In early 2010, Shawn Askinosie recruited 13 Central High School students to join him in the identification of a new cocoa origin and eventually on the first trip to meet farmers in the village of Tenende, Tanzania.
Meeting twice a month for six months, the CU 2010 class helped set the course of Chocolate University’s High School Business Immersion experience that still endures. The CU Class of 2010 was instrumental in researching many origin options for cacao beans in Africa. Eventually, the group settled on a women-led farming group in the Kyela region of Tanzania and observed first-hand the procurement the Tenende, Tanzania cocoa beans to create Askinosie’s first African-sourced, single-origin chocolate bar, fully traceable from “bean to bar.” Askinosie still purchases cacao beans from this region through the Mababu farmers today.
In the student led project, the group quantified the drop out problem with data provided by Mwaya’s headmaster. At the time, it showed the retention rate for girls at 46%, while the boys retention rate pushed 82%. CU students theorized factors for girls dropping out of school:
With input from Mwaya’s headmaster, the CU team decided on a three-pronged approach to help at Mwaya: Textbooks, Empowered Girls Club Formation, and better-equipped teachers. The CU 2010 group raised money to purchase math, science and English textbooks for Mwaya Secondary School. The CU students also raised money for a deep water well that provides clean water to the village of Tenende.
We extend a special “thank you” to the 13 students of the very first Chocolate University High School class for helping establish the CU program and planting roots for Askinosie in Southwestern Tanzania that still bear fruit today.