My people hail from Panama by way of the Caribbean by way of Africa. When my daughter was old enough to begin eating solids, I loved sharing my heritage with her by making homemade baby food with ingredients like plantains, yuca, collards, tamarind, papaya and more. As I prepared to go back to work, I searched for ready-made, fresh baby food like the ones I’d been making at home but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Where was the baby food made with staple foods from a mix of cultures? That baby food didn’t exist. So, I took matters into my own hands. I began making baby food in large batches. I shared the food with family, friends and neighbors. The demand for the food grew. The Little Cocoa Bean was born out of a desire for fresh and healthy baby food options with more cultural representation.
BIPOC individuals rarely see their cultural food represented in the “mainstream” CPG market but, more than ever, they are interested in enhanced cultural representation in spaces where they’ve been underrepresented. While market representation and inclusivity are at the heart of Little Cocoa Bean Co.’s efforts, we are also intentional about addressing health disparities in underserved communities. We offer free food prep classes through nonprofit community partners and we donate to organizations fighting childhood hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity.
The Little Cocoa Bean Company is the proud recipient of a 100 for 100 grant from American Express. American Express worked closely with IFundWomen of Color to select and surprise 100 unique and passionate innovators across a number of different industries including fashion and beauty, food and beverage, finance, fitness and wellness, home goods and apparel, technology, social good and more. Many of the women are also creating content and fostering communities to empower the next class of Black women leaders.