Atacora’s efforts to encourage ownership and investment among stakeholders can be seen as an enhancement of the Fair Trade Principles. Our mission is not to make these small isolated communities dependent on us, but rather to build their capacity and knowledge to operate a business and thus have enhanced ownership of their futures. All proceeds from sales in the regional African market go directly to the co-op, furthering enhancing our Fair Partnership model.
A TRUE STORY FROM ONE OF ATACORA’S BAOBAB PRODUCERS
Mister N’Tcha Nicolas and his lovely wife Tchieta Colette make up one of our Baobab producer families in Kounacogou.
They have 13 Baobab trees, and have seen that it is to everyone’s advantage to sell their fruit to Atacora. I met them on a recent market day in Boukombé and came to better understand what their relationship with Atacora means to them.
They were dressed in their ‘Sunday Best’ for their jaunt to the biggest village in the region, and came together on an old bicycle. They saw me sitting on a log near the Atacora office, and know exactly who I am: a founding partner of Atacora. They greeted me so kindly, as is the local tradition. This really makes me feel at home. They explained that they sold us Baobab Fruit last year, and that the proceeds were delivered immediately, helping to resolve a number of household issues such as access to health care and help with the expenses of sending their children to school.
Having seen that sticking to organic production methods earns a better price, and having attended Atacora’s village production trainings, Nicolas said that he is happy to learn how best to supply Atacora.
Colette told me that with her advancing age, the laborious work to transform the fruit into powder and seeds, and the long trek on foot to market to sell the products for weak prices was wearing her out. Since Atacora offers a better return on just the primary material than she could get for the transformed products after all of the work, she thanked me for putting together a structure that brought such benefit to her household and her community.
This is a complicated and difficult business to be in, but on days like this, when I meet with producers and get first-hand accounts of the positive impact that Atacora is having on rural African communities, I am reminded of why I work so hard, and I am HAPPY!