The entrepreneurial woman we have today is truly inspiring. She has established her own brand of local products based on shea, and her success is undeniable. We’ve prepared a series of questions to get to know her better and understand her entrepreneurial journey. She is Ekoima Pierrette, the founder of Toke-n’sa.

1-How did you come up with the idea to create your brand of local products based on shea? Why shea specifically?

Shea is my heritage. I grew up watching my mother and aunts produce it. By launching Toke-n’sa, the goal was to shine a light on a product that had long been marginalized, to rehabilitate it in a way. I just want to share my heritage in the best possible way.

2-What is the story behind the name of your brand?

Toke-n’sa is my first name. It means “We are equal.” It’s perfect. I didn’t have to look far.

3-What challenges did you face in creating your business or brand?

One of the biggest challenges is educational. It required, and still does, learning, demonstrating, and showcasing the value of shea butter and the tremendous work done by the producers, their socio-economic impact in our communities. It’s a constant effort to remind people that shea butter is not a byproduct to be enjoyed at a bargain.

4-What are the benefits of working with local products and promoting shea?

I wouldn’t call them benefits. I would say duty and pride. At least for me. The only advantage to note, in my case, is that I don’t have to make much effort to know my product. It is a part of me, my history, and the history of the women in my family.

5-Can you tell us about your manufacturing process and the quality of your products?

Oh la la. We won’t have enough space for me to describe all that here. And that’s also the work I do on Toke-n’sa’s social media. Transmission through imagery. In the main steps: harvesting, drying, roasting, grinding, and cooking. Each of these steps strictly adheres to rules for quality shea.

6-How did you manage to make your brand known and stand out in the market?

By simply sharing the know-how of the producers, sharing my product creation process, and staying as close as possible to those who make Toke-n’sa (my loyal customers).

7-In which African countries do you market your products?

Togo, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal.

8-What advice would you give to women looking to venture into entrepreneurship?

Dare. Take action with the means at hand. Adjust your course as you go.

9-What are your future plans for your business and your brand of local products?

Haha. It’s confidential. But they say Toke-n’sa never disappoints.

10-Can you tell us about the environmental impact of your products and the measures – you take to minimize their ecological footprint?

First of all, Toke-n’sa is a minimalist conceptual brand. We only produce the essentials, and our collections are often limited editions. We do not promote overconsumption. Also, the entire shea butter production chain is a condensed lesson in recycling. Here, it is a way of life to respect nature and Mother Earth.

11-What do you expect from 2024 for your brand?

More lives transformed thanks to Toke-n’sa shea.

12-As a promoter of local products, do you think the “buy local” campaigns have been effective so far?

It’s a good reminder for citizens. However, I do not actively participate in the campaigns. Therefore, I cannot testify honestly and concretely about their effectiveness.

Interview conducted by: Pélagie Blewussi.

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