Start-up of the week: in Burkina Faso, FasoPro puts the caterpillars in all the sauces
In Burkina, FasoPro, which markets locusts and cooked caterpillars, is now recognized as one of the most successful and award-winning start-ups in the country. The insurance and the marketing approach of its founder are for many.
“Shea caterpillar is the most protein-rich food in western Burkina Faso. It is also rich in iron and omega 3, “says Kahitouo Hien, the founder of FasoPro. Originally from western Burkina Faso, where these shea caterpillars (cirina butyrospermi) are the most consumed, the young entrepreneur had always wondered how to make the world discover their vitamin content, which he was able to study during his Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and food microbiology, completed at the University of Ouagadougou in 2009.
With the help of an entrepreneurship course during his master’s degree in environment at 2iE (International Water Institute), in Ouagadougou, he discovered the basics of business creation. The click is done right away. Kahitouo Hien decides to realize his old project of creation of a company of marketing of cooked caterpillars. “We had to set up a business project as part of a contest at 2iE,” he explains. Ours was considered ambitious, to the point that teachers recommended us to apply for Global Social Venture competition 2012. ”
Differentiate from the traditional market
This competition, which rewards the best projects of social entrepreneurship, will be the springboard of Kahitouo Hien, who wins with his friend Christophe Douyiri Mandi the special prize for the best social impact. The start-uper then strings his project for two years at the incubator of the 2iE foundation, solo this time. The eclosion finally takes place in November 2014.
The launch of FasoPro faced three main challenges. “First, the lack of technical equipment, counter-pressure sterilizers in particular, because the agro-food industry is not very developed in Burkina”. Then, it was necessary to overcome the reluctance of a part of the population, including Mossi, who make up 40% of the population. “In Ouagadougou, the managers of the shops that I was selling answered me: I do not consume them, so I do not sell them,” recalls Kahitouo Hien.
The last challenge for the start-uper was to differentiate itself from the traditional caterpillar market. Kahitouo Hien approached the Total station shops, with whom he signed a partnership to market his products. “We have set up animation booths at these stations and have participated in agro-food fairs and shows to make us known,” he says. The shops and supermarkets selling FasoPro products have increased from 50 in 2015 to 500 in 2018, in 25 localities against 2 (Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso) at the launch. The company also honors orders in France, Belgium, Canada and Japan.