Entrepreneur Invents ‘Ice Cream’ and More In 2006, when Eguida Djigbodi invented Fodio, a tasty frozen treat similar to ice cream, she demonstrated remarkable entrepreneurial ingenuity. “I thought to myself, ‘How can I introduce Fodio to others?’ so that they can enjoy its health benefits,” says Djigbodi. In the tropical heat of Lomé, the delightfully nutritious frozen creation made from the indigenous fonio cereal, mixed with milk and honey, became an instant hit. Djigbodi’s entrepreneurial career was launched years earlier as a college student assigned the task of developing “a product that would be lucrative.” Growing up in Okpako, she enjoyed the rural staple ‘fonio’ for breakfast and decided that it would be her best commercial product.
IFDC’s 1000s+ project is helping “Mesifa,” Djigbodi’s registered company, improve its packaging for “Super Fonio’ and her latest creation ‘Ma Sauce.’ Ma Sauce is a seasoned soy-based mix for making quick sauces which has proven popular wherever it is introduced. 1000s+ support in advertising her products on radio spots and in print ads has also increased their popularity. “My products are in all the Lomé supermarkets and I am making plans to also distribute in Benin,” she says.
A Togolese woman creates, processes and markets three cereal-based
In compliance with commercial regulations, she had the fonio tested for its nutritional content, affirming her belief in the cereal’s natural health benefits. Nonetheless, the main challenge in processing the cereal was the removal of sand naturally intertwined with the fine grain. To address this, she hired a woman familiar with the meticulous cleaning technique.
To boost sales and better appeal to consumers, 1000s+ is also helping Djigbodi to colorfully repackage her frozen treat, Fodio. In addition, 1000s+ is assisting in the development of insulated pous-pous carts to sell the frozen Fodio packets. Djigbodi now envisions her product being sold on busy streets throughout Togo.
Her first major customer was her university’s cafeteria, but she became frustrated when her university delayed in making payments. “I had to wait for them to go through a lot of red tape before I got any payment,” she recalls. However, the popularity of the food on her campus made her seek customers elsewhere. When she learned of a World Bank project encouraging the use of plastic bags for packaging, she decided to attempt this with the fonio. She filled plastic bags with fonio and with a photocopied paper slip identifying her product as ‘Super Fonio’ and providing instructions for its preparation. This process allowed her to place her product almost anywhere for sale.
Increased popularity has resulted in an increased need for her raw material, fonio. To satisfy Mesifa’s fonio needs, 1000s+ helped link Djigbodi to a farmer’s organization near the town of Atkpame. The farmers contracted to supply her with 320 kilograms of high quality fonio at a mutually acceptable price.