au coeur de l'entreprise

Vanaë's pure vanilla invites itself into our kitchens

La vanille pure de Vanaë s’invite dans nos cuisines

Vanaë is a Quebec company directly linked to vanilla producers in Madagascar. This business project reduces intermediaries in order to offer pure, authentic vanilla that respects the working conditions of Malagasy people. We were able to talk to a vanilla enthusiast, Ben Dahin Abou, founder of Vanaë and entrepreneur with human values. Here is the story of a newcomer looking for quality vanilla in Quebec.

A need becomes a business project

The idea of ​​Vanaë started about four years ago. Ben Dahin Abou has been established in Quebec for 12 years now. He came to live in Montreal as an IT project manager. He then continued his studies at HEC in order to upgrade here. As soon as he arrives, Ben looks for quality vanilla in Quebec grocery stores, but always comes back disappointed with the poor quality. He ends up asking his mother to send him some directly from Madagascar. Later, while visiting his mother in his native country, Ben decides to visit local vanilla producers. His mother already produces vanilla on the family land, but Ben is looking to source much larger quantities than she can produce in a year. He therefore asks her for advice on how to meet the producers and be able to discuss with them a possible collaboration to export the vanilla directly to Quebec, and thus avoid the many usual intermediaries. Vanaë vanilla ( vanilla planifolia ) comes directly from the producers. Ben mentions that “the advantage of working directly with them (the producers) is to ensure the quality of the fair and eco-responsible product”.

Life as an entrepreneur, one pod at a time

Reconciling business and personal life is an integral part of Vanaë where “you have to take events one at a time and bounce back as needed. Ben says when we talk about his plans for the day that had to be postponed to take care of his sick daughter. The reality of the entrepreneur is to be able to juggle business and personal responsibilities. He had to see to developing the Trois-Rivières sector since he receives a lot of online orders from this region. Vanaë is an online store, gourmet restaurants, delicatessens and salons. The founder sets himself the goal of participating in three or four fairs a year, such as Expo Yoga, Manger Santé and a Christmas Village in Montreal last year. Vanaë also has products derived from vanilla such as vanilla powder , vanilla oil or even vanilla chai tea .

Educate to better understand vanilla

Vanilla is known to be one of the most expensive spices on the market. It is therefore important for Vanaë to properly inform its customers about the origin of vanilla, its use and also the difference between pure vanilla and its distant cousin, vanilla extract. This return to authenticity is an integral part of the company's values. Vanilla, of course, is produced in Madagascar and Comoros. All the rest of the processing is done in Quebec. Every year, Ben travels in June to meet his producer allies and ensure that the quantity of vanilla ordered is indeed available. He works hand in hand with them and must follow the process closely, despite the people he trusts there. A second trip is organized during the month of September, when the vanilla is ready to be exported to Quebec. Vanaë is proud to contribute to maintaining the fair price of this product in order to allow producers to really be able to live from their production by having the necessary and adequate income. "I want to travel across Quebec to present my product and also convey a message, to allow Malagasy producers to be more respected and to finally be able to live from their culture", says Ben on the importance of having this privileged link with his collaborators.

Advice and future plans

Vanaë is a company that wants to allow Quebecers to better understand vanilla and taste the difference of a pure product. The entrepreneur is involved in his community, questions himself a lot and loves to solve problems. He delivers a clear message to people who would like to go into business: patience, communication and the importance of talking about the project are the keys to success. He was able to draw inspiration from successful companies in Quebec and go all the way to the realization of his project while remaining authentic and anchored with his product idea.

In the next year, three new products will be launched: a tropical flavored tea, a vanilla salt and a new vanilla olive oil. Ben wants to position Vanaë and be recognized as a company specializing in real vanilla. Notice to pastry chefs, gourmet chefs and amateur cooks, to enhance your dishes in an authentic and tasty way, Vanaë vanilla is available and ready to be discovered for your greatest taste pleasure.

To learn more about the company, visit its member profile .

Reviewed by Sandrine

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