CH25: Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Even in a town filled with bright structures, Les Chocolateries Askanya stands out. Haitian-American businesswoman Corinne Joachim Sanon converted her grandfather’s summer home in Ouanaminthe, Haiti into a chocolate factory and had it painted like a parrot, with a vibrant yellow belly on the main walls and electric blue on the trim, like wings. On the inside, the retrofitted factory churns out a flock of colorful chocolate bars with names inspired by local wildlife and fauna. The “Wanga Negese” takes its name from the Creole word for hummingbird that has a double meaning: it’s also a voodoo ritual that’s said to be a Haitian aphrodisiac.

Corinne and her two cofounders—husband Andreas Symietz, an architect with Pei Projects who transformed the four-bedroom country home into a full-production chocolate factory, and friend Alexandra Lecorps—hope that Haiti’s first all-natural bean-to-bar chocolate operation will cast a spell on chocolate lovers at home and abroad. A prime motivator for the Wharton MBA grad in starting the business was the goal of job creation in Haiti. “I grew up middle class, but seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me,” Sanon recalls. “I felt that people shouldn’t just be dependent on assistance, whether it’s from NGOs or USAID, that we should find ways to create jobs.” And with Haitian cacao rated in the top 15 in the world, Les Chocolateries Askanya turned out to be one delicious idea.

Learn more about Sanon and Les Chocolateries Askanya on her CH25 profile.

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Les Chocolateries Askanya