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Theo and Brom: Philippine chocolate in Belgium


You may not know this, but the scientific name for the cocoa tree is actually Theobroma cacao. Myey Flores-Moens took that word apart to create Theo and Brom, giving this name to her own line of chocolate with its unique mix of Belgian and Philippine culture. “I’m celebrating both my Philippine roots and also my new home in Belgium.”

Myey uses Belgian chocolate-making expertise to produce tableya, a traditional Philippine chocolate delicacy. Tableya is a dark chocolate product usually rolled into a cylindrical shape and sliced into little discs, and can be eaten solid, or melted into a chocolate drink. From the outset, Myey knew her key customer base would be expatriate Filipinos. “This product is very nostalgic. For Filipinos everywhere, it brings back memories from childhood.” Based in Ghent, Myey sells her products exclusively via ecommerce and the US and the Philippines are her biggest markets.

Her entrepreneurial spirit comes from her childhood: being the eldest daughter, she became a breadwinner for her family in the US when her father passed away when she was 18. But starting up her own business when she moved to Belgium in 2018 was a challenge at another level… “Starting up your own business isn’t easy. There’s the anxiety that never ends, the fear of the unknown. It’s a big challenge and it’s humbling I guess. But at the end of the day, it’s all well worth it,” Myey explains. The first step to starting up was finding a cacao consultant and a good chocolate-maker. “It was hard finding someone to believe in the idea”, admits Myey, “but contact after contact, I eventually found someone who shares my interest in sustainability and that helped to get the business off the ground.”

Theo and Brom uses only cacao beans from the Philippines, and pays for cacao three times the bulk market price to support sustainable development for farmers. “We see the farmers as partners and want to make sure we have a positive impact on them in our own way,” she adds. The start-up also supports employment in the local area, by outsourcing packaging to a social packaging workplace. Then there’s the financing. The initial start-up funds came from Myey’s husband, but within 3 months, she had reimbursed that amount and was looking for additional financing to boost production. This came in the form of an EU-guaranteed loan from microStart, backed by the EIF under the Investment Plan for Europe. Business is now in full swing, with a new line out for family gatherings over Christmas 2019.

“As a female entrepreneur with an immigrant background, sometimes it feels like people make assumptions about what I can and can’t do and it might feel like the odds are stacked against you. But right now I’m doing great. I’d love to be a champion for female entrepreneurs,” she concludes.

Company: Theo and Brom (Belgium)

Type of business: food & beverage

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument, EFSI

Financial intermediary: microStart

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Belgium, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/be/index.htm


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