Oumar Barou Togola
President & Founder
Oumar is a driven entrepreneur born in Mali, West Africa. Having spent a large part of his childhood in Mali, Benin, Chad and Burkina Faso, Oumar developed an appreciation for the rich resources available in the area and the need for conscious local development. As a founder of Farafena, his vision and quest to bring awareness to nutrient dense African Super Foods led him to form a team of young, dynamic, entrepreneurs with like-minded desires to make a difference. Oumar’s background in business and strong family ties to Mali have been instrumental in establishing a systematic partnership with farmers at the grassroots and in the effort to put Mali back on the map as the centre of African trade.
VP of Operations
Kevin brings to Farafena three decades of diverse project experience directing and empowering teams in such places as the Canadian Arctic, Europe, Africa and Australia. He offers a keen understanding of the strength of diversity within projects and the ability to drive collaboration across Farafena’s international operations. Kevin has managed mega projects systematically addressing risk, quality assurance and supply chain management.
Brandon Kou was most recently the General Manager of Steve Nash Enterprises, a investment conglomerate with portfolio companies in media/entertainment, sports and health/wellness/lifestyle. He was responsible for sourcing all new investment opportunities as well as managing and providing growth strategies for the existing portfolio companies including Indochino, Sharecare, the Vancouver Whitecaps, Onebode and the Steve Nash Sports Club and Fitness World. Prior to founding Steve Nash Enterprises, Mr. Kou provided investment banking services at Houlihan Lokey where he focused on Media, Sports and Entertainment.
For over fifteen years, Raphael Marinho has applied his Brazilian aesthetic influence to the field of design. At Farafena, Raphael oversees all creative and strategic initiatives including branding, web, social media, packaging, photography, video production, and online strategies.
Manizheh comes to the Farafena team with a diverse career background in mathematics and special needs education, braille education, English language education and Persian-English interpretation services. Manizheh moved to Tanzania shortly after completing her Bachelor of Science and Education with a minor in Mathematics in India. Since moving to Vancouver, Manizheh has a key role in recipe development, food demonstration and expo/convention operations. Manizheh travelled to Mali in November 2015 with Oumar, Fariba and Kevin to connect with farmers in Southern Mali.
Advisor & Product Development
Ghaz is a mommy of two with a background in events, marketing and nutrition. Getting to make children eat healthy delish food is always a challenge for busy moms everywhere. By bridging the gap between what children want to eat and what moms wish their children would eat is where Ghaz’s love for preparing food comes in. By swapping a much healthier Fonio flour and adding Baobab, ensures that a morning staple like pancakes is packed with nutrients for every member of the family. Ghaz feels a great sense of pride being a part of the Farafena family knowing that she is not only helping moms here but also empowering woman farmers in Mali.
Fariba is a registered nurse currently working in a Vancouver emergency department. Beyond her regular work hours, Fariba takes a role in the Farafena vision by interviewing and recording the stories of Malian producers and farmers, assisting in telling the stories of our Malian partners and by seeking ways to expand the scope of Farafena’s reach. It is her hope that, with Malian partnership, Farafena’s vision of supporting farmers and producers may eventually expand to primary health-care services, maternal and child health support and broader educational opportunities for local Malians.
What Farafena is all about
Like most ventures, the story of Farafena begins with a thought. A thought rooted in the idea that the world is a connected community and we all have something substantial to offer to the progress of the planet. Our particular offering hails from the village of Tabakoro in Southern Mali. Generations of farmers have cultivated the soil to produce grains that have sustained the people of West Africa for millennia. It is our desire to deliver the abundance of goods from Africa to every corner of the world. We aspire to promote health and sustainability through our offering of nutritious grains and equitable exchange with farmers. We thank you for joining Farafena in our journey to elevate the well-being of the world one community at a time.