Côte d’Ivoire: Gninlnagnon Koné dreams of supplanting the leading players in food supplements in Côte d’Ivoire with his Chérubins baby formula

Cherubins formula is made from brown or black rice, which is high in fibre and also an excellent antioxidant
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, May 10, 2023/ — Even as a child, Gninlnagnon Koné , a young man from Katiola in north central Côte d’Ivoire, liked to follow his parents, who grew tubers and maize, to their farm.

Today, an engineer in agricultural business management, he says, “When I became an engineer, I realised that our agricultural producers still face the same difficulties with processing their products. People work hard but ultimately their products are undervalued and sell poorly. It made me want to change things. I decided to process these products to create added value and give farmers the chance to live a better life from the fruits of their labour,” he explains.

He too tried hard to set up an agricultural business without success. That is, until he encountered the Enable Youth Côte d’Ivoire project.

“My sole idea in coming to the Higher School of Agronomy (ESA) in Yamoussoukro, the country’s political capital, was to get access to tools that would enable me to become a real agricultural entrepreneur as I’ve always dreamed,” he says, standing in front of a machine that roasts tiger nuts and maize.

Koné’s food supplement for babies—named Cherubins— is a formula based on rice and tiger nuts. It also contains agricultural ingredients that set it apart from other food supplements available in Côte d’Ivoire, a market dominated by major brands, as Koné – good salesman that he is – hastens to add.

“The product is a fortified infant formula, made with 100% highly nutritious local agricultural products. It complies with all World Health Organization (WHO) standards in terms of infant nutrition. And it’s identical to all the imported infant formulas that flood our markets,” he explains.

“It’s an alternative we’re offering to mums to ensure that children transition safely from breastmilk to solid food,” adds Koné.

Packed in 200g bags and then into attractive little blue boxes decorated with tiger nuts and grains of rice, Cherubins formula is made from brown or black rice, which is high in fibre and also an excellent antioxidant.

The rice is combined with other locally produced cereals, such as tiger nuts and soya. This adds lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, he explains.

“We also add mineral and vitamin supplements derived from other local products, such as roselle, moringa, carrot, mango and sometimes ginger to give the formula – which tastes amazing – a special flavour,” Koné adds.

“We researched the market for infant formulas and developed a strategy to enable us to penetrate the market by meeting consumer expectations. We’re now ready to tackle it, with a well-honed strategy, solid market research and a number of test products. It all points to our being able to compete with the products already on the market,” he explains.

Set up by the government of Côte d’Ivoire with funding from the African Development Bank, the Enable Youth project is a national programme that seeks to attract young people into the agricultural sector. Its primary aim is to support young graduates to create businesses all along the agricultural value chain.

As well as offering a six-month training course, the project will provide partial funding for 20 young entrepreneurs to set up their businesses.

Subsistence agriculture plays an important role in the economy of Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading cocoa producer. The authorities now want to see agricultural products processed locally to create added value for the country’s economy which, with over 7% annual growth since 2013 – excluding the Covid-19 years – remains one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

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