Rare & Exotic Specialties:
A Recipe to create butterflies in the stomach

Vonne is a line of packaged rare and exotic foods from around the world that showcase the handmade artistry of indigenous communities to create a unique experience for Western consumers. Our mission is to use these products to provide economic opportunities to indigenous communities in developing countries, by selling artisan foods as a high-end line of private label consumer products to international markets. Our products preserve the integrity of the traditional product, while meeting the current desire for a fusion of global taste and texture sensations. Vonne products will weave Western consumers into the rich tapestry of global culinary traditions while promoting the virtue of a healthy diet by serving two distinct and growing markets, gluten free/health foods and foodie/gourmet. Finding elegant solutions that solve social issues with aesthetically beautiful resolutions can produce triple bottom lines, which tie in people, the planet, and profits together. Vonne believes that its commitment to empowering communities through business makes it attractive to local partners, Western consumers, and international investors. Vonne promotes its mission to empower those who inspire and make our products in three ways: First as an investor, Vonne builds capacities of communities by providing them with sustainable income and employment. Second, as a distributor, Vonne allows entry into the international marketplace for previously underrepresented populations, enabling opportunities for greater economic self-determination. Third, Vonne will reinvest a portion of its profits into entrepreneurial and micro-credit opportunities for its local indigenous communities.


This project was my thesis at Parsons in 2008, it was selected as a finalist thesis and was adopted as a case study for a graduate-level Social Entrepreneurship class at the Milano School of International Affairs, New York. I was invited to present it at The Global Youth Conference at the World Bank in Washington D.C.




Annual increases around 1% and by 5th year of the venture (2013) it will reach $12.353 B “Cookie Category Posts Sales Gains,” in Modern Baking, Vol. 21, No. 2 (February 2007), p. 18. According to data from Perishables Group Inc., cookie sales accounted for 9.1 percent of in-store bakery sales for the 52 weeks ending November 30, 2006. Average sales for each store per week ranged from $533 to $1,035 depending on the region the store was located in.



Rare & exotic foods

from around the world

Vonne will also create an identifiable brand through symbolic language and consistent packaging. While Vonne products will not initially earn Organic certification, it will use language such as “All Natural,” “Supports Small Farms” and “Sustainability Produced” to present the ideals and practices Vonne employs.


Casabe is high in fiber,

& has a one-year shelf life

Our goal is to combine the artisan expression of indigenous producers with the preferences of western consumers, creating a unique culinary experience. Vonne’s first product, casabe, is thin, cracker-like bread made from yucca our. Vonne chose this product because of its versatility, dietary benefits, and significance in Garifuna culture. Casabe is a vehicle for other flavors, making it ideally suited to reach a broad clientele with diverse pallets. Vonne adapts this gluten free product to the tastes of the foodie market by adding contemporary flavors, such as olive oil garlic- herb, chili-lime-parmesan, and cinnamon-orange-cocoa. The Garifuna are among the poorest people living in all of Central America. As the descendants of escaped slaves, who disavowed politics andconflict in favor of artistic expression and peace, the Garifuna receive few government services and earn on average $120 per month per family. Casabe is a staple food for the Garifuna of northern Honduras because the yucca needed for casabe can grow without much fertilizer, in shade, and on marginal land. For the Garifuna women, the production of casaba involves a religious experience that makes this product all the more unique. The 19-step process of making casabe by hand allows Garifuna women to recreate and share the experiences of their ancestors, allowing them


According to the proposed financial plan by the Social Entrepreneurship Class from the Milano School, Vonne will seek financial support from various sources already working with Garifuna women. Our ability to make a profit depends on operating expenses. These costs dictate the amount of stores Vonne must sell its products in. The table below shows the breakdown of proposed sources, totaling almost $260,000, which will cover initial capital costs, general and operational costs and also factor in reserve equivalent to three months of general and operational costs. The sources of funds through which Vonne feels will make the biggest impact on the Garifuna women will be from Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and United States Agency for International Development-Rural Economic Diversication Program (USAID-RED.)

These organizations already have invested money to secure the long term sustainability of the Garifuna through capital improvements and education. Vonne has established the cost of goods based on the wholesale price of the casabe pulp, the production of the casabe pulp into a twice baked and flavored product, packaging the product, transporting to San Pedro Sula and then shipping to the United States. Vonne’s shipping cost takes into account import/export costs and cost of cargo insurance based on a 20’ container. Vonne’s overall financial needs are based in its’ operating budget, with salaries, general and operating, and marketing and promotion. Vonne’s success at securing the good & then redistributing profits rests on its marketing and promotion capabilities. The production of yucca by the Garifuna women will increase as Vonne increases the number of stores to which it distributes.

Vonne’s revenue yield assumptions therefore, directly correspond to the social return that the Garifuna women receive from this venture. The revenue calculations that determine profit and loss for Vonne were established under the assumption that the minimum wholesale purchase will be 24 units, or 1 casepack. A sensitivity analysis was done to measure the amount of revenue that will be realized based on the number of stores that Vonne will do business with and how many casepacks will be purchased. Vonne also established breakeven estimates depending on number of stores and casepacks purchased. Vonne becomes profitable in Year 3 withprofits rising from $71,500 (sales of 200,000 units) in Year3 to $295,000 (sales of 223,000 units) in Year 5. With stable financial projection starting in year 3, and with an initial investment from IADB and USAID-RED, Vonne will reinvest 10 percent of its’ profits into the Garifuna community.

Ensuring that financial needs are met is a crucial step in ensuring Vonne’s committed investment into the Garifuna women. With an IRR of 34%, Vonne will provide a solid investment for its owner as well as a worthy investment to the Garifuna community. The sensitivity analysis below shows several scenarios that Vonne could find itself in: Sensitivity. Reduction of growth assumptions by 2 stores a month sees a positive cash flow remain, a Year 5 net profit of $230,000 and an IRR of 18%.An increase of 15% in cost of goods sees a positive cash flow remain, a Year 5 net profit in excess of $265,000 and an IRR of 21%.An increase from 150 stores 250 stores at launch would see Year 5 net profits at over $385,000 and the IRR rising to 39%.



Social Entrepreneurship
project focused on investing
in Garifuna women casabe
collectives in Honduras

Vonne, is a privately owned company based in Honduras; but at the heart of Vonne’s business model are the strategic partnerships with Garifuna women for their casabe. Vonne will collaborate with El Zamorano to train and educate the Garifuna about higher production methods. Vonne will also enter into strategic partnerships with three Garifuna community building organizations ODECO (Community for Ethnic Development Corporation), OFRANEH (Fraternal Organization for Black Hondurans) and CasaGari all of which already have working partnerships with international funders who provide technical assistance, equipment, and training to contract Garifuna women to plant, produce, and process the yucca and casabe. Vonne will contract for casabe pulp from existing Garifuna casabe producing collectives, which will enable community-building organizations to increase their production capacities by supplying a major stream of revenue. Vonne will then oversee a local bakery/production plant as it flavors and bakes the pulp into a standardized form, and package the product for quality assurance purposes.

Vonne will then export the flavored casabe products to gourmet retail stores in New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, San  Francisco, and Portland. Vonne will also contract experts to ensure compliance with quality requirements and technical needs. To comply with CAFTA regulations, Vonne will hire Digna Rodriguez, an export agent, along with Taca Frieght, a shipping company from La Ceiba, Atlantida with experience dealing with insurance, customs and other fees required to deliver the product to the United States. In addition, Vonne will hire RCL Agencies Inc. to act as an import agent to clear the shipment through customs. To ensure adherence to FDA regulations, Vonne will contract with Registrar Corp. for the prior notice of shipments required by the FDA, as well as nutrition labeling and review for products. Once in the US, Handmade, LLC will act as the distributor who will oversee warehousing, distribution, and provide timely and efficient delivery to stores. In addition, a sales and marketing representative will be hired to attract new retailers at trade shows and promotional events. Vonne will then reinvest a portion of profits into the Garifuna community.