>> In her modest apartment near a Caracas slum, Nancy Silva spreads rich, dark Venezuelan cocoa to make chocolate bars. These gourmet slabs will be sold in local shops in Venezuela, a creative way to make a living in the middle of an economic crisis using high quality local ingredients.
Reuters correspondent Corrina Ponds.>> The entrepreneurs are making the chocolates with the local aromatic and sweet cocoa that has been famous for centuries. I interviewed a few of them in Caracas, and they are making the chocolate even in their own apartments and dreaming of selling the products abroad.
>> Most of Silva's bars are sold domestically for less than $1, that's the equivalent of about a week of minimum wage salary. But wealthy Venezuelans can afford it. The real opportunity lies abroad, where gourmet bars like these can fetch more than $10 each at upscale shops in Paris or Tokyo.
But there are challenges, like acquiring customs authorizations and sanitary inspections. Permits that would be more easily obtained in other countries, but take months in Venezuela's notoriously inefficient bureaucracy. Many small chocolatiers only manage to get products to foreign markets by carrying them in suitcases on commercial flights.>> I've walked all of Paris with my suitcase, not even knowing French.
But when you know your product and you know who can buy it, I sold my two suitcases of chocolate, and in the 32 days, I return with no chocolate.>> Venezuela was once the world's leading cocoa producer. But the cocoa trade was overshadowed by the much more dominant oil industry that plunged in recent years, sending the country into its current economic meltdown.