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The Candy Man Can!

Sweet Story of Success for Ketut Widana - the Man Behind Bali's Magic Chocolate Brand.

(3/26/2011) As reported by Kompas.com, few people who meet Ketut Widana (43) would guess this unassuming gentleman is the driving force behind Bali's leading chocolate producer - Magic Chocolate. Commencing as a cottage industry operated from his simple home in Batubulan, just north of Denpasar, Magic Chocolate now employs over a dozen employees, sells chocolate worth tens of millions of rupiahs every month and has even managed to penetrate markets as far away as Europe with his delicious confections.

Ketut's path to chocolate stardom was circuitous at best. A graduate in English language teaching, Ketut Widana briefly taught junior high school and worked for more than a decade as a tour guide before finding his current calling as a chocolatier.

Tired of the bureaucracy of being a civil servant teacher, he enjoyed his next carer stint as a tour guide but eventually decided that his wife and three children would be better provided for if he could become an entrepreneur.

Briefly trying to sell bakso - the ubiquitous meatball soup which is a staple of the Indonesian diet, he then turned his hand to raising lobsters before finally teaming up with a Balinese cook met at a business skill seminar in Bali. Together the men resolved to create quality confections at reasonable prices.

Investing only Rp. 10 million (US$1,100), he set out to create quality chocolate products. Said Widana: "I want to make chocolates that are the best - that do not cause sore throats, make your thirsty or destroy the teeth. I recalled a dentist who used to post a sign warning his patients not to consume chocolates because they harm the teeth."

Beginning in February 2007, Widana and his friend started a small scale enterprise producing a small inventory of heart-shaped chocolates that they sold in several stores in Gianyar and Denpasar. Priced at less than US$1 each, the heart-shaped chocolate were a success in the market, bought be people seeking sweetheart gifts for the significant other in their life.

Over time, the Magic Chocolate range expanded to include pure chocolate, cashew chocolate, raisin chocolates and even chocolates containing candle nuts. As Magic Chocolate's growing circle of devotees will tell you the Indonesian made chocolates are every bit as delicious as the much more expensive products imported from abroad.

Proud of their Balinese roots, Magic Chocolate are now produced by UD Utami and packaged in wrappings bearing the images of Balinese scenes, dances and tourist sites. And, don't be too hasty in throwing away a the wrappings used by Magic Chocolate - each image has an educational message printed on its reverse side.

"The packaging was my inspiration to simultaneously sell chocolate while promoting Bali's tourism. I have the ability to speak foreign languages coming from my time as a guide. Information on tourism is needed in all place and all times. So our wrappings are an excellent media through to promote the island of my birth. Now were up to 30 different packagings for 30 different tastes all promoting Bali," explained Ketut.

On the subject of price, Widana is not able to sell his products at the same price as foreign-produced products although he insists the quality of Magic Chocolate is every bit the match of competing brands. His prices range from Rp. 5,000 (US$ 0.55) each to Rp. 400,000 (US$ 44.50) for a box. Now entering its 5th year of business, Magic Chocolate intends to grow and conquer its corner of the confectionery market.

Content to offer his customers a real bargain, at least for the moment, Widana reminds that a cheap price does not always equate with a low quality.

With current production of 30,000 boxes of chocolate every month, Widana's dream is to eventually have a dedicated chocolate factory in Bali using only ingredients harvested from his beloved Bali.

And, having tasted Magic Chocolate, we that if anyone can make this dream come true, this candy man can!