The strength of Ti Naturel is that we preserve the authentic taste of Ivorian vegetables in an innovative and sustainable way.
Marie Ange Christelle Kouassi, a born and bred Abidjan former computer engineer, had 13 years’ experience in vegetable farming before launching Ti Naturel (“It is naturel”). Her strong passion for agriculture and eagerness for mitigating post-harvest losses in the food supply chain stimulated her to create her own start-up, specialised in making vegetables concentrates from leftovers. The products she sells allow consumers to cut cooking time by 70% while eating healthy, tasty and chemical-free foods. OCHQ interviewed Marie to know more about her motivation for entrepreneurship and zeal for agriculture.
When and how did you get into the Orange Corners Programme?
I joined the third cohort of the Orange Corners programme in 2020. I saw the call for applications on Facebook and I immediately applied. Consequently, I was one of the winners of the Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF), which enabled me to receive funding for my start-up.
The Orange Corners programme allowed me to acquire versatile entrepreneurial skills, to double my production capacity to meet the local demand, to finalise my prototype and to discover another market segment, so I could make dehydrated sauces next to the regular sauces I produce. Before the programme Ti Naturel had only three employees, now we are a team of seven.
The training that Orange Corners provided was extremely useful: I learned more about the fiscal requirements of a start-up, registering my company and finding selling points in Abidjan and abroad underpinned by a salubrity certificate. Moreover, I was able to overcome the packaging problem thanks to a solution found together with the Orange Corners’ team. ’’
This is our goal: making the products of Ti Naturel a common good for a variety of customer income levels across Ivory Coast.
How does your start-up impact its direct surroundings/economy/employment? Does the start-up has a social mission?
“To date, our start-up has created 4 jobs and trained 20 vegetable growers on good agricultural practices. Our social mission is to ensure and improve food security and integrate harvesters in our distribution chain. The strongest point of our start-up is not only the collaborative aspect of our start-up and its continuous innovative outlook on agriculture, but also the fact that we have preserved the authentic taste of African vegetables in our canned sauces without using any chemicals.”
To date, our start-up has created 4 jobs and trained 20 vegetable growers on good agricultural practices. Our social mission is to ensure and improve food security and integrate harvesters in our distribution chain
What are in your opinion the company’s strengths in relation to other companies?
‘’We struggled with storing our products at room temperature as we have very warm weather in Abidjan. I did an agri-food training course to better understand the problem we faced. Now I can manage to store our products properly so they will last longer. We also encountered difficulties in finding the right packaging materials. To overcome this problem, we changed packaging during the Orange Corners programme. Overall, I am very proud of the achievements of Ti Naturel in the last year.”
Where do you see the start-up in five years? Where would you like to see ?
In the past, we have managed to sell our sauces in glass bottles to middle class consumers in Ivory Coast. Our goal in five years is to be able to make the product available and affordable for low-income people. This is our goal: making the products of Ti Naturel a common good for different customer income level in Ivory Coast, the rest of Africa and the world, making our local products known, nationally and internationally!
Facebook website : https://web.facebook.com/Ti-naturel-214785579469370
Overall, I am very proud of the achievements of Ti Naturel in the past year.
Video coverage of Marie her start-up: