Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading cocoa producer, generates 26 million tonnes of waste from this crop every year. When the cocoa beans are exported, the empty pods are abandoned in the plantations and cause diseases there. An alarming situation that has prompted Ivorian entrepreneur Ollaset Ahouo to act. Through her cosmetics brand Cabo Samlan, she valorises cocoa waste.
After 11 years of working alongside cocoa-growing communities, Ollasset came to the conclusion that cocoa pods emptied of their beans and abandoned in the fields cause diseases that ravage the crops. So, as a coffee and cocoa advisor for Anader and a facilitator in agriculture, the graduate in agriculture decided to solve two problems at once: reducing cocoa farming waste and helping people discover its cosmetic virtues. This is how Cabo Samlan came about. Cabo Samlan, which means “cocoa soap”, was launched in 2020 with a wide range of natural skincare products, ranging from bath soaps, shampoos and shaving foam etc, all at affordable prices.
Over time, Cabo Samlan developed a loyal community of customers who share common values in terms of health, well-being and sustainability. Ollaset Ahouo: “What’s special about our products is that, as well as giving value to the empty cocoa pods, we use the know-how of our mothers in the African beauty rituals. We have a set of natural and effective products to take care of you on a daily basis.”
“The beginnings were difficult. We had to deal with a long artisanal process without means, little known, accidents even happened to us. We were limited to small productions in order to maintain the quality of our products,” she recalls. Despite all these challenges, the young company has seen rapid growth, largely thanks to its quality products. In addition, it works with local producers to source raw materials, thus helping to support rural communities. Today, it employs 10 people. Even if the competition is tough alongside giants in the cosmetics sector, this market is still expanding.
In 2022, the committed brand joined the 6th cohort of the Orange Corners Côte d’Ivoire programme, implemented by Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESP). It was eventually awarded the Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF) prize, a reward that should help it develop its business. The next step? “To assert our presence on the national and international market in order to increase our capacity to recycle cocoa pods. To do this, we will follow our action plan that we developed thanks to the Orange Corners programme.”
Ollasset Ahouo is a shining example of how entrepreneurship can be used to address social and environmental challenges. Her story is a reminder that anyone can make a difference, no matter how small.Télébo Soundélé, Programme Manager Orange Corners Côte d’Ivoire
“My time with Orange Corners allowed me to refine my project, to take into account aspects that I had underestimated. I was trained, equipped and coached to better manage the company. Our current turnover is not comparable to what we were doing in the past!” she adds. Her advice? Believe in yourself, get trained and accept that you can make mistakes.
Follow Ollasset’s Cabo Samlan online: