Agri-entrepreneurship contest Transform in Cote d’Ivoire – 2021 edition results

4 agosto 2021
On 1-2 July 2021, the Foundation ran the third edition of the Transform agricultural contest in Côte d’Ivoire, following the success of the 2019 and 2020 editions. Three grants were awarded to the selected projects, based on their innovative product, their economic benefits for rural communities and their promotion of women’s inclusion.

Following the success of the 2019 and 2020 editions of the agricultural contest organized in Côte d’Ivoire by the Institut Européen de Coopération et de Développement (IECD) and Louis Dreyfus Foundation (LDF), we held this year the third edition of the contest and announced the three winners on 2 July 2021. The event was hosted at the Azalaï Hotel in Abidjan, in compliance with the Covid-19 safety and social distancing measures.

13 entrepreneurs participated in the final stage of the contest and got to present their business plans to the jury. Among the project participants this year were entrepreneurs involved in local food transformation value chains and in the production of natural fertilizers. On the final day of the contest, the jury announced the winners.

Two entrepreneurs were awarded the first prize. Ms. Férima Coulabaly, founder of the local enterprize Marifé, received a grant of 5 million francs CFA. Férima produces natural sweets. These products have multiple benefits for health, being entirely natural, rich in vitamins and without added sugar, fats or preservatives. The sweets are fruit based, produced from baobab fruit, mango, pineapple and ginger. Férima is sourcing the fruits for her production from local fruit growers, thus helping improve farmers’ livelihoods.

Mr. Hervé Dobinou and his enterprise Choco+, which produces dark chocolate, was also awarded a grant of 5 million francs CFA. Hervé produces dark chocolate that is 100% natural and without added preservatives. His business epitomizes the “bean to bar” concept, sourcing cacao beans exclusively from eight local small farms. His enterprise employs 11 workers and he has ambitious plans to extend the production line and create more job opportunities. Hervé is now involved in a project aiming to implement a traceable value chain for cocoa, and his products will be marked with a special QR code allowing to track the cocoa producer.

Ms. Mireille Tolou, from Dissoa Cajou, received a grant of 3.5 million francs CFA to further develop her production of cashew nuts. With her business, she aims not only to produce the highest quality cashew nuts but also to contribute to women empowerment along the entire cashew value chain, from the women farmers growing cashew nuts to the women employees engaged in production. Mireille is sourcing the cashew nuts from the local cooperative consisting of 150 women farmers members. Generating, thanks to her business, sustainable socio-economic benefits for the community through job creation and the provision of a fair remuneration for women cashew producers is what motivates and drives Mireille

Seven jobs have thus been created for women within her company, and her goal for the years to come is to increase her business’ production capacities and double the revenue generated.

A panel discussion on issues faced by the agricultural transformation sector in Cote d’Ivoire took place as part of the contest. As noted by Edmond Dutauziet, Louis Dreyfus Company's Managing Director of West Africa and LDF representative, the discussion attracted a lot of interest among participants and invitees and confirmed that the access to financing remains one of the main challenges for small enterprises, hampering their growth potential. Lastly, the review of the contestants’ business plans highlighted the business opportunities that could emerge from an enhanced focus on marketing strategy and commercialization plans, associated with a better understanding of consumer behavior.

LDF has been supporting agri-food entrepreneurs since 2019, with seven entrepreneurs having already benefited from a personalized support in marketing and business management. Following this year’s edition, the three new winners will in turn join the "Transform" center’s incubation program.