Meet our Team


Our Founders


Imelda Echavarria

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Imelda is Proaji’s dedicated team leader. She studied biology at Tufts University and co-founded Proaji with Phillip. Imelda balances her pragmatism and effectiveness with a focus on team collaboration to accomplish Uchu’s goals. She has an insatiable curiosity about the world and its people reminding everyone around her to ask questions and learn more about our society and the world at large. Imelda loves reading, scuba diving and yoga.


Phillip Baker

Co-Founder and General Manager

Phillip’s journey began with studying horticulture at Murray State University and working with his family in Colombia. After meeting Imelda, he moved to Ecuador and co-founded Proaji. Since childhood, Phillip has been exposed to the history of the chili pepper, its development and markets, and has deep knowledge of the Capsicum family. He brings new ideas and projects to Uchu, while inspiring our team to build, innovate and improve both professionally and personally. To satisfy his creative mind, Phillip enjoys diving and sailing, and going on long, long, long runs.


Tania Escobar

Plant Manager | since 2013

Tania started working in Proaji as an intern and is now our plant manager. She is in charge of all projects and activities in our processing plant. She is detailed oriented and demands our best each and every day, while also encouraging us to grow and improve professionally. In her free time she likes playing basketball and boxing.


Andrea Zambrano

R&D, Quality control | since 2016

Andrea is responsible for all quality control processes in our lab. While wearing her almost astronaut-looking outfit, she perfectly measures the scovilles and humidity levels of our chilis. We admire her creativity and dedication to produce high quality products and appreciate her kindness and friendliness with all employees. She enjoys spending time with her family and going to the beach.


Nora Naranjo

Agriculture Coordinator | since 2018

Nora promotes the planting and harvesting of our myriad of chili spices. She works directly with farmers, and promotes sustainable agricultural practices. Thanks to her patience and ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, she supports farmers in their agricultural pursuits. In her free time she enjoys cooking, knitting, designing clothing and making arts and crafts.


Valeria Freire

Sales | since 2017

Vale started working with us as an intern. Now she is in charge of all commercial transactions. Vale is detail oriented, hardworking and diligent and is our shipping genius! She manages to plan all of our export logistics in a timely manner to countries all over the world. When she is not figuring out how to get a chili container from one location to the next, she likes to watch movies, spend time with her family, and dance.


Javier Zambrano

Plant Supervisor | since 2009

Javi has been promoted through every job position in our processing plant. Because of his experience, he can manage and coordinate all production activities in a fluid and efficient way. His hard work has allowed for him to grow in Proaji, and he now supervises all our processes to produce high-quality chili products. Javi seems shy, but when it comes to getting his work done, he brings everyone together and puts our people and machines to work.

Paul Vallejo

Head of Agriculture | Since 2015

Paúl manages our agricultural department. He is strategic and values teamwork, and is constantly providing ideas, new goals, and projects for our team. He brings people together, and motivate us to achieve our goals and work smoothly as a team that embraces confidence, unity and creativity. On his days off, he spends time with his friends and family, plays basketball, and when inspired, he writes.


We have an amazing team in our offices, our factory, and out in the fields.

They work hard every day to bring our peppers to the world, offering a positive impact to our farmers and to the planet. We couldn’t do it without each and every one of them.