Entrepreneur Simon Bakker is a Dutch national who earned a Masters in Economics from the University of Amsterdam, afterwards serving as the Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Fidelity National Information Services, a US banking and payments technology company. He arrived in the Philippines in 1994 and as his first venture, co-founded Enderun Colleges, a premier management college in Manila. As the company grew, the founders took on more partners which left Simon itching to start his own company.
Inspired by his homeland’s connection to the chocolate industry, Simon began buying cacao beans from Filipino farmers in 2011. Soon after, he met with buying representatives and shared success stories of consolidated growership programs around the world. While most growership arrangements only offer support in one area (i.e. planting, fertilizers, etc.), Simon believed a true end-to-end support organization could increase overall productivity, revenue, and social impact. Though the Philippines has farmed cacao for over 300 years, it has historically been a low-yield, backyard crop. Simon hired agronomists to develop cacao growing and post-harvest technology and worked with local banks to develop cacao loan programs to help farmers establish new farms. Today, Kennemer supplies the best-in-industry knowledge, planting materials, fertilizers, and loan products, multiplying the productivity of Philippine smallholder farmers by 4x on average to bring a 300-600% increase in their annual income. This not only supplies Kennemer with a steady source of high-quality fermented cocoa beans to export to global clients but also transforms the lives of millions of smallholder farmers.
Kennemer aims to become Asia’s leading cacao producer while simultaneously transforming the lives of millions of smallholder farmers. Kennemer’s efforts to promote ethical and sustainable cacao sourcing have been recognized for their social impact, being awarded as one of the Schwab Foundation’s “Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2016”. Kennemer is also a Business Call to Action member, a UNDP-sponsored alliance that promotes social progress through inclusive business models. With thousands of farmers within his network, Simon already embodies Endeavor’s “multiplier effect.” Furthermore, Endeavor is thrilled to support Kennemer in its growth strategy so that it blooms, becoming a vital piece of the global cacao ecosystem.