International food products company bringing sustainably produced, nutritious, ancient African foods to the world


USA, Mali and Senegal



Company overview

Yolélé is an international food company that has created a line of African food products focused on underutilised, climate-resilient crops like the ancient West African grain, fonio. Yolélé builds global markets for crops grown by smallholders in regenerative farming systems, fostering a more biodiverse, drought-tolerant landscape across West Africa. The company sells consumer products via retailers, restaurants and directly to customers, and bulk ingredients to food manufacturers. Yolélé’s fonio is sold in 2,000 stores across the US, including Whole Foods Market and Target. In 2021, the company launched a line of Fonio Chips – salty snacks that serve to introduce the grain to a wider audience. Yolélé has been featured in various leading media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Bloomberg, Reuters and more. To meet increasing demand, Yolélé is now building West African Ancient Grains, an industrial scale agri-processing facility, in Mali with local partners. The new joint venture (JV) in Mali has just been awarded USD 2m grants that help with the establishment of the JV.


  • Enable multi-crop land cultivation that includes nitrogen fixing cover crops (expected to be 3,000 hectare by 2020; 6,000 hectare by 2023; with growth expected to continue into the future;
  • Through an estimated 1,500 tons of fonio sales next year, Yolélé will distribute USD 750k to approximately 6,000 women (mostly living in extreme poverty), adding USD 125 to their annual income (>16% increase of typical income);
  • The human and landscape impact scope is projected to double in each of the next four years;
  • Become a replicable sourcing and processing model for the African continent.


CommodityFonio (grain)
Annual revenue (USD)501k – 1m
Employees 1 – 10
Years in operation 2 – 5


Amount (USD)1.1m – 10m
InstrumentEquity, Debt

Use of funds

Two different investment opportunities:

(1) USD 5m for operational expenditures in the US and Senegal to grow sales fivefold (staff, promotion/ marketing, new products);

(2) USD 5m on CAPEX to build, equipment and staff factory of a new JV in Mali.


This company is part of the Pipeline Accelerator Newsletter – a partnership between the Partnerships for Forests and the Blended Finance Taskforce. Click here to read the full Pipeline Accelerator Newsletter.

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