Earlier this year, CEO and founder of EMKAO Foods Ayissi Nyemba and her team opened the doors to their chocolate factory in Mission and are in full swing producing Canada’s only single sourced, traceable, sustainable chocolate products made from organic cacao beans. The new 3,000 square foot space is where cocoa nibs, cocoa paste to make chocolate bars, cocoa butter for white and milk chocolate, cocoa powder for ice cream, and dark vegan chocolate chips are made for wholesale distribution. EMKAO imports their organic cocoa beans from Cameroon, Africa from Ayissi’s family cacao plantation, Kotou Farm. With a direct trade model, EMKAO is passionate about supporting women’s involvement and employment in agriculture and implementing best practices for paying female workers directly. Ayissi’s vision is to break the cycle of gender inequality and support Cameroonian women’s independence.
Growing up in Cameroon and spending most of her time at her family’s farm, Ayissi gained immense appreciation for the hard work that went into growing cacao. From her experiences, she saw the challenges and inequity that her family and Cameroon’s cacao farmers faced. Ayissi wanted to make a change.
Ayissi’s parents sent her and her siblings to school in France where she completed her undergrad in marketing. Ayissi seized the opportunity to study at Ecole Chocolat where she received designations as a Professional chocolatier and a Maitre chocolatier. From there, Ayissi moved to Canada to complete her master’s degree in Marketing at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec. In 2015 Ayissi moved to BC to pursue her dreams of starting a business and importing cacao beans to Canada.
“Moving to Canada as a young student and launching EMKAO has been a momentous journey and learning experience. It couldn’t have happened without the incredible support of my family and the business and food community in BC,” says Ayissi. “It has been a true honour to work with some of Vancouver’s top chocolatiers and businesses who have embraced EMKAO with an equal amount of excitement and passion.”
With help from Small Business BC, Innovate BC’s Agriculture Venture Accelerator Program (AVAP), RADIUS, a social innovation hub based out of SFU’s Beedie School of Business, and e@UBC, a social innovation incubator, a business plan for EMKAO Foods was created – a start-up food processing company focusing on the production of single-source chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and related products. Through fundraising campaigns, Ayissi raised $600,000 to open the EMKAO Foods factory.
Currently, EMKAO works directly with Ayissi’s family farm. In the future, Ayissi looks forward to growing her business and her mission to create awareness and break the cycle of gender inequality.
To learn more about Emkao Foods visit: www.emkaofoods.com