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The 60 year-old lecturer Grace, becomes a Chocolatier

Most civil servants in their retirement age always opt to move back to their rural homes so that they can enjoy their retirement benefits peacefully, away from urban areas stressful and expensive lifestyle. Some even engage is start-ups like farming but for Lucy Katiba Grace, she has not done either of these, she chose to stay in Nairobi after ending her 35 year-old teaching career at a hospitality university in Switzerland as an English and French lecturer.

She moved back to Kenya three years ago and preferred to find something creative she could do for Nairobians and that's how she ended up starting her company; Grace Chocolaterie.

This came as an inspiration from her husband, David who had opened up a coffee shop and thus prompted her to venture into chocolate industry as she was trying to figure out what she could offer their customers as a complement to coffee. Her shop which is located in Shell station, Kerarapon, Nairobi currently employs seven Kenyans. 

This was not her future retirement dream, so she had no information or both hard or soft skills about chocolatiering. "I just had to learn the craft so, i enrolled at a workshop in Belgium, where i learned all about chocolatiering," she says. 

Despite this amazing start-up, obstacles have also found their way in her business venture. Her company produces chocolate bars that she started producing after trying out the pralines (a French confectionary that is a cooked mixture of sugar, nuts and vanilla) as her first product, which she claims the latter, is Kenyan' best.

"Kenya is located in sub-saharan Africa and definitely, temperatures here are higher than Switzerland's and chocolate happens to be a temperature sensitive product, so my first product didn't come out well but i had to press on and as time passed by, i learned how to deal with this situation," says Grace.

Three years have passed and her business has grown from selling to individuals in organic markets to having her company's product in several shelves at various retails stores across Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa and Nanyuki.

Grace chocolaterie uses 80 percent of Cocoa mass from Uganda because of it's organic nature and Cocoa beans from Tanzania, but she is forced to import raw materials like sea salt, dried raspberries and strawberries from abroad.

Even at 60 years of age, the former lecturer says she's happy to venture in something that excites her soul, something that she never thought she would do in her early old age.

She wants to introduce pralines to the Kenyan market once again and create even a more and amazing experience to her customers.



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