“SAF” is the result of complementary strengths uniting to establish a new paradigm for smallholder based industrial agri-processing. Yolélé, a purpose-driven African food company based in the US, had been cultivating global demand for fonio for years, but they recognized the inadequacies of the ancient West African grain’s supply chain. Meanwhile Simballa Sylla had successfully modernized the supply for shea butter in Mali, and was looking for a new value chain to connect a smallholder supplier base with additional sources of income.

In SAF, the partners have for the first time applied the modern agri-processing model to the climate-resilient ancient grain fonio. SAF sources directly from smallholders, using software to provide customers with traceable environmental and social impact. The company processes its fonio using state of the art equipment that efficiently reduces post-harvest losses. Its operations were set up from the outset to respect global food safety requirements. The result? Better product at a more accessible price.

SAF worked with local architects to build a LEED-certified processing facility that pays homage to regional cultures, with an adjacent applications center to cultivate a new generation of food technologists and chefs focused on foodservice and manufacturing uses for traditional local crops like fonio, sorghum, Bambara groundnut, tiger nuts, jujubes, desert dates, and African locust beans.

Ton annual capacity
Direct farmer relationships
Public/private partnerships

Our team

Simballa Sylla


With over 15 years of professional experience, Simballa plays a central role in the implementation of investment projects as Deputy MD of Omnium Invest. He also serves as CEO of Mali Shi and Energy+. 

He is the President of the Global Shea Alliance, an international association based in Accra that aims to promote shea worldwide.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas Arlington (Arlington, Texas, USA) and a Master’s degree in Modeling, Optimization, Decision and Organization from the University of Paris Dauphine in cohabitation with the Ecole des Mines (Paris, France).

Kancou Cissé


Kancou began her career as a financial auditor with PwC in Paris, then with Diarra Sec in Bamako.

She is a former financial director of the Omnium Invest group. She led the strategy of diversification of activities.

She is a certified public accountant and holds a master degree in accounting-control-audit from the University of Paris Dauphine.

Pierre Thiam


Pierre is a celebrated chef, restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Senegal, he is known for his innovative cooking style, rooted in the rich culinary traditions of West Africa.

He is the co-founder and president of Yolélé, and the chef and owner of Teranga Restaurants in New York City, which serves West African dishes.

He has won numerous awards and honors for his cooking and advocacy. He is a board member
of two global nonprofit organizations, IDEO.org and SOS Sahel.

Philip Teverow


Philip is a US food industry veteran who pioneered the introduction of unusual ingredients
(including quinoa, in the 1980s) in the U.S. as brand manager at Dean DeLuca.

As a consultant to food entrepreneurs for nearly 20 years, Philip helped entrepreneurs turn ideas into food businesses with national distribution.

He is the co-founder and CEO of Yolélé.

Philip holds a BA in Anthropology from Columbia University, and he held a Fulbright Fellowship.