A Family From The Roots
The global health and wellness food market is valued at $1 trillion, and is only growing. However, the core ingredients in this market, like wheat, have severe health limitations in meeting this demand and current wheat substitutes do no taste as good as wheat-based options.
We found a solution to this problem in a tropical root vegetable known as cassava! First, cassava is gluten-free, nut-free. and grain-free, making it a great substitute to wheat. Second, compared to other wheat substitutes like almond and coconut, it is the most similar in taste to wheat-based options, requiring little behavior change on the side of consumers. Third, it is paleo-friendly, with important properties like improved glucose tolerance, better blood pressure control, better appetite management, and lower triglycerides. Overall, cassava proves to be superior to both wheat and wheat substitutes and has been described by the Huffington post as a “hidden” superfood. In addition, the United Nations has even declared cassava as “the food of the 21st century.”
However, the problem with cassava is that is spoils 3 days after harvest, with over 40% of the global annual harvest lost on average. As a result, a majority of the 20 million cassava farmers in the world today, 75% of whom are women, live on under a dollar a day per capita income. In addition to its primary effect of engendering poverty in farming communities, cassava spoilage also has adverse environmental and economic implications. Globally, 93 million tons of spoilage are recorded annually, the equivalence of 235 million tons of CO2 emissions and monetary losses of over $4 billion.
At CassVita, we have invented a novel technology for increasing the shelf-life of cassava from 3 days to 18 months. This breakthrough technology enables us to disrupt global food chains as well as provide sustainable livelihoods to farmers. Our first product, cassava powder, used to make African cuisine, is sold in over 50 supermarkets globally. Consequently, we are able to empower a community of over 500 farmers, 95% of whom are women, in Cameroon, increasing their earnings by 400%.
CassVita was founded in 2019 by childhood friends, Pelkins Ajanoh and Nembu Emmanuel. They have been friends for over 20 years, playfully competed in school, and after completing their engineering degrees – Pelkins at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US and Nembu at Cameroon’s National Advanced School of Public Works – decided to team up to solve some of the world’s most complex quandaries, beginning with agritech innovation. They are both proximate leaders who strongly understand local context and global realities.
Store locations worldwide
Thoughts From Experts
As a native of Cameroon and president of the MIT African Students Association, Pelkins Ajanoh has ambitions for himself — and his home continent.