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Color Cacao Colombia

The company

Color Cacao is a unique company that manufactures chocolate products, including decorated and filled chocolates. The manufacturing techniques are handcrafted and based on a careful selection of raw materials in order to achieve an excellent quality final product. The entrepreneur brings the latest chocolate trends in terms of taste and design to Colombia. At the moment, Color Cacao sells its products in souvenir shops and at the airport. It also has corporate customers for which it designs specific chocolate products.

A woman led company

The owner of the company, Ana Margarita Villegas, studied in France 10 years ago to be a professional chef. There she gained good knowledge about the cacao market, the preparation of cacao, recipes and techniques. She obtained a degree in Culinary Arts at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France, one of the world’s most renowned chefs. Ana also studied business administration, and she worked for several gastronomic French restaurants. In France, she realized that the Colombian chocolate market wasn’t good enough. When she came back to Colombia in 2009, she decided to start her own chocolate company, in Medellín. She felt motivated to start working for a more fair Colombian chocolate market.

Ana always wanted to work with other women. The business is directly impacting its female employees (most of them being head of households).

Ana created Color Cacao, a brand that combines the know-how craft, with mixtures of tropical flavors and innovative presentations. In 2011, she changed the legal form of the company to S.A.S (simplified joint stock company). At the beginning of the company, she started producing chocolates in an artisanal way (candies based on cacao).

After a while, she bought machinery to increase her production capacity, but she kept to artisanal processes because it is an exclusive characteristic in the company’s value proposition. Her products are very flexible, and she can customize them based on customer needs.

“ Women have the passion, the delicacy needed to work with chocolate, and the desire to grow professionally and personally.” – the founder and owner of the company – Ana Margarita Villegas


​​The chocolate market in Colombia is ruled by two big companies in terms of prices and quality: Luker and Nacional de Chocolates. Their main aim is to make profit, which in general does not lead to fair prices. Overall, they do not value the efforts of producers to increase the quality of the cacao or to have different kinds of cacao, like organic. As most of the Colombian cacao market is thus covered by the big companies, Ana saw a big opportunity for Color Cacao to grow as a medium-sized company. Where the big companies focus on massive chocolate production with high contents of trans fats and low contents of cacao, Color Cacao focuses on high contents of cacao with good quality. Also, the artisanal chocolate market is an untapped market with a potentially high demand in Colombia.

The impact the programme creates contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals SDG 5, SDG 8 and SDG 12.

Ana highlights the compromise and passion that her employees bring to Color Cacao. Right now, the company has 12 full time employees on the payroll and in the high season the company hires 10 employees as seasonal workers. If the company is able to increase its exports, it has the intention to incorporate these seasonal workers as permanent employees.The company is paying for the raw material 20% above the premium price in the market, with the intention to consolidate a long term relationship with associations and also improve farmer conditions.
• Improving the quality in their plantation (better quality = better price) • Investing in their own plantations • Improving their family incomes in each family (for the moment the company impacted farmers with an increase in 15% of incomes and 5% for the associations). • Improving their fermentation and drying cacao beans techniques to obtain better quality
Truvalu and Color Cacao work together on buying the cacao directly from the small producer farmers.For Color Cacao it means that they can directly communicate with the producers of cacao and work on certificates like organic and fair trade. In the end, the company wants to show the consumer where the cacao comes from: the whole value chain from bean to bar will become transparent.

The uniqueness of the story of this company

The international market

The company has the ambition to grow in the international market as well. Colombian cacao was declared as  ́fine or flavour cacao by the International Cocoa Organization, a category that covers only 5% of the beans traded worldwide. Besides, Colombia has a potential of 2 million hectares for cacao crops, an area that would place the country among the world’s top cacao growers. As such, the conditions to explore the international market are very good. Color Cacao exported before, so they are well-known with the administrative and legal structure to export. Color Cacao also attended international business meetings in Canada and the United States.

A promising growth path

When the company started working with Truvalu 5 years ago, Color Cacao had a turnover of around EUR. 100K basically processing cacao butter and liquor coming from big companies and selling all the production to institutional markets (companies that demand products for special events or give it as gifts). After the business development support received, the company started to implement a new strategy taking advantage of different sales channels, diversifying sales to retail clients, special chocolate shops and exporting to Europe. Nowadays, Color Cacao’s turnover is around 400K and exports represent 50% of the total sales.

The company increased the production capacity from 1 ton per month (and also outsourcing part of production) to 8 tons per month. With its own capacity, it can produce all the products that the company is offering, and it could even double the capacity including an additional shift, if necessary.

The company realizes that they need to strengthen their portfolio to be competitive in the international market. It means that they will need to obtain more certifications (like fair trade, organic production, etc.).

Sourcing directly from farmers
The company used to buy the raw materials from the big companies Nacional de Chocolates and Lucker. However, in the last 4 years Color Cacao has consolidated and new source strategy, buying the raw material directly from cacao associations in different places of the country.

Each associate is a cacao bean producer that has a family of 5 members and works in average with 3 people. These 3 people can be part of the family like brothers, wife and adult sons. Each plantation in average has 3 hectares that actually produces 600 kg of cacao beans per year. The company just closed a new alliance with Afromuvaras, an organization in Putumayo composed of 300 women. An exciting new collaboration.

“Color Cacao is owned and led by a passionate woman. Ana is the general manager and sole owner of the company. Her husband Jorge encourages his wife and supports her in taking the bigger decisions. Ana is always ready for the task and has a hands-on approach to address new challenges, is always looking for new opportunities to keep improving the company towards her mission, and to bring the best chocolate at affordable prices with Colombian cacao. It is an inspiring example of a woman owned and led business.” Andres Jimenez – Managing director Truvalu for South America


Truvalu co-entrepreneurs with Color Cacao.

  • It invested in the machinery needed. It strengthened its commercial and marketing department to target more (potential) customers. Truvalu and Color Cacao work together on buying the cacao directly from the small producer farmers.
  • Truvalu also supports the company to become more prepared for the international market and diversify the national market. With the investment of Truvalu the company will be able to make this happen. Color Cacao started a new acceleration program with Truvalu 6 months ago to prepare itself for a  next phase of further growth.

“In this phase the activities are focused to reach new certification to comply with the international clients request (fair trade, organic and kosher), packaging design and storytelling for the European market and market research in Europe. The implementation plan as a result of the activities mentioned above will be financed as an investment from Truvalu. Both parts have the intention to close an investment agreement before the end of 2022. With this investment, the company can multiply production by 5 in the coming 3-5 years and consolidate a model that proves how a SME can generate direct effects in the value chain and generate impact at an even larger scale.”- Andres Jimenez – Managing director Truvalu for South America

Video Color Cacao