Burkina Faso: Food processing company adds value to locally-grown cassava

Florence Bassono

Faso Attiéké is a company based in Burkina Faso, which produces products from locally-grown cassava. Cassava, a root crop which looks like a large sweet potato, is one of the most widely grown crops in Africa. The company was started in March 2010. Managing director Florence Bassono (36) answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Faso Attiéké produces fresh and dried cassava couscous (attiéké). The company produced 542 tonnes of attiéké in 2019 and currently employs 50 full-time employees. We work with 500 small-scale farmers from whom we buy the cassava. We’ve differentiated ourselves from the competitors through the quality of our products and our brand image as well as our and social impact.

Faso Attiéké products

2. How did you finance your company?

I started the business on the side while still employed by another company, which gave me the ability to take out a bank loan. Later on, we also received a loan from the Fonds Burkinabè de Développement Economique et Social, a national investment fund; a grant from Luxembourg-based NGO ASTM; a loan from Initiative Ouaga, and a grant from the Danish-backed Programme for Economic Growth within the Agricultural Sector (PCESA).

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

This money would be used for the following activities:

– The strengthening of our network of 500 small-scale cassava growers
– Growing of cassava internally
– Achieving ISO 22000 certification for our products
– The relocation and industrialisation of our production unit
– To further improve the quality of our products, from cassava production to the packaging of the finished product

Production of Faso Attiéké products in progress

4. What risks does your business face?

The first risk is political instability in Burkina Faso, although the country has been stable since 2015. Terrorism is currently another threat, although we commend the government’s commitment to fighting this.

5. Tell us about your biggest mistake.

Our biggest mistake was to entrust a certain subcontractor with the transport of our goods. This company has cost us millions in lost turnover since we didn’t receive our goods on time.  The lesson from this experience is to always ensure you know a company well before working with it. However, the situation has allowed us to discover better ways of transporting our goods.

6. In addition to your own industry, name one untapped business opportunity in Africa.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are opportunities for Africa because the economic development and social progress of the region are linked to both energy security and access. Therefore, depending on the area, energy initiatives can be developed in relation to biomass, wind, solar and hydropower.

Further reading

[June 2020] Food processing company taps into health trend with millet snacks
[May 2020] Interview: Why AgVentures is betting on agrifood tech in Africa
[May 2020] Cassava gets new use in Zambia: hand sanitiser
[January 2020] Profit-making idea: Cassava processing offers unexploited potential
[July 2019] Profit-making idea: Import gluten-free cassava flour from Africa