About Us

Exploring our mission and beginnings


Elevate the value of Africa’s cocoa to reflect the continent’s 120+ years of cocoa sustainability, quality, and excellence


Become the world’s leading marketplace for African cocoa products & services, and the trusted agent for African cocoa transactions.

How we started

Hello and welcome, from Dr. Kristy Leissle, ACM Founder & CEO.

After working in the cocoa industry for nearly twenty years – as a researcher, consultant, educator, scholar, marketer, and thought leader – I founded ACM on the conviction that cocoa in Africa is grown and traded with sustainability, quality, and excellence.

When I look at African cocoa, I see a venerable past: well over a century of global leadership in cocoa production, with cocoa wealth, expertise, and knowledge passed on through generations.

I also see a bright future, which lies in the hands of cocoa farmers as well as the entrepreneurs and business leaders across the continent who trade and process cocoa.

But not everyone has had the opportunity to see what I have seen in Africa.

For too long, sensationalist headlines that rely upon negative stereotypes have distorted investment into African cocoa markets. At the extreme end, these stories have led cocoa buyers, chocolate brands, journalists, activists, and even chocolate lovers to fear African cocoa.

When I have spoken and worked with these groups, I’ve been struck by the fact that many seem comfortable making sweeping judgments about African people, their lives and their work, without ever having stepped foot upon the continent.

The distances across this value chain are often vast. So much gets lost as cocoa travels from farms in Africa to factories outside, and from there into the hands of chocolate lovers.

I founded ACM to close that distance.

I am interested in making the hard work of the women and men who grow, trade, process, and market cocoa and chocolate across Africa seen and valued, so that they can get a more respectful return on their considerable investment in this crop.

My team and I know it will take time to build trust in us. We are a new company with an ambitious mission, and we go into our work every day with our eyes open to the challenges ahead.

But we are ready, and the challenges are what motivate us.

We are here for the long haul. You’ll be seeing a lot of us!

We hope you will join us on this journey.

Where we are headed

In 2024, we are developing the pilot for a digital marketplace that will efficiently connect sellers in Africa with global buyers, investors, and service providers. Our platform will make it easy for buyer and sellers alike to share their value propositions and provide evidence of best practices with potential business partners. We are currently serving select clients who want to assure their own customers that their work in African cocoa is built upon excellence and fosters trade justice. We also provide risk assessment and risk mitigation support to clients working towards EUDR compliance.

ACM Corporate Culture

We believe in building a workplace where everyone feels empowered to make decisions, speak with authority, and trust their colleagues to bring their best selves to work every day.

These values shape our interactions with one another, and with our clients and customers, whether we are in the field, at our desks, or on a call.

Our work is guided by these principles:

Work lean and get the job done

Create efficient paths to success. That’s all we need to make it work.

Be a know a lot, not a know it all

Be confident in your knowledge, talent, and skill. Also be humble. Practice active listening and be open to learning, always.

Speak the truth and don’t be afraid to say “no”

Be honest. If, upon careful reflection, the answer to something is “no,” say it with conviction.

Treat every client like the business they are

From smallholder farmers to multinational corporations, we respect every client as the representative of a business, with business concerns and goals.

Brand success = everyone’s success

Take responsibility for ACM’s success. If you see a gap, step in and fill it. We are stronger together, as we reach for our common goals.


Dr. Kristy Leissle

Kristy leads on client onboarding, qualitative assurance strategy, stakeholder engagement, EUDR risk assessment, and building out the team. She is committed to creating a new model of cocoa trade justice through ACM.

Panashe Hwata

Panashe leads on developing ACM’s technological landscape to drive innovation and efficiency, and building ACM’s culture of teamwork. Enthusiastic about leveraging technology for positive change, Panashe found his perfect fit at ACM, where he combines technical expertise and proactive problem-solving with a passion for cocoa innovation.

Benjamin Setor Gbadago

Benjamin leads on research and storytelling for qualitative assurance, ACM social media, and cultural education, both internally with our team and externally with ACM’s global audiences. Raised in a farming community in Ghana’s Eastern Region, Benjamin develops opportunities for ACM to help the cocoa industry learn more about Africa’s cultures and the true value of its cocoa.

James Cofie

James leads on ACM business development in Ghana, including business strategy and accounting, as well as procurement and vendor management for our clients’ impact investments. Passionate about business innovation, strategy, and audit, and with years of hand-on experience in Ghana’s business environment, James is committed to ACM’s mission to deliver exceptional value to our diverse clientele.


William ‘Bill’ Guyton

Partnership Development
Elevating Cocoa to the Next Digital Frontier

Join the ACM Marketplace Pilot Program

Be among the first to experience our innovative marketplace platform. Gain early access and influence the future of cocoa trading in Africa.