Every morning Ernise drops her children to school and makes a beeline for the workshop owned by the Association of Valiant Women of Limonade (RAFAVAL) in the Limonade town center in the Nord department of Haiti. This woman is going to meet up with other members of her association to transform local cocoa into chocolate. The organization operates in the agribusiness sector and offers products derived from cocoa grown in the area to a large and diverse public.
For the members of RAFAVAL, the day begins at 4 a.m. in their respective homes. Then they return to their organization’s workshop to prepare the first sales of the day. From 6 a.m., set up in front of the University of Limonade campus, they sell cups of hot chocolate and other chocolate-based products to workers, university students, school children, laborers, and business owners.
To harvest the cocoa, Ernise and other colleagues go to the agricultural zone surrounding the town of Limonade, a particularly fertile region of the country. Crops such as corn, beans, bananas, tubers, and cocoa provide a source of income in this region, which is undergoing rapid population growth. However, limited access to markets as well as the challenge of adding value to agricultural products continue to seriously constrain the development of agricultural value chains.
“This is what inspired us to establish the RAFAVAL organization,” recalls Ernise Petigny, a founding member of the organization. She continues: “When we launched this venture in 2002, it was very difficult for us. We had very limited resources, but bit by bit we systematically reinvested the proceeds until we were finally able to purchase our land and build the first warehouse as our premises.”