Hope & Main graduate named 'Exporter of the Year' by RI SBA

Posted 5/13/24

As a first-generation immigrant from Senegal, Bacary Diatta understands the value of branding overseas and the power of a global marketplace.

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Hope & Main graduate named 'Exporter of the Year' by RI SBA


On May 2, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) honored the Rhode Island winners of the 2024 Small Business Week awards at their annual “Salute to Small Business” luncheon.

The 2024 SBA awardees consisted of 10 small business owners, advocates, and champions across 9 different categories, including Bacary Diatta, owner of Rhode Island’s Exporter of the Year, Kassumay.

Born in the southern village of Thionck Essyl in Senegal, Bacary Diatta grew up in a place where farming was central to everyday life. And it was his childhood that served as the inspiration and foundation for his company, Kassumay, a food and beverage manufacturing company that produces jams, sparkling drinks, and botanical juices. They import hibiscus flowers from Senegal, West Africa, creating an opportunity for over 1,700 women who have suffered from violence to cultivate land to grow the hibiscus sabdariffa for Kassumay. Women earn a living by selling this hibiscus flower to Kassumay, LLC, and also to local markets within Senegal.

Recently, Kassumay started exporting its products to South America. Bacary wants consumers to carry on the taste of his West African roots and embrace the region’s unique hibiscus flower. By enjoying Kassumay’s fruit spreads and drinks, they connect you with the vibrancy of African cultures and people; it’s Diatta’s mission to get a piece of Thionck Essyl to each home in the Americas.

Kassumay began out of the shared kitchen at Hope & Main, the food business incubator located at 691 Main St. in Warren. Hope & Main’s founder and president, Lisa Raiola, expressed pride in Diatta’s journey and accomplishment.

“Bacary has been relentless in his pursuit to scale his business to higher levels of success. From one hibiscus spread to many, from spreads to sparkling drinks, and now from Senegal to the U.S. to the Dominican Republic, Bacary's vision for Kassumay is boundless,” said Raiola. This feels a bit like destiny. Kassumay is the place where he is from, and the word means ‘peace.’ This is Bacary's mission and his passion and he is exporting it the world over.”

As a first-generation immigrant, Diatta understands the value of branding overseas and the power of a global marketplace.

“We intend to use the opportunity this wonderful country offers us as a way to create a bridge between the USA and the rest of the world,” he said.

The Salute to Small Business event was held at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick and was kicked off with remarks from SBA Chief of Staff Arthur Plews, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, Secretary of State Gregg Amore, General Treasurer James Diossa, Secretary of Commerce Elizabeth Tanner, and the event’s cosponsor Skills for Rhode Island’s Future’s executive director, Nina Pande.

With reports from Ethan Hartley

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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