EMKAO Foods Inc. is redefining transparency in the chocolate industry. A food processing company based in Mission B.C., EMKAO imports cocoa beans grown in Cameroon, Equatorial Africa from small-scale farmers.

While cocoa production mainly takes place in the tropics, owner Ayissi Nyemba, wanted to address the problems in the industry that were affecting her community in Africa.

EMKOA Foods founder Ayissi Nyemba

“Our aim is to promote co-development on an international scale. Cocoa is a profitable resource for international markets, so it must be the same for smallholder farmers in rural African. In 2010, we started operations on a family farm where we work with farmers to harvest the best quality beans.”

EMKAO purchases the beans from the villages, in collaboration with accredited exporters, and then imports them to Canada to be processed into delicious chocolate.

EMKAO specializes in the chocolate industry through a vertically integrated corporate structure that leverages direct trade and single-sourcing for cocoa beans. This structure is possible due to an ownership stake in a family farm located in Cameroon.

Once the beans arrive in Canada and are processed by three employees at EMKAO, Ayissi faces the next challenge: finding markets to purchase the sustainably sourced goods. To explore all possibilities, she reached out to Export Navigator and was connected with an Export Advisor to give her guidance.

“My advisor helped me see the best opportunities for EMKAO, in terms of financing, strategizing on where to start and exploring what’s feasible for the company,” says Ayissi.

Export Navigator also helped connect Ayissi with other organizations and resources that could help her with her growth strategy, including exporting outside of B.C.

“We are now starting different programs that will help us expand into different markets,” says Ayissi.

Going forward, her hope is to continue to strengthen her supply chain, import more inventory, hire more staff and start exporting to new markets.

Raeanne Anderson