Sanne and the Chocolate Factory

June 16 15:52 2016 Print This Article


Help, the Dutch are coming! In the last few issues we featured Femke van Zeijl. Particularly well received was her article on her search for the perfect akara in our neighbourhood (she was disappointed). In this issue, we feature her Dutch ’sister’, Sanne Steemers, who is also a resident of Surulere and who is also on a food mission, this time to make the perfect chocolate. 

I am a new Surulerean. After exploring different sides of Lagos, I settled here last year. It is my favourite place in Lagos! Energetic people, the best suya and amala, music in different venues, and a very central location.

Before moving to Nigeria, I have been working between Africa and Europe for more than 10 years. I have worked in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, but also Namibia and South Africa. And I always refused to come to Nigeria because of its reputation. In 2014, I was invited to Nigeria for a short-term project. The bad reputation turned out to be largely untrue. I am still here and not moving any time soon.

People always ask me how I am coping. I actually enjoy the climate, although the heat in March was a bit much for me. Like everyone, I struggle when there is no light, and living without running water for a few weeks in April was rough. But there are so many ways in which Nigeria compensates for these challenges.

I have developed a ’professional crush’ on this country. A large part of the attraction is the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerian people. Nigerians are energetic, smart, proud and self-reliant. In order to succeed you need confidence, intelligence, resourcefulness and humour. It may be rough at times, but it’s clear what to expect. And it’s a lot of fun!

I am an entrepreneur, and Lagos has inspired me to an even larger vision. My consultancy work for international companies in agriculture pays my bills. My passion is starting the first proudly Nigerian chocolate brand.

Did you know that Nigeria is the fourth-largest cocoa-growing country in the world? Cocoa is one of Nigeria’s largest export products, but a lot smaller in value compared to petroleum. Even though many food products are manufactured locally, most treats are still being imported and are out of reach for many people. Recent research in Europe concluded that chocolate is good for your emotional health.



A local chocolate factory will use Nigerian cocoa to make good quality chocolate, create jobs, and introduce an affordable luxury to the market. Currently, I am experimenting with recipes. I work in Surulere in my own kitchen and on my balcony. My favourite recipe so far is a dark chocolate with suya spice. I have been experimenting with honey and zobo but am yet to find the perfect mix. At the same time, I am raising the investment to buy professional .equipment and rent a factory space.

Last month I travelled to Osun and Ondo states where I visited some cocoa farmers and possible suppliers. I always enjoy being in a cocoa field and see the source of the cocoa. At the same time, there are many improvements to be made in the farms. I hope to be able to support some farmers in planting young trees and taking good care of them.

If all goes well, the chocolate will be available by the end of this year. Will make sure to advertise it in this magazine!

From Surulere with love, Sanne


*Discussing Cocoa supply and sales      * Cocoa farmers in Osun State         * Separating the shells from the Cocoa nibs


Follow the chocolate journey: 

My experiences in Lagos and Nigeria:

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  1. June 16, 19:00 #1 Alf

    Sanne, this is really inspiring and sounds and it is very organic. Having the raw material at site will make this quite easy though having overheads to mitigate, and having all the great intention of providing jobs! Doesn’t get better, all the best!

  2. August 01, 03:56 #2 Shanon

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