Olón is a special place. Situated between the Pacific ocean and Ecuador’s lush Cloud Forest, the town’s stunning natural beauty, vibrant local culture and famous hospitality have helped the area to become a popular tourist destination.
Welcoming guests from across the globe, Olón’s tourism trade, while lucrative and thriving in its heyday, led to the decline of other important local industries, and caused the health of the local economy to become increasingly dependent upon the money that visitors would spend over the course of their stay.
From the beginning of 2020’s coronavirus pandemic, Olón’s ability to economically adapt to the global decline of the tourism industry has become increasingly strained. Deprived of the town’s major source of revenue and investment, locals of the area are being forced to find new jobs and opportunities in order to support themselves and their families; a painful experience that has compelled many within the area to address the precarity of the base upon which the town’s pre- coronavirus economy rested.
Helping the efforts of Olón residents to diversify their local economy, and therefore reduce their future reliance upon the tourism industry, Juntos por Olón, a local charity, has provided an invaluable source of practical and material support to the town’s embattled residents. Facilitating the development of a more robust, diversified local economy, Juntos por Olón work to support the creation and growth of both new and existing businesses in the region, providing a source of training, advice and investment that would otherwise be unavailable.
By reducing Olón’s reliance on the tourism sector, Juntos por Olón aren’t just helping the region to weather the worst of the coronavirus pandemic; they’re helping Olón’s residents to build a new, dynamic future for themselves and their families.
Chocolate for Change
Our partnership with Juntos por Olón, ‘Chocolate for Change’, began at the beginning of 2021, and has already delivered promising results. Launched as an attempt to both support existing cacao farmers in the Olón region and to help train a new generation of chocolate growers, Chocolate for Change has been able to deliver fermentation boxes and drying beds to our new friends in Ecuador. We’ve also been helping these farmers to access practical training that will help them to improve the final products that they ultimately bring to market, a form of assistance that will increase their overall revenues and safeguard these businesses as they grow into the future.
With this assistance, the cacao farmers of the Olón region can become more financially independent and diversify their source of income.
One of the most fulfilling and enjoyable parts of this project has been the opportunity to meet and work alongside the farmers of Olón. We’re beyond thrilled to have been able to support their dreams of making a success of their local industry, and will continue to do everything in our power to help small cacao growers in the region to operate with agency and autonomy.
With the help of talented chef Mariana Chavez and Origin Coffee Roasters in Cornwall, our last fundraiser, a chocolate dessert tasting evening was an incredibly encouraging success. We hope to build upon this success over the course of 2022, and will continue to update you as we progress along this journey.
We can’t thank those who have already supported us enough. We’re incredibly honoured and excited to play a part in Olón’s success and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.