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Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate increases its reach with Chocolate Laulima Program

By Staff | Oct 12, 2020

Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate is partnering with non-profits to help them with marketing and fundraising.

LAHAINA — Good news for non-profits in these trying times: participation in Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate’s (MKEC) recently launched Chocolate Laulima Program has more than doubled!

To complement the growth of this community giveback program, MKEC is now offering an exclusive marketing opportunity for nonprofit participants.

Twelve new participants have joined the 12 founding non-profits for a total of 24 Chocolate Laulima participants, with a few more pending approval.

The new participants include Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui, Habitat for Humanity Maui, Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, Hawaii Life Charitable Fund (administered by Hawaii Community Foundation), Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows (fiscal sponsor, Maui Economic Development Board), Maui Food Bank, Maui Health Foundation, Maui Humane Society, Maui Preparatory Academy and Wisdom Center for Autism.

With the increased participation comes the announcement of exclusive virtual or in-person free tastings for Chocolate Laulima participants to offer to its donors and supporters. The Chocolate Laulima tasting is a 14-piece (individually wrapped five-gram pieces) selection that covers the spectrum of products available in the program with some additional surprises.

A minimum of ten people is required for in-person tastings held in MKEC’s 2,000-square-foot Pavilion. The maximum for these tastings is 30, which can be enjoyed comfortably under current social distancing requirements. For virtual tastings, the maximum is 100 participants.

While the chocolate samples are free, virtual tastings include shipping and handling fees, which the nonprofit will need to cover. Alternatively, there’s no charge if chocolate is picked up at the factory or at a site where MKEC can deliver the samples for the organization to distribute to their participants.

“Tastings are an excellent marketing tool to increase sales of chocolate, which directly increases payback to the nonprofit,” said Dr. Gunars Valkirs, CEO of MKEC. “Chocolate tastings allow non-profits the ability to organize their groups into ‘specialty groups,’ including staff, board of directors, donors, supporters, family and friends, and more. Our records show that once people taste our chocolate, they want to buy our chocolate. We also know that tasting chocolate is engaging and is an entertaining, educational and delicious chocolate experience.”

“It’s an important time to support Hawaii-based businesses,” said Dean Wong, executive director of Imua Family Services. “When businesses such as Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate use their business as a way to help the nonprofit businesses in the community, it’s a win-win for everyone. Now more than ever, due to the impacts of COVID to our economy and health, the needs for our non-profits’ services have increased dramatically. We need to find creative partners in order to sustain our ability to meet people’s needs. And let’s face it — who doesn’t love chocolate?”

When planning chocolate tastings, MKEC staff will work closely with each nonprofit to create a memorable experience, including ideas for food and beverage offerings, gift bags and more.

Valkirs hopes to conduct all of these tastings personally; if he is unavailable, Vice President of Farm and Factory Operations Dan O’Doherty will take the lead.

As the person who travels the world to mentor farmers and source cacao for MKEC, O’Doherty has in-depth, first-hand knowledge about the global cacao industry, and he enjoys sharing stories about his adventures.

How does Chocolate Laulima work? Each nonprofit is responsible for promoting Chocolate Laulima amongst their supporters. MKEC provides a unique webpage to each nonprofit on MKEC’s website through which the customer can purchase products that will be credited to the nonprofit organization. At the end of each month, 40 percent of all sales for each participating nonprofit are paid as donations to each nonprofit. Sales, accounting and delivery are handled by MKEC.

Chocolate Laulima is an innovative program that gives back to the community with every sale. Laulima, meaning “many hands working together,” aligns with MKEC’s founding mission to give back to the Maui community by making chocolate recognized as some of the world’s finest, then donating annually the net profit to Maui’s charities and nonprofit community.

Chocolate Laulima supports secular nonprofit organizations that directly improve the Maui and broader Hawaii community in the areas of education, social services, healthcare, arts and culture, animal welfare, environmental conservation and agriculture. Hawaii nonprofit organizations are invited and encouraged to participate in Chocolate Laulima. For more information, contact Dr. Valkirs via e-mail at gunars@mauichocolate.com.