The future is bright for Yamila Franco

Each year, more than 500 million toxic, non-recyclable glow sticks end up in landfills and oceans.

Yamila Franco and Paige Whitehead, two University of Victoria graduates, knew there had to be a better option for the environment. They co-founded Nyoka Design Labs to create the world’s first bioluminescent, non-toxic and plastic-free glow stick.

Now based in Courtenay on Vancouver Island, the social enterprise employs seven people in B.C. The women-led, highly diverse team recently launched their first product, LÜMI – a durable, reusable and very bright glow stick.

Yamila beams as she describes how Nyoka Design Labs leverages clean technology to create an eco-friendly alternative for consumers and organizations, including concert goers, humanitarian aid groups, the military and search & rescue teams.

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Yamila is a proud Afro-Indigenous woman who was among 31 recent participants in W Venture, a Digital Technology Supercluster project focused on supporting women of all backgrounds to successfully launch and grow their tech-related ventures.

In addition to developing lasting relationships with other ambitious women, Yamila honed her business skills in W Venture’s nine-month program. In particular, she created a strategic plan for her organization that serves as “our north star and a long-term goal our team can all work toward.”

Learn more about Nyoka Design Labs here.