social impact report & annual statement

A sweet taste of success for Maya Chocolate

Vegan chocolate producer continues to grow thanks to a Start Up Loan from BEF.

A West Yorkshire based chocolate producer is on a mission to make the world a tastier place with the help of start up funding from BEF. Maya Chocolate is the brainchild of Sarah Burdett-Smith-Whitting who launched the venture in 2017 with the simple goal of making all the delicious treats she really missed after she switched to a vegan lifestyle.

Maya Chocolate make luxury vegan chocolates and other delicious edibles such as vegan curds and caramels. All of their products are free from dairy, soy and gluten. They are also unashamedly indulgent.

All Maya Chocolate’s products are made in a commercial unit in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire since February 2018. Customers purchase their favourite Maya Chocolate products at vegan festivals and through an online shop plus a small network of local, independent shops.

“I love interacting with my customers, and the look of joy and wonder when they realise that not only are there 32 different flavours of filled chocolate to choose from, but they are all vegan!” said Sarah.

The search for sustainable, environmentally friendly and cost-effective packaging involved speaking with suppliers. It became clear that the only financially viable way to do this was to buy in bulk from overseas. The search ended with the appointment of an overseas supplier who required an initial payment of £1,000 to begin production. In addition, the planned changes to the Mytholmroyd property required a further injection of cash. This money had to come from outside the business.

Maya Chocolate applied for a £3,000 government-backed, Start Up loan which was delivered by BEF in September 2018, just under one year after first launch.

Julie Micklethwaite, the BEF Investment Manager who oversaw Sarah’s application said: “Maya Chocolate offer a high-quality product and service. The Start Up Loan was the perfect way to help them finance their growth and I’m confident that the new packaging will lead to increased orders and profit. I wish Sarah every success for the future.”

The £3,000 Start Up loan enabled Maya Chocolate to purchase 1000 branded, eco-friendly and 100% recyclable boxes that positions them as a luxury brand while reducing their carbon footprint. It is hoped that the new packaging will boost sales to new stockists, making veganism more accessible.

The experience has taught Sarah to not be afraid of taking risks. Sarah said: “As a business owner, it’s important to believe in yourself and your business. No-one is going to work harder on your dream than you, so if you believe in it, go out there and fight for it!”

To anyone facing business finance challenges, Sarah adds: “Give BEF a go. Sit down and write everything you need to take your business to the next level, quantify it and then apply for the loan. The worst they can do is say no.”

Maya Chocolate launched the newly furnished commercial unit on Saturday 6 October with an Open Day which included demonstrations and chocolate making workshops. The commercial unit is now open to the public Mondays to Wednesdays, 11am - 4pm.

For more information on Maya Chocolate visit

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