African female entrepreneurs take lead in cocoa innovations
Africa is a leading continent when it comes to the production of cocoa.
Ghana and Ivory Coast together produce majority of the world’s cocoa beans but the continent struggles to rake in significant amount of money from just selling their beans in their raw state.
African entrepreneurs largely dominated by women are now taking up the challenge to add value to the cocoa beans through various innovations.
This month many of these female entrepreneurs showcased their innovations at a cocoa and chocolate expo in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Dozens of business owners from across Africa in the Cocoa industry met at the event put together by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority.
Priority was to discuss how to add value to the Cocoa beans produced on the continent.
Diverse cocoa products
Delia Carmen Diabangouya, a co-founder of Choco-Togo, a Togolese company talked about her company’s medicinal chocolate innovations.
“We have health chocolate, we call it medical chocolate that is chocolate with Moringa, with cocoa and baobab powder.
So our aim is to produce a lot of by-products of cocoa beans so people can have a large choice to find a product and integrate cocoa products in our diets,” Diabangouya told Africa Feeds.
There are other companies like Ghana’s Ohene Cocoa that specializes in growing the cocoa bean, harvesting and adding value to it.
The company is exploring and producing candles from Cocoa.
Peace Duah who is a senior supervisor said “With the Cocoa candle when you light it, you actually get that chocolate flavour in your room, then the soap we actually use the beans.
So it is very gentle on the skin, and people with skin rashes and other skin reactions, they bath it and it is so gentle on the skin.”
There are other companies also producing skin cream, cakes among others all from cocoa.
Adding value to cocoa
These innovations speak to the emerging efforts by African businesses to add value to Cocoa.
Dr. Kristy Leissle, co-founder of the Cocoaprenuership Institute of Ghana, a local learning organization was excited that young people are those taking the lead to create opportunities in the Cocoa sector.
She told Africa Feeds that “Making Chocolate is just one thing you can do with the cocoa bean.
There are so many applications of cocoa, from skin care, from medicinal uses, to give us that chocolate pleasure that we all enjoy or other kinds of taste.
To me it’s just thrilling to see so many young people now starting to think about the way they can look at cocoa as an entrepreneurial activity.”
Still challenges persist
But it hasn’t been easy for many of these African businesses. Some lack funding and the needed market.
Lucy Afari, owner of Flexy Foods says the industry has great potential but it has been challenging for entrepreneurs like herself to access cocoa bean for their products.
“Sourcing the cocoa bean and the cocoa liquor is also quite difficult for us. Most of it is meant for export. So we buy it almost at the price of export.
So we hope that we will have some of these products made at reasonable prices so that we could also afford it and make chocolate cheaper for people to enjoy,” Afari said.
These African businesses have shown the interest, desire and will to succeed in the sector, thereby creating jobs and growing the economies in Africa.
With the new African free trade area, these companies could see their markets widening in the future.