Founded by Dominican American sisters Janett and Erika Liriano, Inaru is reimagining the cacao supply chain.  The startup has raised $1.5 million in seed capital from technology, venture and impact funds to build a vertically integrated ecosystem for production of organic cacao in the Dominican Republic.

Inaru has established an inclusive business model to empower growers through profit sharing and overhaul outdated farming practices that have constrained capacity of cocoa production in the Dominican Republic, according to its founders. The company has provided organic certification to more than 300 farmers, with a waitlist of 1,800 more, and has obtained exclusive contracts for 500 tonnes of cocoa. Inaru said it will use the funding to complete construction of a warehouse and installation of a cacao refinery this year, with plans to produce semi-finished and finished products entirely for the export market.

“Inaru can really prove beyond any potential doubt that the farmers are being paid what they are owed,” says Janett Liriano, chief executive officer.

Looking forward, the founders of Inaru are interested in applying its model to the coffee industry with a goal to “reframe commodities as essential foundational goods,” she says.

Investors include The Helm, 1517 Fund, MarsBio VC, West Ventures, Gaingels, Sorenson Impact Foundation and leaders from companies including The Hershey Co., Soylent, Unity Technologies and Robolox.