How engineering and chocolate are building a stronger Haiti, Part 1: Meet Corinne

Corinne Joaquim Sanon, co-founder of Les Chocolateries Askanya and University of Michigan engineering alum, sifts through the dried beans in the drying facility outside of Ouanaminthe. She built the fermenting and drying facility there to properly process cacao beans.
Watch the video to learn about Corinne’s background, what inspired her to start Askanya, and how her industrial operations & engineering degree is helping Askanya succeed.
Corinne Joaquim Sanon, co-founder of Les Chocolateries Askanya and University of Michigan engineering alum, enters the amount of cacao purchased from a farmer into a spreadsheet. Behind her, other farmers wait for their cacao to be harvested. Today, the team will turn some 5,000 cacao pods into 1,600 pounds of raw cacao beans.
A cacao farmer waits for Corinne Joachim-Sanon’s team to buy his harvest.
Cacao farmer Deceus Jean Gilles, 58, climbs a tree to harvest cacao pods for sale to Askanya. Unlike most crops, the vast majority of the world’s cacao is grown by small farmers like Gilles. This makes it a good fit for Haiti, where mechanized agriculture is rare. Cacao is easy to grow alongside other crops and the trees help reforest Haiti’s countryside.
Sanon graduated from U-M in 2006 with a BS in industrial and operations engineering. Before co-founding Askanya, she worked on hog processing lines at Hormel, as a lipstick engineer at L’Oreal and as an IT consultant for Barclays Bank.
Askanya production head James Dobson Belizaire, left, buys cacao pods from a Haitian farmer
Askanya co-owner Corinne Joachim-Sanon (first right) and her workers package chocolate bars at Sanon’s chocolate factory, part of the first bean-to-bar chocolate operation in Haiti.

Part 2: The Harvest

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