Dominican cocoa supplier raises seed money

Founded by Dominican American sisters Janett and Erika Liriano, Inaru is reinventing the cocoa supply chain. The startup has raised $1.5 million in seed capital from technology, venture and impact funds to build a vertically integrated ecosystem for organic cocoa production in the Dominican Republic.

Inaru established an inclusive business model to empower producers through profit sharing and overhauling outdated farming practices that have limited cocoa production capacity in the Dominican Republic, according to its founders. The company has provided organic certification to over 300 farmers, with a waiting list of another 1,800, and secured exclusive contracts for 500 tons of cocoa. Inaru said it would use the funding to complete the construction of a warehouse and the installation of a cocoa refinery this year, with plans to produce semi-finished and finished products entirely for the export market.

“Inaru can really prove beyond any potential doubt that farmers are getting what they are owed,” says Janett Liriano, Managing Director.

Looking ahead, Inaru’s founders want to apply its model to the coffee industry with the aim of “reframing commodities as essential foundational goods,” she says.

Investors include The Helm, 1517 Fund, MarsBio VC, West Ventures, Gaingels, Sorenson Impact Foundation and executives from companies including The Hershey Co., Soylent, Unity Technologies and Robolox.

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