James Pitkeathly // Founder, Moonbean Choocolate
“I have a bit of difficulty with those terms ‘artisanal’ and ‘craft’ when they’re applied to things like bread, because artisanal bakers used to be just called bakers, right?”
This interview is from a series of events, blogs and discussions around the theme of Local or Global.
We’re thinking about localism and globalism in a 21st century context, about the role of the United Kingdom in the world following Brexit, about our identity and what we consider to be our community, and about the way new power, technology and communication structures are changing the way we think about manufacturing, culture and nationality amongst others.
In this podcast, Richard has a chat with James Pitkeathly about his decision to start a business in Uganda and what he has learnt about being a British traveller, teacher – and now chocolate entrepreneur – in lands very far from home.
Following a degree in English from Cambridge University, James Pitkeathly became an expert teacher of English as a foreign language, working around the world both independently and with the British Council as a Teacher Trainer in English.
A few years ago, James settled in Kampala, Uganda, and was appointed the social responsibility manager for a large cocoa exporter. Tasked with establishing a community library in Bundibugyo District, James began to see the power of new locally-run enterprises in building community resilience and supporting sustainable regeneration – but also the disconnect between the raw materials abundant and free-flowing from the area – such as cocoa – and the manufacture of an end product that can be sold for the benefit of the same communities.
James and his wife Denise founded Moonbean Chocolate in 2017, thought to be one of Africa’s first ever bean-to-bar chocolate makers – enabling farmers to work directly with manufacturers, to celebrate Uganda’s role in the story of a global product such as chocolate and opening up new opportunities for education and community work.
Richard has known James for 23 years, but this is the first time that we have spoken about his world adventures, when we caught up in March 2019. The line from Kampala is not brilliant, and was glitchy at times, but stick with it if you can.
Kampala, Uganda (Googlemaps)
Books For Africa
Moonbean Chocolate Facebook
Moonbean Chocolate website
Moonbean Chocolate on God & Wanderlust
Moonbean’s original Kickstarter (crowdfunding) page
Co-working, Uganda –
Design Hub, Kampala
James’ learnings about chocolate –
Choco Museo, Peru (free open chocolate museum)
El Quetzal De Mindo chocolate, Ecuador
Chocolate Alchemy on the art/science of cracking and winnowing cocoa beans
Come and join the debate by joining The Possibility Club for free, find a community of thinkers and find out about our monthly events.
You can also find lots of commentary, expertise and other interviews on the theme of Global or Local – at thepossibilityclub.org
The host was Richard Freeman, and this podcast is produced and edited by CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts.
Thanks for listening. Take care. See you soon.