Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate Gives Back with Chocolate Laulima Program

September 9, 2020, 1:06 PM HST · Updated September 15, 3:10 PM
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    Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate is launching a new program called Chocolate Laulima, that gives back to the community with every sale. This cooperative program was developed by MKEC Founder and CEO Dr. Gunars Valkirs as a way for both the chocolate factory and Maui nonprofits to benefit, in spite of the limitations imposed by COVID-19.

    Through Chocolate Laulima, supporters to Hawai‘i nonprofits can go to MKEC’s website and order bags of 50 or 25 5-gram individually wrapped chocolate pieces for $50 or $25 per bag (+ shipping). Under MKEC’s Chocolate Laulima program, the total amount for each bag sold is split 60/40 – 60% (or $30) is retained by MKEC and the difference of 40% (or $20) is returned to the nonprofit.

    As an example, if MKEC sells 1,000 bags of the $50 bags on behalf of the nonprofit, the nonprofit will receive $20,000 in donations from MKEC.

    “The nonprofit community has lost much of its fundraising ability, because no in-person fundraising events are possible for the foreseeable future,” Valkirs said. “At the same time, MKEC has lost almost all of its wholesale business potential with the hotels closed and no visitors from outside Hawai‘i.

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    “The mission of our company is to give back 100 percent of our net profit, but we are not yet making a profit, so we have been brainstorming how we can give back to the community but also build our customer base until we realize profits. The Chocolate Laulima cooperative program is a fantastic solution,” he said.

    Soon after creating the program in late August, MKEC immediately had five nonprofit organizations on board.  With the official launch of the program over Labor Day weekend, MKEC now has 12 nonprofits confirmed, including: Grow Some Good, Hawaiian Humane Society, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Hui No‘eau Visual Art Center, Imua Family Services, Lahainaluna High School Foundation, Lions Clubs of Maui, Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Maui Arts League, Pacific Cancer Foundation, Theatre Theatre Maui, and Whale Trust Maui.

    How does Chocolate Laulima work? Each nonprofit is responsible for promoting Chocolate Laulima among 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% of all sales for each participating nonprofit are paid as donations to each nonprofit. Sales, accounting and delivery are handled by MKEC.

    Valkirs founded MKEC in 2015, based on the belief that the company must fulfill its “Chocolate Kuleana”—the responsibility and privilege to give back to the community in which the chocolate is made. The company’s business model originally relied on Corporate Partners. These hotels and restaurants make up MKEC’s wholesale market chain by purchasing gift boxes for retail sales and customer amenities and buying chocolate for their restaurants. Based on each partner’s sales volume, MKEC distributes pro-rated net wholesale profits to the nonprofits selected by that partner.

    Corporate Partner collaborations continue, but the company reports that capacity is severely diminished due to COVID. Valkirs is hopeful that Chocolate Laulima can provide not only a benefit to the chocolate factory and to local nonprofit organizations, but that the benefit has even more direct results, as all money raised stays in Hawai‘i and mostly on Maui.

    Dennis Elms, Factory and Technology Director, works tirelessly to keep MKEC’s chocolate production and factory running efficiently. He’s proud to be a part of the team to develop Chocolate Laulima, a fundraising program for Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate and Maui nonprofits that allows both parties to work together to raise money. PC: Lisa Foth, Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate

    MKEC CEO Gunars Valkirs with MKEC farm team – Jayse Yagi, Palani Wright and David McPherson, farm manager, – with bags of cacao beans. These will be prepared for the company’s Ku’ia Estate product line which is Made in Maui. PC: Lisa Foth, Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate

    Dennis Elms, Factory and Technology Director, works tirelessly to keep MKEC’s chocolate production and factory running efficiently. He’s proud to be a part of the team to develop Chocolate Laulima, a fundraising program for Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate and Maui nonprofits that allows both parties to work together to raise money. PC: Lisa Foth, Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate

    Maui Kuʻia Estate Chocolate. PC: Courtesy.

    Maui Kuʻia Estate Chocolate. PC: Courtesy.

    Maui Kuʻia Estate Chocolate. PC: Courtesy.

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