“Promoting local production and consumption,” says Edwige when asked about the objective of her trademark “Terroirs d’Afrique” – which, in English, means Soils of Africa.
Edwige is a Togolese entrepreneur who left behind a career in finance to contribute to promoting African heritage. How? By embracing African’s local natural products! These include honey, natural oils, tea, coffee and traditional wines and liquor.
Terroirs d’Afrique does this by providing local producers with the necessary support for production, meeting the highest standards, and promoting these locally-made products.
We spoke to Edwige for one of our Rootencial Conversations episodes. And below are some of the main messages we took with us from the chat:
1. Local production is as important as local consumption:
Edwige found that many products on the shelves of her local supermarket in Kinshasa contained ingredients from Africa, but which had been processed and packaged overseas and then re-imported. Through helping African producers connect with local markets through the Terroirs d’Afrique trademark and packaging, she helps to boost local production and consumption of high-quality natural products.
2. Africa contains boundless high-quality natural products to be proud of:
It’s time to deconstruct the idea that high quality goods are only imported, Edwige says. There is remarkable natural wealth to be tapped into across Africa: organic, healthy, and exceptional quality products exist, that Africans can consume with pride. Promoting this ‘mind shift’ has been easier in some places than others, she says, and may take some time.
3. Narratives matter, particularly when competing with the ‘global giants’:
Multinational corporations like Coca Cola have a ubiquitous global presence and brand recognition, underpinned by huge marketing budgets. It’s harder for the smaller brands – like Terroirs d’Afrique – or the farmers and small local producers they partner with, to compete or get the same reach. These smaller players therefore need to depend on a compelling narrative to connect with African target consumers: for Terroirs d’Afrique, building pride in the quality of Africa’s natural products is key to this.
4. Harness your previous experiences when making the leap into entrepreneurship:
Edwige quit her job in the banking sector just three weeks before this interview! While she has never previously been an entrepreneur, in her old job she met a lot of business owners. She’s been able to use those experiences and interactions to guide her work with Terroirs d’Afrique, which started as a hobby and is fast becoming her main focus
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