Members of the African Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP) and other businesswomen learned about opportunities in fair trade and organic markets and best practices in package design during an annual conference to boost exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The Trade Hub’s gender specialist, Jean-Didier Nacoulma, hosted a seminar and plenary practical skills training session at the 2017 AGOA Forum in Lomé, Togo. Approximately 80 women participated in the first session on Fair Trade and 45 in the packaging session.
During the seminar, Mr. Nacoulma explained the explosive growth in consumption of fair trade products—mainly food products—up 42.8 percent between 2015 and 2016. Sales of organic products rose from 63 percent to 74 percent of equitable products during the same period. Most of these products are also AGOA-eligible.
Participants identified Alaffia as a good model of fair trade. Created in 2003, Alaffia is made up of Togolese producers of shea butter used in the manufacture of creams, lotions and soaps in Washington State in the United States. Alaffia reinvests 10% of the benefits for poverty reduction; thus Alaffia producers are able to apply their traditional knowledge and skills to support their families.
During the skills trainings, Mr. Nacoulma provided technical guidance on packaging to members of 11 AWEP chapters present— including Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Mali, and Togo. He and Mr. Kofi Esuman, a packaging expert in Ghana, focused on how to make products more attractive.
During interactive discussions, participants compared local and imported products, focusing on labels, packaging quality, and placement in supermarkets. Mr. Nacoulma advised participants on the ideal presentation of their products within the US market.