Bruges chocolatier to open chocolate factory in DR Congo

The renowned Bruges (West Flanders) chocolatier Dominique Persoone is to build a chocolate factory in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The West Fleming wants to assist local people living in the Virunga National Park to process their cocoa beans into chocolate. The aim is above all to provide jobs and help reduce poverty among the local population.    

Dominique Persoone decided to build the factory in the Eastern Congolese province of Kivu at the request of Prince Emmanuel de Merode, who is Director of the park.     

The Virunga National Park is monkey and gorilla conservation programmes. However, the local population often plunders the park’s natural resource, not least because many locals live in abject poverty.  

Prince de Merode is trying to put a stop to this providing by building factory to proving local people with work and an income.  

Currently cacao beans grown in Kivu are exported at very low prices.

Dominique Persoone told VRT Radio 2 West Flanders "The aim of the chocolate factory is that they produce chocolate and keep the profits themselves”.

The chocolate factory will employ as many people as possible.

"We are going to let them work with their hands and use few big machines. By doing this as many Congolese people as possible will be able to work. There is a lot of poverty in the region and something needs to be done about it”, Mr Persoone added.  

Dominique Persoone adds that he plans to visit the factory a couple of times a year. While in DR Congo he will help train the workers at the factory in the art of processing cacao beans.