admin | April 24, 2017
Stéphane Kouam’s business started with just a coconut and a knife. But four years later, he produces seven different flavours of coconut chips, and listens closely to his loyal customers for suggestions on new flavours and changes to his recipe.
In 2013, Mr. Kouam thought about starting his own business processing coconuts. He recalls, “The challenge was to find the market—and a tool that would enable me to make the coconut chips.”
After searching at several markets in both Yaoundé and Douala, he finally found a blacksmith and worked with him to design a knife which is perfect for slicing coconuts thinly.
To make coconut chips, Mr. Kouam drains the coconut milk and removes the tough outer shell. Then he cuts the coconut into thin slices and dries it. Finally, he packages the resulting chips in plastic.
The company is called Micam and started with just one flavour in 2013. Mr. Kouam recalls, “I had just one product. It was good, crunchy, and just needed good packaging.”
He adds, “We worked this way for six months with the objective of making the product known. In 2016, we introduced four products with different flavours: original, cocoa, caramel, and vanilla.”
Also in 2016, their customers asked for a substitute for sugar. The company listened and started to use honey as a natural sweetener.
Mr. Kouam says: “We continued to work and we took into consideration the demand from the market, which told us which flavours people like. We got orders for coconut chips with other flavours, such as strawberry, coffee, banana, [other] fruits, and chocolate. We tested the product each time, and before the end of 2016, we were able to produce coconut chips with strawberry and coffee flavours.”
He now works with two employees, as well as his wife. Joelle Kouam says: “Many people would like to eat processed coconut chips. People normally sell coconuts on the dusty roads. But here, not only is the coconut transformed into chips, but it’s tasty and is easy to eat. It’s well packaged and trouble-free.”
Today, with his business in full swing, Mr. Kouam markets his coconut chips in a small paper box, with his brand and the flavour marked on the outside.
The business was slow to take off, but with good marketing and by listening to customers, Mr. Kouam knows he has a product that will sell. He says, “We didn’t need millions to start with. We needed to find a good idea in which we believed. We have to be committed to it and fight each day.”
This story is based on a video from AgribusinessTV, called “Cameroon: Coconut chips in different flavours.” To watch the full video, go to: http://en.agribusinesstv.info/Cameroon-coconut-chips-in-different-flavours_v115.html