In Togo, where 100% of the cacao production has historically been exported, one company is looking to change that narrative and bring new economic hope to the country. ChocoTogo, an inspirational company led by entrepreneur Nathalie Gambah Kpante, is proving that a bean to bar chocolate producing philosophy can bring economic hope and prosperity to a country.
LoA chatted to the inspirational Nathalie Kpante about this high impact business that is changing lives.
What does your company do?
At Chocotogo, we specialize in the promotion, production, processing and marketing of cocoa beans. We produce handmade chocolate with organic cocoa and local crops as peanut, coconut and ginger. We are also involved in promoting the empowerment of women and girls in the cocoa industry in Togo.
"We produce handmade chocolate with organic cocoa and local crops as peanut, coconut, ginger. We are also involved in promoting the empowerment of women and girls in the cocoa industry in Togo."
What inspired you to start your company?
The cooperative Chocotogo is the first company to process cocoa beans in Togo. During more than 150 years since the introduction of cocoa in Togo during the colonial era, 100% of the cocoa production was exported. Chocotogo looks to extend the value chain by producing Togolese chocolates made with local ingredients. We help cocoa farmers to discover that they are producing a highly valuable crop and they should keep the quality higher. Many cocoa farmers don’t know anything about chocolate and how it is made, so we enlighten them about the importance of the cocoa beans they are producing. Today, thanks to our initiative, the story of an entire sector and country has changed and cocoa farmers have hope.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We produce a yummy, natural dark chocolate made with organic Togolese cocoa beans. We flavor our chocolates with exotic ginger, coconut and peanuts. If you want to taste the genuine cocoa beans of Togo, then try our roasted cocoa beans, and for baking use try our wonderful cocoa paste.
Chocotogo also allows a better remuneration for planters thanks to the reduction of transport costs allowed by the proximity of the manufacturing unit. And also for the improvement of the living conditions of local households by the contribution of the women in the community who are employed for the shelling of the beans. On the local consumer side, Chocotogo creates affordable access to high quality chocolate which has a high cocoa content (60 to 100%).
"Today we are changing the economic story of our country which for many years relied just on exporting cocoa beans."
Tell us a little about your team
Chocotogo is led by young Togolese team who are willing and interested in adding value to our crops. We are a cooperative created by youth with diverse educational backgrounds which include psychology, sociology, finance, project management, quality management, etc.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I started my agribusiness journey at a young age. Whilst I was studying at University, I started my first real business by processing peanut with caramel into candies. Here in Togo, we usually call it ''Louga''. I was a wholesaler and many people took my products to sell in the marketplace. At the same time, I used to work with an NGO so that I could acquire the necessary skills needed to open my own enterprise after I completed my degree. In my family every body is an entrepreneur. My parents were employees in public sector but they also have their own businesses. It's the same for my brothers and sisters. So since our childhood, we learned how to create wealth and work hard.
"I would like Chocotogo to be a great inspiration in Africa and all over the world, and to train the youth of cocoa producing countries across the African continent in the business of cocoa processing."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I would like Chocotogo to be a great inspiration in Africa and all over the world, and to train the youth of cocoa producing countries across the African continent in the business of cocoa processing.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur you solve problems in your community. We create wealth and joy for many families. Today we are changing the economic story of our country which for many years relied just on exporting cocoa beans.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
My advice is to know your identity as a women, as an African, and as a human being. It's the thing that will help you achieve your vision, despite all the challenges.
Contact or follow Chocotoga
Why LoA loves it….
It’s often said that Africa’s entrepreneurs have the vision and the capability to make real economic change happen on the continent, and in the case of Nathalie Kpante, that is certainly the case. Her company, Chocotogo, is making a real impact by extending the value chain of the cacao industry in Togo so that it brings real economic opportunities to the communities who are involved in its production. Nathalie and the Chocotogo team are a great example of the impact that can happen when you have the vision and the will to make real economic change happen by challenging existing ways of doing things. Chocotogo is definitely a business and brand to follow over the coming years. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa