Don’t worry…although Dili, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is only about 700km northwest of Darwin – far closer than any Australian city – for many people it remains only vaguely at the edge of our minds as a place of war and political violence.
For Shannon French, one of Lospalos’ founders, however, Timor holds a personal connection. As a former soldier in the Australian Army, he served in the ISF forces which restored security in Timor-Leste following the 1999 post-independence ballot violence and protected the UN mission in 2012.
During his time there Shannon developed an emotional connection to the country and its people,
returning to set up Wild Timor Coffee, a fair-trade coffee business that supplies cafes in Melbourne. Through the Wild Timor cafes, Shannon has worked to promote Timorese food, culture and coffee and successfully invested profits back into supporting community initiatives such as water
projects, schools and a birthing centre.
Noticing the prolific coconut palm plantations in Timor, Shannon identified that coconut oil could potentially have similar success to Wild Timor’s coffee as an export product due to the increasing global demand. In 2018, he partnered with Steven Dean, a former Australian Navy Clearance Diver, to found Lospalos Coconut Oil. Together they have personally invested and built the first coconut oil factory in Souro Village, Lospalos, which currently employs 13 people.
Shannon and Steven scouted and secured a suitable site for a prototype factory and developed a relationship with Souro Village and the Cabral family
The factory is built in Lospalos and the DME press is installed
Oil samples are produced with the DME press to test the market
Timorese Company, Losco SS, LDA, is registered
Six women are hired and trained and Lospalos begins production of VCO
Lospalos oil is stocked at Pateo supermarket in Dili, Timor-Leste
A Pozible crowdfunding campaign is completed raising AU$35000 to fund VCO export and widen our support network
The first large-scale VCO export to Australia arrives
Australian Company, Losco Aus Pty Ltd is registered
Lospalos receives a USD$50,000 development grant from Australian Aid via the Market Development Facility to upscale production and grow an export focused business
Lospalos’ online store is opened
The factory expansion funded by MDF is completed and an additional six women are hired and trained to produce VCO
Lospalos Coconut Oil Factory is officially opened by The President of Timor-Leste, Dr. Francisco Guterres, and Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Peter Roberts