ÓBOLO is the culmination of experiences, inspirations and travels that started with a 3-month vacation to Chile that ended up lasting for much, much longer. It comes from a backpacker’s discovery of the flavors, aromas, and colors of Latin America, and his introduction to the people who care for them. Inspired by these travels, Mark Gerrits moved to the Ecuadorian Amazon to work for three years with cacao-growing communities across the region. It was there that he first fell in love with the art of transforming fresh cacao beans into chocolate. Mark carried this enthusiasm into a new career with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest environmental conservation organization.
Upon returning to Chile in 2003, Mark continued to cultivate his passion for chocolate, his strong bond with Latin America, and his firm commitment to social causes and environmental sustainability. One day it occurred to him – Chile is in South America, relatively close to the Amazon Rainforest, which is the biological birthplace of the cacao tree. Why not ethically source sustainably-produced cacao beans, import them to Chile, and craft an authentic, pure, and high-quality chocolate? Such a chocolate would have a far lower environmental footprint – and a far more positive social impact – than the massive amounts of industrial chocolate imported every year from Europe to Chile. This “aha moment” spurred Mark into challenging himself with a new goal: to prove that world-class chocolate could indeed be “Made in Chile”.
A decade later, with a heart full with the birth of his daughter Emma, Mark realized that to live up to the challenge of crafting world-class chocolate in Chile, he needed the highest-quality cacao bean. Thus Mark began to travel to Peru to visit different areas of production and identify the best beans the natural rainforest could provide. Moreover, Mark spent many trips meeting with farmers and cooperatives to gauge their social and environmental commitments. Finally, in 2013 and at his home in Santiago, Mark produced his first batch of chocolate. Over the next couple of years, Mark’s hobby of bean-to-bar chocolate making grew to something larger. In 2015, Mark retired from TNC in order to throw himself full-time into pursuing his bean-to-bar dream.
ÓBOLO is more than a chocolate brand or a family business; it is an extension of the life and values of a man’s passion for social and environmental causes. ÓBOLO is the result of someone’s decision to bet 100% on a chocolate dedicated to making people happy