Social and Employment
Town of Tsévié and village of Kélizio (Togo)
€3,000, third prize of the 2017 Student Solidarity Awards
€5,000 at the selection committee meeting on 21 October 2019
The wonderful story of the Yokoumi project began in May 2016. In the small village of Kelizio, Togo, a group of women shea butter producers met Elsa, a student, then on an internship. Together they came up with the idea of developing a fair trade approach. The idea was to promote their expertise and market their product in France. But above and beyond their own initiative, the women also wanted to develop the widest possible local economic and social fabric. Right at the beginning of the adventure, the decision was made to inject 20% of the profits generated by the sale of the products into a microcredit programme. The Togolese association "Solidarité Enfance et Vie" was appointed to manage it. Loans of around €70 are granted to women who want to start their own business in sewing, hairdressing, cooking and other activities.
When shea butter rhymes with success
In France, a team of students from Sciences Po Toulouse joined Elsa. In Togo, Délali Adedje, a young Togolese woman with a degree in development economics, became involved in the project’s local coordination. In 2017, Yokoumi began helping the group of women producers set up a proper cooperative. The same year, the association received the 3rd prize in the Veolia Foundation Student Solidarity Awards. Little by little, the network of distributors of shea products has expanded. And in 2018, already 30 micro-loans had been granted to Togolese women entrepreneurs, financed thanks to Yokoumi's work. In September 2019, two people will devote themselves to the association full-time.
In 2020, even further…
Of course, Yokoumi's slogan, "combining beauty and solidarity", has already served the cause of young Togolese women entrepreneurs well. But the association does not intend stopping there. With the renewed support of the Veolia Foundation, the association is strengthening its production capacity by equipping itself with a mill to process shea nuts.
Yokoumi is also aiming to obtain an "organic" label for the products with a view to penetrating a number of promising markets. Finally, access to a "fair trade" label will strengthen its legitimacy and attractiveness in this market segment.