Snack-bag of African nuts feeds ambitions of Montreal entrepreneurs
“Bring back some precious stones or money,” Thamarah Mathurin told her partner, François Boisrond, when he left home in 2014 to set up an export venture in Africa.
However, the Haitian-born entrepreneur found the continent’s gemstone trade too precarious, unregulated, and too dangerous in some countries for business investment.
A disconsolate Boisrond returned empty handed, save for a bag of Tanzanian cashew nuts.
“We were both depressed and I was in tears thinking about the time and money we’d invested,” Mathurin said. “We ate the nuts anyway and they turned out to be the best cashews I’d ever tasted. It gave us an idea and we forgot about gemstones.”
Impressed by the flavour, size and colour of the cashews, the couple decided to try selling them and set up Nuts Depot & Plus.
Boisrond spent the following year on the road, conducting market analysis, lining up potential customers, setting up supply chains and negotiating distribution contracts in Canada and abroad.
The effort paid off and the company cracked the market in Vietnam with a large order of raw cashews. But to enter North American and European markets, which prefer shelled nuts, the partners recently leased a processing plant just outside Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.