Our Story

Our story spans several generations, continents and countries and many, many cities. Born from a hustler's spirit in 1995 by Rokia Diarra, Yamacu was started out of necessity to provide and support her newly immigrated family of 9 children and 4 grandchildren due to a lack of transferrable skills and language in a new country. Rokia made the ginger based juice right out of her kitchen in the Bronx and would sell it in little push carts by foot and walk from the Bronx to Harlem, where large concentrations of African immigrants familiar with her product could be found.

Twenty five years, the same spirit and innovation continues with Dugu, a West African Fusion Cuisine food and beverage company that offers healthy and delicious ways to experience Africa through food. Our newest line of products are  cold-pressed ginger based Yamacu drinks. Made with fresh ginger root, lemon and pineapple base with Rokia's recipe, this refreshing drink can be consumed like a lemonade, mixed with seltzer to make into a homemade soda or mixed with alcohol for delicious unique cocktails. The flavors are Ginger Pineapple, Ginger Beet Cranberry, Ginger Spinach Wheatgrass and Ginger Lemon.

From Mali but raised in Flint MI, Salimata (re) founded Yamacu while getting her MBA at Babson College. A passionate advocate of anti hunger and social justice, this busy and proud mother of three, believes that as the cradle of humanity, Africa has a lot to teach the rest of the world, and there is no better or more fun way to learn about this beautiful and diverse continent than through the power of food. By supporting Salimata and Rokia's hard work, you are helping local entrepreneurs, women and minorities committed to giving back to their communities both local and global.

 

OUR IMPACT

100% of the proceeds made from Yamacu supports the various projects undergoing in Sali’s home country of Mali.  Three of the projects that Yamacu proceeds funds are as follows:

1. Cloth Diaper Workshop: 
Awa Diarra and Aminata Traore, the cousin and sister-in-law, respectively, of Sali, have found that their neighborhood streets of Bamako, Mali are plagued with dirty plastic diapers.   This is an issue that is not only aesthetically displeasing , but has many severe implications in the contamination of water sources and the soil farmers need to plant their crops.  Therefore, Kokadje, which means “Getting Clean” in Bamanan, was created as a company to produce cloth diapers to be sold to mothers throughout Mali, and is available for purchase through Yamacu. 

2. Todunkan: 
Sali’s passion for cuisine and using flavor as a means for learning about culture is seen in her passion project called Todunkan.  The meaning of Todunkan is the “Language of Eating” in Sali’s native language of Bamanan.  Todunkan is a multilingual project meant to help teach her American-born children, nieces and nephews her native language of Bamanan.  Bamanan is one of the most widely spoken languages in West Africa, and there are few to no resources to aid with the teaching of it. The basis of this project is to take stories that are produced in Bamanan, translate them into English and French, and evolve these stories into usable learning formats like songs, coloring books, and a variety of activity books to create a fun learning platform to teach her children their native language, as well as teaching children English and French.  Yamacu supports this project by paying a full time salary to the entire team of Todunkan. They have now produced over 10 total stories and lessons and are working on publishing it as a workbook in 2022.

3. Mama Kasso: 
Mama Kasso, meaning “Mama’s Home” is a shelter program that has been in operation for over 15 years.  This program was started out of Sali’s home in Bamako, and is currently still being operated by her mother.  The program provides rural youth and young adults of Bamako with a support system and liaison to household job opportunities, like cooking, cleaning, childcare services, and home management skills. As well as providing a safe haven for the youth of Bamaka, Mama Kasso has also become a resource for employers to seek future employees, where terms of employment, salary, and other negotiations are handled in-house.  Over the years, Mama Kasso has grown to be a service that has provided jobs and resources to over 2,000 youth per year, and is continuing to grow at great rates.  Sali’s mother, Rokia Diarra, who started the program, and continues to manage it, is no longer able to sustain the company on her own due to declining health and financial burden.  Therefore, Yamacu serves as a means to provide funding for the support of this company, as well as helps to provide salaries for many youth in Bamako.