–> Who: Sheikh A. Turay, Founder of…
–> What: …Liberation Chocolate, employs former child soldiers in Liberia by revitalizing abandoned cocoa farms and distributing the chocolate in the U.S.
–> How: Read this synopsis, learn more about Liberation Chocolate, and check out their campaign on Indiegogo.
By Adam Smiley Poswolsky
It is estimated that more than 75% of the population in Liberia lives below the poverty line of $1/day. At the 2012 Unreasonable Institute this July in Boulder, Colorado, entrepreneur Sheikh A. Turay launched his company, Liberation Chocolate, which helps eradicate poverty in Liberia by revitalizing abandoned farms and providing technical, logistical, and financial support to cocoa farmers there. Liberation Chocolate is also creating job opportunities for former child soldiers, contributing to future peace and security in Liberia.
At SOCAP, Sheikh A. Turay was one of 5 entrepreneurs picked out of 100 entrepreneurs that participated in the Impact Accelerator@SOCAP program the weekend before the conference; the entrepreneurs voted which venture best represented an immediate need for $2,000-4,000—SOCAP attendees then chose which entrepreneur out of the five they wanted to contribute to. SOCAP then wrote a check to each entrepreneur based on attendee votes, totaling $10,000.
“Indiegogo celebrates the independent spirit represented at SOCAP, enabling entrepreneurs to start companies like Liberation Chocolate that make a positive impact in the world,” said Bret Harris, who works on strategic partnerships at Indiegogo. ”That is exactly what we’re all about, and our staff were thrilled to lead a breakout session on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign at the Impact Accelerator.”
“Being an Unreasonable Institute Fellow this summer led to me having the opportunity to participate at SOCAP,” Turay explained to me at the conference. “When I left Liberia, I didn’t have the contacts, I didn’t know about the importance of mentorship, I didn’t know how to scale internationally. The impact accelerator this weekend brought us on the Indiegogo platform—and now everyone knows who we are.”
At SOCAP, Turay was able to get in contact with large cocoa buyers in the U.S.—and he is now working on securing a contract for product distribution and securing more land in Liberia to scale his business. When I asked Turay what his advice was for other entrepreneurs starting early-stage projects in Africa and elsewhere, he told me: “Get around the right people, don’t get defeated in times of adversity. People will get excited about your idea, and that will help you scale your impact.”
This article is a part of a series produced at SOCAP12 by New Empire Builders. New Empire Builders is a SOCAP12 media partner.