Hi there. I’m Mara Trager Tcheunou and together with my husband, Patrick Tcheunou, we are the co-founders of Smart Globe International and Bibamba. Bibamba is a product line presented by Smart Globe International. SGI was founded with the intention to sell cacao wholesale... Then, we dreamt up Bibamba.
Patrick and I met by chance at a social event in Denver and currently live here with our beautiful 7 and 5 year old sons, Julien and Isaac. We love the sunny climate, taking walks to the many parks in our neighborhood, and hanging out downtown. We live close to good friends and family and feel that we’re in a great community for our family and our business.
From California to Cameroon (and Many Places in Between)
I was born and raised in San Pedro, California with my younger brother and parents. As a kid I continuously had creative business ideas, such as a birthday card service and trying to sell my stamp designs to the U.S. Postal Service. These were not fruitful endeavors, but the entrepreneurial spirit has been inside of me for decades. I’ve been a longtime Francophile and started teaching myself French before I took it in school. Though I am still not fluent, I am comfortable being in foreign places and communicating with people in different countries throughout my travels. My zig-zagged career path, which has included restaurant management and museum education, has led me to owning my private practice where I conduct psychotherapy with children and families. I have always felt a deep desire to help people and created Smart Globe’s business model to include giving back and positive social impacts.
Patrick grew up in Cameroon (west-central Africa) with his parents and five siblings. Though he was mostly raised in the city of Edea, he spent weekends and summers in rural Cameroon tending to his family’s farms. Crops included maize, peanuts, tomatoes, plantains, bananas, yams, sugar cane, coffee and more. Patrick developed a great love for the cycle of farming, harvesting and processing crops. This in turn has motivated him to build a profitable business while also protecting the environment and using sustainable farming techniques.
When Patrick was 28 years old he ventured to the United States for the first time to pursue higher education. Since he grew up speaking French and other tribal languages, this required Patrick to learn English in a hurry. He spent 6 months in an intensive English language program in Washington, D.C. before heading off to Colorado State University then the University of Wyoming to pursue a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering.
Patrick’s idea to start our company originated after hearing a piece on NPR about coffee being the second most consumed commodity in the world after oil. He also learned that world global production is decreasing because of climate change and aging farms and farmers. His mind wandered to his growing up years and his history of coffee farming with his family. Patrick and I had often talked about wanting to form a family business where we could build something for us and for our children. Brainstorming sessions and talks with his family still living in Cameroon ensued to test out this idea of his. We learned about the import/export business and landed on the notion that farming the coffee ourselves would greatly improve quality control before export. Similarly, we added cacao to our business plan after reading a report put out by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation professing that a world chocolate shortage is expected to arise in the next several years, also mainly because of climate change. Patrick knew that Cameroon is one of the top-producing cacao countries in the world. Quick to solve a personal problem, that his favorite food would vanish, Patrick was inspired to add cacao farming and production to our portfolio.
We further educated ourselves about both the coffee and cocoa growing industries and realized that we would reduce risk if we farmed both commodities, in case one crop performed poorly in a certain year. Farming both crops would also allow us to increase the positive social impact of our business.
Our Project Description
The Smart Globe International project began with purchasing 1,000 acres of land in Cameroon. Half of that land is located in the Northwest region where the high altitude is prime for growing Arabica coffee. The other half of the farmland is located in the Center province of Cameroon which is well-suited to growing cacao trees. Other crops, such as plantains, bananas, and peanuts have been strategically planted with the coffee and cacao in order to provide shade, repel pests, and to add to the biodiversity. This approach of planting diverse crops within our main yields highlights our commitment to sustainable farming.
Bibamba - Company Update
Our dream to create jobs for Coloradans while elevating our Cameroonian cocoa through the production of chocolate goods has become reality. In 2020 our cacao farm produced our first harvest and we introduced SGI’s first product line, Bibamba, in August 2020. As of February 2021, Bibamba is sold in over 50 small business retail locations in Colorado, and has been sold in several farmers and holiday markets. Our dark chocolate bark is made with natural ingredients and unique crispy inclusions including: plantain crisps, coconut crisps, and ground roasted coffee. We are so grateful for our amazing family and friends who have supported us with sampling the chocolate and spreading the word about Bibamba.
Presence in social media, who we hope to reach, and how you can help!
Patrick and I intend to connect with other people passionate about sustainable farming, social impact investments, and coffee and chocolate lovers! We hope that this article has piqued your interest about us and our company.
How can you help? The cacao farmers in the chocolate industry are battling low wages, demand for child labor, and unsustainable practices that are leading to climate change. When you purchase Bibamba chocolate, you are purchasing more than irresistible chocolate, you are helping raise the standards of the chocolate industry. Bibamba is committed to sustainable practices on our farm in Cameroon, and supporting local suppliers and businesses in Colorado. We encourage you to share our story with your friends and family. Please be in touch and stay up to date on our social media platforms.
As always, comments and questions are welcome below.
Patrick and Mara Tcheunou