new co-branded chocolate bars!
We want people to know what Madagascar is like. What it’s really like.
We were former Peace Corps Volunteers in Madagascar. We fell in love with the people and country and wanted to do more. So we started making chocolate there. The methods are the same as other chocolate companies, but the motivation is different. And that’s probably why the Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer trip to Madagascar came to be.
Madagascar is a long way away. Imagine an inflatable globe. Then imagine sticking the tip of a pencil through California, right through the center of the earth. The tip would break through Madagascar, clear on the other side of the world.
People lucky enough to visit Madagascar begin to develop their own idea of what the “real” Madagascar is like. Yes, there are lemurs and chameleons, strange trees, white beaches and the translucent Indian Ocean. But there’s more to it than that.
For the Team Members fortunate enough to have been on the trip, the real Madagascar meant that our car broke down, multiple times. It meant we lost track of time and our luggage (and, why not, an iPhone). It meant goats and chickens and the morning Muslim prayer woke us up at 4:30 a.m. It meant our hands blistered from working and our arms swelled from mosquito bites.
But, more than anything, it meant we came face to face with some of the poorest communities in the world, and we greeted them as equals. We helped fix their schools and water wells, and we ate cocoa from their trees. We didn’t see them as less fortunate. We saw them as people who take as much pride in farming their cocoa as we do in maintaining the shelves the chocolate sits on, all the way on the other side of the world.
Personally, this trip reminded me of why we started this business. It took me back to a time when I was a wide-eyed and optimistic volunteer myself, bound and determined to do what I could to help change a small corner of Madagascar for the better. Only this time, Whole Foods Market was along for the ride, with eight unsuspecting volunteers wanting to do their part to change a small corner of Madagascar. It reminded me of the Peace Corps Volunteer in all of us.