KCA President Promotes Big Ideas for Local Cacao Industry

Farsheed Bonakdar, KCA President and Owner of Cocoa Outlet & The Chocolate Guy, was one of the eight finalist of the 2017 Hawai‘i Island Business Plan Competition (HIplan), where he competed to win a $25,000 prize that supported a solid Big Island business venture. Each of eight contestants had to give a 15-minute oral presentation as part of the requirement and educate the panel of judges on their business idea. Farsheed was selected as a finalist from a group of 43 island-wide submissions. He passed through a gauntlet of rounds that included a “Shark Tank-like plan presentation and a two-minute elevator pitch in front of a panel of judges. Although the prize was awarded to another local business, Farsheed’s hard work and dedication helped shine the light on the benefits and growth potential of our local cacao industry. Mahalo, Farsheed for increasing exposure to our hardworking cacao farmers who continue to contribute to a growing industry here on Hawaii Island.

What was Farsheed’s Pitch?
Nothing is stopping Farsheed from moving forward with his plans to build a warehouse and processing center for locally grown chocolate. In a recent interview in West Hawaii Today, Farsheed noted his plans if he had won the prize. “The money would help me get a start on architectural plans for the development of a new site I’m planning,” he said. “I don’t have classes anymore, as I don’t have enough space. A new facility would have the space for that, a retail site, agritourism and for cacao processing, as well as eventually Hawaiian chocolate processing.”

Farsheed aka “The Chocolate Guy” has been in the chocolate business here since 2000; and in 2016, his sales topped $1.6 million.  “Hawaii is the only U.S. state capable of growing cacao, and we have strict agricultural pest-protection laws, so we are in a good position to enter the global market.” Farsheed proposal includes building a 6,000 square-foot indoor fermentation and production facility on four acres on Mamalahoa Highway, with a storefront open to visitors.

As president of the Kona Cacao Association, Farsheed helped launch and continues to oversee the annual Big Island Chocolate Festival.  The 2018 event will be held on Friday and Saturday April 28th and 29th, at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. For tickets and information, click here.