By marketing shea caterpillars, Kahitouo Hien’s ambition is to prevent malnutrition while protecting and developing local resources.
In September 2014, the first ‘Toumou Délice’ packets, containing sterilised whole raw caterpillars, with a shelf life of 18 months, were marketed in Burkina Faso. This is a success for Kahitouo Hien, who designed and implemented this project while studying at the Institut international d’ingénierie de l’eau et de l’environnement (2iE), an engineering school in Ouagadougou.
Hien was used to eating caterpillars as a child and liked it. In Burkina Faso, caterpillars are collected by women between July and September, then dried and sold in markets. When Hien discovered that this insect contains up to 63% protein and is rich in iron and omega 3, he decided to exploit caterpillar nutritional potential to prevent malnutrition. Caterpillars are a common part of the diet in the country but also a seasonal product, so the challenge was to find a way to preserve them for a year. In 2012, when still a student, he won the prize for best social impact at the Global Social Venture Competition organised by the University of Berkeley in the US, and subsequently received managerial, legal and technical support from 2iE’s project incubator. This enabled him to set up Fasopro and market the first ‘Toumou Délice’.
The way Fasopro is funded is also innovative. In early 2014, the new start-up asked for €10,000 in funding. Thanks to a campaign on a crowd-funding website, the company successfully raised money towards a large-scale development in 2015. The marketing of ‘Toumou Délice’ packets is a first step. To treat and not only prevent malnutrition, Fasopro is working on new nutritional products especially for children under five and pregnant women. About 15,000 women and children should benefit from these products after the fourth year of operation. As the company develops, it will help to strengthen the shea sector and generate new sources of income for hundreds of rural women who will collect caterpillars.