CEO: Why I Started


April 1, 2020

The main reason that we started MKEC is to give back to the community.  In 2016 I needed to decide what to do about the cacao farm I started as a hobby but was operating with significant losses and would continue to do so.  The only way to make the chocolate business viable was to make and sell chocolate, but why?  Why is the fundamental question that must be answered in order to justify any activity.  The answer came from what my family had already been doing for eight years, giving back to the Maui non-profit community through our family foundation, Makana Aloha Foundation ( My wife, JoRene, and I recognized that the needs in the non-profit community could not be met by current funding and wanted to do more, but how?  Rather than give more to the endowment of Makana Aloha Foundation which is set up to give out at least 5% per year, roughly $250,000, we decided to invest more, a lot more, of our personal wealth in establishing MKEC so that 100% of its net profit will be given back to the non-profit community.  Our focus is giving back to Maui because that is where we live.  It had been a long and expensive road to build and open MKEC but we look forward toward the day when we are profitable and can give back to Maui.  Even before operating profitably we have provided chocolate to non-profits in their fund raising events and will continue to look for opportunities to provide chocolate to support their efforts.

Mahalo nui loa,

Dr. Gunars E. Valkirs
CEO & Food Safety Officer