BY Dollita Okine, 5:00pm March 22, 2024,

Meet Wezi Mzumara, Malawi’s first and only female chocolate maker 

Wezi Mzumara is a craft-chocolate maker in Malawi. Photo Credit: Instagram, Kwanza Cocoa

Wezi Mzumara is the founder of Kwanza Cocoa, Malawi’s sole craft chocolate company. Upon her return from her stint in the fashion and entertainment industries of the UK, her parents informed her that she would have to farm, almost shattering her ambitions.

She told FoodforAfrika, “My parents said you can do all the entertainment stuff, but you need to farm. I like my mascara, eyeliner and makeup.”

The Malawian still gave the idea a try and went to her family’s property, where she discovered a small cocoa farm with about four trees. There, she considered going into cocoa cultivation.

She expanded and planted 30 more cocoa trees in 2013, despite her initial plan to merely grow and sell cocoa beans. Given that the trees take at least five years to develop and yield, she had plenty of time to return to the entertainment and design industries.

In 2017, when the trees were ready, she decided to turn them into chocolates. She did, however, have some doubts because manufacturing chocolate calls for very sophisticated science. Nevertheless, she was able to try her hand at producing chocolate during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I started learning more about the chocolate-making process. Literally, since then it’s been a journey of product development, testing events, expos, establishing product lines,” Mzumara recalled. “My first slab of chocolate was horrible. And when I say horrible, I mean bitter!”

The trailblazer honed her craft through education and personal development. “Now I am a cocoa farmer, chocolate maker and chocolatier-in-training,” she stated. 

She just recently purchased her first chocolate-making machine. Nine people work for her company, Kwanza Cocoa, which was formally registered in 2022.

She explained the process of making chocolate, saying, “Making chocolate is a lot of hard work. They need to reach an optimum temperature in the fermentation process. After they are fermented, they are dried for about six to seven days, depending on what the weather is like. After that, they are roasted and then they are cracked and they need to undergo winnowing, which is removing the shells from the cocoa nibs.”

She said that this is done to prepare the cocoa beans before the machine grinds and refines them for about two days without a break. This is followed by “the science of making chocolate”, as reported by FoodforAfrika.

Mzumara produces four standard varieties of chocolate: dark chocolate, demarche, milk chocolate, and white chocolate, most of which she supplies to individual clients; she has not yet begun supplying retail establishments, she said last year.

According to Malawi Plus, Mzumara is not only the creator of Kwanza Cocoa but also co-founder of Mzuzu Fashion Week, an event that offers designers, models, and artisans a podium on which to showcase their products.

She managed the fashion week for the first five years before handing it over to her co-founder in 2020, however, she plans to take over again in 2025.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 22, 2024


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