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5 friends adventure in Madagascar or 94 hectares of Bourbon vanilla plantations

Did you know that the highest quality Bourbon vanilla only grows in Madagascar? It is characterized by a special, uniquely sweet and rich flavor and smell, which is why it is especially loved by culinary and perfume enthusiasts. In addition, vanilla beans require very specific growing conditions as each plant needs to be processed manually, because technical solutions simply do not exist, requiring not only a lot of time but also dedication and patience.


Maybe that's why the idea of ​​four best childhood friends - Donatas, Ramūnas, Saulius and Robertas - to create a business there does not seem so crazy. The quartet, who grew up together since they were four years old, together with Donatas's father Aurelijus in 2016 accepted a close friend's offer to join a developing business - to invest in a vanilla plantation and purchase the first piece of land, just 1 hectare in size.


When the time came to go to Madagascar, Aurelijus was the first to do so and his heart was immediately conquered: “This place is heaven on earth. The country is insanely interesting and exotic, full of indescribably beautiful nature, its shores are washed by an unfathomable ocean and the locals are always ready to welcome you into their homes with a smile."


Aurelijus soon realized that he wanted to build his future with Madagascar.


Thus began a long and difficult journey in a foreign country, not knowing the language and local culture, having only a desire in his heart and an idea in his head. However, all five were very stubborn and never lost faith in their goal - the development of vanilla plantations.


The challenges of VANILECO began in the first days of the company's existence, when, without knowing the mentality of the local population called Malagasy, it was necessary to assemble a team - it took five years, but in the end a strong and advanced crew was formed, looking in the same direction and with a common goal.


Although the local culture was understood, one of the biggest challenges that remained were the roads in Madagascar, because they are practically non-existent, sometimes making the work very difficult, since 5 times a week it is needed to venture into the country to buy the materials needed for compost and mulch, and the situation is made even more difficult by the rain, in which case the roads become practically impassable, and cargo equipment has to be constantly repaired.


However, this has never stopped the VANILECO team and will not stop them - they work 7 days a week and have proven to themselves and others that the team is innovative, creative and capable of coping with all the difficulties that arise, which is why they are incredibly proud of their achievements.


They did not have to wait long for the fruits of their labor - after gathering an even bigger team of like-minded people, the area managed by VANILECO expanded to 94 hectares.

Responsibility, honesty and community

VANILECO pays the greatest attention to the quality of Bourbon vanilla - it is carefully cared for and nurtured to ensure maximum satisfaction for every customer.


Before starting to sell our products, we gathered a very strong team of agronomists and vanilla specialists, which included experts from Europe and Madagascar and thanks to them we discovered a new, more efficient way of growing vanilla and innovative compost. Thanks to these innovations, we get a larger and higher quality harvest.


However, it was not easy to achieve this, we worked towards this goal for a very long time - we created experimental gardens in which each vanilla liana was planted in a different way, using different compositions and proportions of compost and mulch for nutrition of vanilla at different seasons of the year. We observed the plant as if under a magnifying glass until we discovered the best recipe that stimulates the growth of vanilla lianas and increases the amount of vanillin in the beans. And we are currently putting a great deal of effort in creating a new, innovative way of drying vanilla, which will give the vanilla beans an even stronger aroma, a more impressive flavor and they will be characterized by an even higher amount of vanillin.


When we started the history of VANILECO, we wanted not only to establish a business, but also to leave a deeper footprint, to create not only a good product, but also a common good to benefit the community. Therefore we are proud to have been able to provide jobs to the majority of the rural population, making it possible to accumulate pensions for the locals. We also hear positive feedback from employees, because it is very important for them that the employer ensures a safe and sustainable working environment.


We also contribute to the nurturing of local schools, we try to give all rural children the opportunity to study in better conditions, we support sports teams and create a cozy, strong and close connection with the communities that thank us with endless love, warmth and gratitude.

Fitiavana, Tanindrazana, Fandrosoana


Robertas, one of the four childhood friends, was diligent and honest since he was a kid, and later gained considerable experience in agricultural management. When he received an offer to join a business in Madagascar, he did not hesitate to say yes: "I am a person who likes change and new challenges, and Madagascar sounded exactly like that."


Robertas, who recently became a father, is currently one of the directors overseeing the plantations, and his fiancee Ellia helps in this work.


Aurelijus, the managing director of the company, is responsible for the supervision and organization of work in all VANILECO plantations in Madagascar. For many years he lived in the USA, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and the United Kingdom and when asked why he chose Madagascar, he answers with a smile: "I can't live without diving, it's my passion, and since I started working in Madagascar, I can devote a lot of time to it, because we live practically by the ocean shore. Considering the fact that we are here helping the local communities, seeing the smiling children, I can confidently say that life has become more meaningful."


Seven more team members from Europe also live in Madagascar, who take care of the plantations, their safety, sustainability and technical maintenance.


Meanwhile, the main management team is based in Vilnius, it consists of Aurelijus' son Donatas, Ramūnas and Saulius, who also travel to Madagascar and spend 3-4 months a year there in order to stay in touch with the real life of the company.


People describe Donatas as always positive with a smile on his face. He is the main motivator and organizer of the team. Meanwhile, Saulius, the CFO of the company, is insanely meticulous, attentive, honest and restrained. And Ramūnas is persistent and charismatic, constantly achieves his goals. He holds the position of head of the sales department and is the main export organizer.


Our vision since the beginning of the idea has been to become one of the largest vanilla manufacturerss in Madagascar, being completely transparent, creating a sustainable, innovative farm and sharing the results achieved - the highest quality vanilla - with everyone.


VANILECO feels like home in Madagascar - we fell in love with the people, nature of this country and we want to create as much good as possible here, help children prepare for the future by receiving a proper education and contribute to the growth of Madagascar's economy.


Currently, we prepare over 100 tons of dried Bourbon vanilla per year, so our customers can be assured that their order will always reach them, but we are not resting on our laurels - we are working on expanding our plantations leading to bigger, even better products and more satisfied customers.


However, we want to tell you not only about the intricacies of our business, but also about everyday life in Madagascar - follow us on Instagram (@vanilla.vanileco) and LinkedIn (@vanileco) and join the journey of the VANILECO team - we are always shooting for the stars!

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