Ekaterra is a Houston-based company committed to bringing wild harvested indigenous West African spices to the world, that are sustainably and equitably sourced direct-from-origin. Our focus is on building a transparent route to market for these authentic flavors, making them approachable and accessible to culinary adventurers everywhere. We're also building digital channels to educate people about and immerse them in the world of West African food and food culture.
Home cooks and chefs alike are demanding more complex flavors and variety, beyond just heat from chilies and basic table condiments (salt & black pepper), when it comes to flavoring food. Additionally, most of the African Diaspora which is over 140 million people strong and majority of whom have ancestral ties to West Africa due to history, have not been privileged to connect to their authentic heritage when it comes to food.
People are missing out on an entire profile of flavors from West Africa as not a single spice from this region is among the top 10 or even the top 25 most commonly purchased spices among consumers.
Unfortunately, spices from this part of the world are;
- not well known or easy to find,
- not easily accessible, and
- not packaged to meet global consumer expectations.
Ekaterra was founded to solve these problems.
Ekaterra solves this problem of access to West African spices by building a direct and transparent route to market for these spices from their source in West Africa to our customers in their kitchens in an approachable and accessible way. Our spices are mostly wild harvested, ethically and sustainably sourced, and processed using centuries old practices of sun drying, shade drying, smoking, roasting, burning and fermenting.
We already have a portfolio of 24 indigenous spices and spice mixes ready for the market.
In getting West African spices on more plates we;
- work directly with partners in rural areas in Nigeria and Cameroon (to start) to equitably and sustainably source spices when they are in season, process them using traditional centuries-old practices and package them to meet global consumer expectations
- created an e-commerce store for customers to conveniently discover, explore and shop the range of rare high-quality spices and spice mixes
- are developing a digital platform to educate customers through rich multimedia content, helping them explore and be inspired by West African ingredients, recipes, and food culture helping them connect to their heritage and satisfy their desire for culinary adventure
We are doing this for everyone who has a desire to explore the food and flavors from West Africa, but also for the African Diaspora as a particular avenue for experiencing the culinary traditions of our ancestors. For many, the pandemic started or reignited the passion for cooking in one’s own kitchen leading foodies, home cooks and chefs alike to journey across the world via plate.
Born and raised in the UK, and having lived in the USA and Nigeria, I have spent much of my life connecting and reconnecting with my Nigerian heritage, particularly through food. It is from my late mother that I first experienced the flavors of Nigerian food, in our small South London flat in the 70s. It is through my mother’s cooking that I learned about my late grandmother, her recipes and the indigenous spices used to nurture, nourish and heal generations for centuries. As an adult I continue to explore and uncover new flavors as I travel across Nigeria and other parts of West Africa - a journey that’s only just the beginning.
I have previous experience building a food & beverage e-commerce company from the ground up, having done so back in Nigeria - one of the most complex, vibrant and diverse countries to do business. I have earned my stripes and gained invaluable experience. Having lived in Nigeria for the last 10 years, I have already developed a supply chain and a network of partnerships to secure these authentic spices so as to get them directly from the source to the market.
As a food content creator and trained chef, I have spent time exploring the flavors of West Africa in-depth - to understand the cuisine and how to apply them in cooking. My background in building a food brand and West African food, along with an over 20 year career in strategy, brand management and marketing, including Google and Deloitte, have prepared me to get these spices into the kitchens of people everywhere.
Building a direct route to market for West African spices is no small task and it is clear we need your support. We are raising funds here on iFundWomen to grow this business. Here’s what we plan to do with the funds;
- Inventory & Packaging: global supply chain challenges are real and also, spices are seasonal. We are getting ahead of the game to ensure supplies of product and quality packaging are sorted - these are two important problems we’re solving in the market
- Marketing & Rich Multimedia Content: to connect, educate and immerse our tribe in the world of West African food and food culture through recipes, stories, interviews and videos that will bring these spices to life in your kitchens
- Equipment for Local Partners: this equipment will help to improve harvests, storage, processing quality and times for by our partners working in rural areas in Nigeria to get the best spices to you
- Growing the Team: building a route to market requires some heavy lifting and we need to expand our tiny team to get this amazing work done
- Working Capital: to keep the lights on
It is with sincere gratitude that I thank you for supporting us in building this US-based multi-country business. Fulfilling our mission enables more people to connect to the rich food culture of West African countries - all 15 of them! Also, it helps create economic opportunities for our partners in rural parts of the region to earn a higher, more consistent income. Black women still only receive 0.27% of the approximately $272 billion venture dollars in the US, so every penny contributed to this campaign helps to change that narrative. Personally, I’m truly excited to have you join us on this adventure, exploring all these authentic, wild and wonderful spices.
THANK YOU for your contribution!
Founder, Ekaterra Company, LLC