Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ayissi Nyemba, CEO and Founder of Emkao Foods Inc., located in Mission, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Emkao Foods Inc. (“Emkao”) is a startup food processing company founded in 2016, focused on the production of single-source chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and related products.

Emkao specializes in the chocolate industry through a vertically integrated corporate structure that leverages direct trade and single sourcing for its primary input product: cocoa beans. This structure is possible due to an ownership stake in a family farm (“Kotou Farm”) in Cameroon, western Africa. The current focus is to sell these products wholesale to other businesses, such as chocolatiers, bakers, candy producers, and related businesses.

Tell us about yourself

Before immigrating to Canada, I grew up on Kotou Farm. For many years, the family farm has produced top-quality Grade-I cocoa beans (organic cocoa beans) with crops cultivated in the Esse/Awae, Mefou & Afamba Administrative Division regions of Cameroon. Historically, the farm’s beans were sold in local markets at very low prices, which did not allow producers and workers to benefit equitably from the sales of their products. This is where the idea of Emkao Foods Inc. first came about.

The founding mission of the company has been to buy these high-quality cocoa beans at a fair price and to process them into higher value-added products for sale in markets abroad in a sustainable and ethical way. This approach would generate a premium product for Emkao’s customers, aid small farmers in Cameroon, and help transform their local economy. In addition, the market for cocoa and chocolate will benefit as there is currently limited access to single-source, organic, Grade-I products.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Raising 1M and opening the first traceable and ethically sourced chocolate in BC as a newcomer in Canada.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Raising capital.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. It takes more than an idea or a good business plan to succeed in this path.
  2. Execution is key.
  3. Be very creative and be a problem solver.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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