Alumni Feature: Rokiatou Traore Creating an Inclusive Value Chain of Moringa Involving Rural Women and Young Farmers in Mali
After discovering Moringa tea in Istanbul and its health and environmental benefits, Rokiatou decided to create an inclusive value chain for the production of Moringa in Mali. Herou Alliance now distributes Moringa products across Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Caribbean and North and Latin America regions. Meet the founder behind the innovation, Rokiatou Troare. Rokiatou is one of our Africa Innovation Fellowship 2019 Alumni.
Learn more about and from Rokiatou...
Tell us more about yourself?
My name is Rokiatou Traore. I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Herou Alliance, established in 2019. I hold a Master in Planning and Management of Organisation degree obtained at Ecole Supérieure d’Economie Rurale in Senegal, an MBA in Management of Organisations at Istanbul University in Turkey and over 4 years of professionnal experience in international sales between Turkey and over 20 African countries. After discovering Moringa tea in Istanbul and its benefits to human health and the environment, I decided to create an inclusive value chain of Moringa involving rural women and young farmers to create economic, social and environmental impacts in Africa. This project led me to be a laureate of many programmes such as Africa Innovation Fellowship (2019), One Planet Fellowship (2019), YALI Dakar Business & Entrepreneurship (2020), West African Climatic Leadership for Women (WAFRICLP-2020), Young Innovation Lab (2020), West Act Women in Africa (2020) and Access Agriculture (2021). We benefited from a sponsorship of the Malian Ministry of Job and professional training to organise Moringa day in November 2020 whereby our women cooperative proceeded to the planting of 300 Moringa trees.
What is your business about ?
Our initiative aims to make a climate-friendly economy a reality in Africa by promoting and commercialising Moringa products via an inclusive value chain involving women and young farmers in Mali. By bringing to the markets a “superfood” full of 92 nutrients and 46 antioxidants and by including women and youth in the value chain, we create economic, social and environmental impacts. The immediate effect of this project is to stop the expansion of the malnutrition killing millions of people and foster good health and well-being in the world. Moringa with its high tenor in iron, calcium, protein, zinc, vitamins A and antioxidants help the immune system to combat irreversible brain damage, chronic, venereal, cardiovascular, tropical and infectious diseases, immune deficiency caused by HIV, anemia, diabetes etc. Moringa offers abundant health benefits to pregnant women and increase their milk production after delivery, insuring quality breast milk for newborn babies.The second effect is to create economic growth and jobs for vulnerable groups in rural areas. The demand created by our moringa processing will be a catalyst for farmers to plant moringa and gain financial benefits. They will be organized into 20 registered farmer cooperatives to constitute the Moringa Actors Association in Mali (MAAM) and becomes effective Moringa suppliers capable to supply Moringa worldwide. The third effect is to stop the rapid advancement of desertification due to climate change. By planting Moringa in 12 000 ha by 2025 we will create a great carbon store, promote rapid shade cover in arid and semi-arid areas and provide poor and dried soils with natural good fertilizer.
What lessons have you learnt about being an entrepreneur?
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you began your business?
I wish I knew that entrepreneurship can be a lonely road where you can’t always count on loved ones.
Where do you see your business in the next year?
Within one year my business will :
During your time on the Africa Innovation Fellowship (AIF), what experience would you say had the biggest impact on your business?
The Business Model Canvas has the biggest impact on my business. When I was applying to AIF, my business was at the ideation stage. This material helped me to effectively work on my unique value proposition, the supply model and determine my potential customers.
Being part of the Africa Innovation Fellowship (AIF), what opportunities were you exposed to and how has this impacted your business?
As being the first programme I applied to, AIF proved that my business idea is on the right track to create impacts and be profitable. This gave me all the basics to work on my strategies and apply to other programmes such as One planet Fellowship, etc.
Regarding innovation in Africa, since your participation in AIF, are you more in tune with current developments and opportunities?
My project definitely proposes an innovation in line with Africa’s challenges today. Our green innovation deals with malnutrition, poverty of women and youth in rural areas, immigration and climate change all hindering Africa’s development.
In your opinion, what can be done in Africa to foster and promote innovation?
Young Africans should be given more opportunities to implement their innovative ideas. Africa is facing so many challenges that can be solved if young people are given technical and financial support to develop their innovations especially in French speaking African countries. Programmes like AIF should receive more Africans and fund their projects.