“Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. This was this year’s theme of International Women’s Day. Focusing on the innovative ways in which we can achieve gender equality and advance female empowerment. Here at Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, we aim to celebrate all of women’s achievements and fiercely challenge gender bias.

Being listed as a winner for the Innovate UK Project, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham. Her immense success clearly emphasises the fundamental importance of all women pursuing their passion and determination, even in the light of adversity.

Focusing on the theme of innovation, ‘Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates’ pride themselves on finding ways to advance female empowerment, which they aim to do by building a close rapport with their mainly female farmers. They source their best quality beans from the Solomon Islands, where they work directly with farmers to ensure the best agricultural practice. Luisa understands the importance of farmers’ personal needs, and ensures that the female farmers feel empowered. Therefore, buying from them directly, while also using a significant premium market rate, allows the business to fully engage and work equally with them.

A key player in their business is Flora, a farmer whom they directly work with from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Flora is a very driven, passionate farmer, who is extremely proud of her prized cocoa beans. Flora and her farming team help to provide Luisa with the cocoa beans that make her signature chocolate, which she uses for the basis of her truffles and bars. Flora is the driving force for her farming family while playing an important role in the sourcing of Luisa’s signature chocolate, therefore Flora is another very inspiring example of a highly determined and hard-working female.

Luisa admits that she is “excited to work with the female cooperative in Colombia, letting them know what will bring out the best flavour in beans, by monitoring their fermentation process.” She also emphasises that this will be a “learning partnership” with the female Colombian cooperative, with confidence that they will “learn effectively from one another”. Undoubtedly, this is going to be a highly successful project, certain to make a difference to the farmers’ communities, with Luisa also promising to help the farmers “find the right price and the right market for their cocoa beans.”