Working to save the Ecuadorian Rainforest . . .

Jungle Chocolate
Is Twice As Nice!
By Mic LeBel


For many people, buying delicious chocolate that helps protect the Amazon rainforest and its people just isn’t
good enough. While they savor their chocolate, they like to know that their purchase also helps their church, favorite local charity, a town club or another worthy cause. Yachana Gourmet is a unique company that specializes in forming fund-raising partnerships with community organizations. Income generated from sales of Yachana’s Jungle Chocolate supports the participating organization’s cause, as well as Yachana’s mission to provide healthcare, education, rainforest conservation and community development in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

In this era of tight budgets for community organizations, the Yachana partnership program is a creative and fun way for groups to help self-finance their programs and special projects. How does this work? The community organization buys Jungle Chocolate from Yachana Gourmet at the wholesale price and resells it at community events to family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors for their chosen price. The organization earns the difference between the wholesale price and the price at which they sell the chocolate, using these funds to support their own work. Yachana then takes things one step further by donating 10% of the sales from the community organ-ization’s order back to that group, or directly to the organization whose charity work they support.

“The world that non-profits now face is rapidly changing, more competitive, and more formal, and organizations must be creative when seeking financial support, especially when it comes to unrestricted funding,” says Matt Clausen, Vice President of Partnership Development at Partners of the Americas ( ). “Developing innovative self-financing activities like the Yachana partnership is an important part of the effort,” he adds. Currently, many chapters of Partners of the Americas across the U.S. are financing some of their work by fundraising with Yachana Jungle Chocolate.

To date, a variety of church groups, environmental groups, school groups, clubs and other NGOs from across the U.S. have partnered with Yachana Gourmet. “This is a great way for socially-responsible microenterprises that have limited resources to reach customers,” says Charlie Conner, Sales and Marketing Manager for Yachana Gourmet. “Moreover, it allows us to form mutually-beneficial partnerships with like-minded organizations.”

Yachana offers prize incentives to motivate their partner organizations. “We offer free trips to our award-winning eco-tourism facility in Ecuador, Yachana Lodge, to those partners who reach pre-determined goals,” says Conner. Rob Rachowiecki, author of the “Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Ecuador,” described Yachana Lodge as “the best true ecotourism project I have found in 17 years of travel in Ecuador.”

Jungle Chocolate is made from delicious all-natural cacao grown by over 1,200 small family farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It is recognized as a Fair Trade product by the Fair Trade Federation. During the March to July harvest, Yachana Gourmet buys freshly-picked cacao beans at a premium price from small family farms.

After the most aromatic and flavorful shade-grown cacao has been selected, the beans are carefully fermented to bring out their rich chocolate taste. They are then sun dried, slowly roasted, coarsely cracked and finally mixed with just a touch of sugar cane syrup. The chocolate is blended with high-quality natural ingredients to produce four varieties (Pineapple; Brazil Nuts & Essence of Coffee, Macadamia Nut; and Raisins & Coconut) and packaged in convenient 2-ounce re-sealable pouches.

Unlike chocolate bars that are loaded with dairy products and sugar, melted and poured into solid forms, Jungle Chocolate features an innovative consistency made up of pure crunchy cocoa bits that never lose their crunch and don’t melt. Compared to other chocolate and snacks, Jungle Chocolate is low in fat, carbs and sugars, and offers natural chocolate’s healthy antioxidant properties. For more information you may visit the website:


 The future of the Amazon rainforest is inextricably linked to the well being of the native people. In an effort to alleviate poverty and protect the rainforest, Yachana buys shade-grown cacao directly from rural cooperatives and family farmers. That increases the earnings of rural farmers by cutting out exploitive middlemen and by paying Fair Trade prices. They also provide agro-technical assistance and a secure market on which over 1,200 subsistence-farming families can depend.

This economic system is a healthy alternative to the unsustainable land uses that plague other regions of the rainforest such as unregulated logging, excessive cattle grazing and the cultivation of illicit crops such as coca (cocaine).

 “Yachana” means “a place for learning” in the indigenous Quichua language.  Yachana Gourmet supports education, healthcare, poverty reduction, rainforest conservation, and community development projects of the Foundation for Integrated Education and Development (FUNEDESIN). The non-profit FUNEDESIN (a registered 501-(c)(3)) has created two for-profit companies, Yachana Gourmet and Yachana Lodge, to finance its fight against poverty and the destruction of Ecuador’s rainforest.

Yachana Lodge was constructed in 1995 and is nestled on the banks of the Napo River in the tiny community of Mondaña, two hours from Coca by motorized canoe. It is a unique eco-tourism destination that helps travelers understand the environmental and cultural threats facing the Amazon region. The Lodge is the largest employer in the Upper Napo River Region.

Each purchase of Yachana Jungle Chocolate supports FUNEDESIN’s remote Mondaña Health Clinic that serves more than 10,000 men, women and children living along the Napo River; helps to provide education to the region’s youth; and helps to buy and protect Amazon rainforest. FUNEDESIN has conserved more than 3,600 acres of rainforest to date.

To request a Yachana Jungle Chocolate Fundraising Kit or obtain more information, call (800) 272-8408 or e-mail . To learn more about FUNEDESIN and Yachana Lodge, please visit, and


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