A sweet investment

Kiwis who buy shares will received discounted chocolate for life. File photo.

Tauranga chocolate lovers now have the chance to buy a piece of the Dunedin-based chocolate company OCHO and receive discounted chocolate for life.

The deal is if sweet-toothed investors take a stake in the company through their PledgeMe campaign today, they will reap the benefits for years to come.

The community-driven initiative began as a response to Mondelez announcing it planned to close Dunedin's Cadbury factory.

Initially, Jim O'Malley and a team of volunteers aimed to purchase the Cadbury factory to keep confectionery production in the city.

However, ‘Own the Factory' has advanced its strategy to focus on premium chocolate-making, joining forces with independently-owned OCHO and in the process developing a model for community business ownership to contribute to regional development.

Jim says the share offer is a little different from the ordinary.

"We want to attract as many $100 investors as possible, so we're limiting the total any one person can own to 11% so that no single investor can dominate.

“The constitution of the company will also prevent it from moving its production outside of Dunedin.

"Instead of one or a few large 'cornerstone' shareholders, OCHO will be owned by a broad base of small investors across the country.

Each share is worth $100 and all shareholders will have voting rights - and importantly each shareholder will be able to buy award-winning OCHO chocolate at a special shareholder price!"

Jim says they aim to raise $2,000,000, which is the maximum that can be raised through crowd funding in any year. However, they will close the fund if they only receive $1,800,000.

If they receive any less than this the public buy-out of OCHO won't proceed.

When the crowd funding is confirmed OCHO will become publically owned, with the money raised contributing a small amount to its purchase and the majority providing funds for expansion.

OCHO Founder Liz Rowe has agreed to stay on as OCHO's General Manager to scale up the company and help it achieve its ambitious growth goals.

Liz recently visited Italy to research artisan chocolate making equipment and this will be ordered as soon as the crowd funding campaign closes.

While OCHO will continue to operate its café from 22 Vogel Street in Dunedin's growing warehouse precinct, the new Board of Directors is investigating moving production to a building in the city's Steamer Basin. It's hoped the expanded production facility will be operational by the middle of 2018.

An establishment board has been appointed to lead OCHO for the first 12 months and there is the potential to appoint another director if more skills are required.

The OCHO establishment board is: Jim O'Malley, Vito Iannece and Stewart Cowan from Dunedin and Tami Louisson from Wellington.

The crowd funding campaign is currently live on https://www.pledgeme.co.nz



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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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