A Salford couple are importing fair-trade superfoods from small cooperatives that aid single mothers in the Ivory Coast.
Lucia Ndongala and her husband Franck Tahou, who came from Italy to Salford to study 16 years ago and fell in love with the place, set up Saco Trading in 2016.
The idea first came to the couple after one of Frank’s visits to the Ivory Coast where he saw the potential to help the disadvantaged producers and build their business back in Salford.
Lucia said: “We both always had a passion for agriculture and natural ingredients. Also because we are both from African descent, we really wanted to do something to give back to our community.”
One story that really touched the couple’s hearts was that of Amy; a woman who was left alone to care for her four children after her husband left to find work abroad and never returned.
However there are many women in Africa that suffer similar fates and find it difficult to support their families.
Lucia said: “The whole point was to actually help these women and be a bridge to connect the women who work hard and have these wonderful products but don’t really have access to a bigger market, to the customers here.”
Now, after having two boys alongside running the business, the couple have a range of four superfood products and a small office in MediaCityUK.
Lucia reflects on the response the business received when it first started.
“The response was pleasantly surprising. In fact the first year when we started we were mostly doing the local markets around the Salford area.
“We were directly in contact with Salford residents and it was amazing to see how many people are more eager to try natural ingredients.
“We were also surprised to see how many people were touched by our story and the story of our producers . The response has been very positive for us and encouraging.”
The superfoods the pair sell are ginger flakes, dried mango, hibiscus flowers and baobab powder.
Each product is said to have health benefits although Lucia would like to emphasise they are not “miracle pills”.
She said: “One of the reasons that we have noticed that people are looking for these superfoods is simply because we are more aware of our health.
“Our customers not only come to us because of the natural ingredients but they also come because they want to make sure they know exactly where the products come from. We are able to give them this assurance.”
Featured Image credit: Rene Mcintosh