A small Salford food business is supporting food production from over 3,000 miles away in Africa.
SACO Superfoods is a small social enterprise by Lucia Ndongala and Franck Tohou, that is helping producers in the Ivory Coast by importing their goods to sell here in Salford.
Both have roots to Africa but very much class themselves as Salfordians now having lived here almost two decades.
The small business imports ethically sourced natural ingredients directly from the Ivory Coast to use in their products that they sell online and in their store in Broughton.
This supports the small-scale producers in Ivory Coast by working directly with them by providing them with an income in order to try to improve things, as Lucia explains.
She said: “We work directly with them so that the benefits are that we are able to listen and learn from them. We learn about how the production works, what are the challenges, the benefits and what are the needs they may have.
“We also pay what they are asking us for. We don’t impose a price like many big corporations do. In some cases, we pay them double what they are asking.
“The great thing about it is as us as a business grow, they grow with us as we order more products from them which increases their production.
“The impact is direct. You can see the increase in income is uplifting the livelihood in their own communities.”
The duo started SACO Superfoods just over four years ago, with the inspiration coming from seeing the effects of the nutritious ingredients had on their own health.
After then meeting a local producer in Ivory Coast and seeing the struggles with selling their goods, it convinced Lucia and Franck that starting the business was the correct idea.
The business grew from selling the products at markets and festivals to where they are now, with them opening a shop on Bury New Road in July last year.
Some foods on offer in the shop include Ginger Flakes, Moringa Powder and Dried Mango, all that include ingredients from Africa. These foods have many health benefits as explained by Lucia in the video below.
Both Lucia, a former lecturer at the University of Salford, and Franck now work and live here and the couple very much see themselves as part of the Salford community.
This has inspired them to not only support communities back where they grew up, but also to start to help people here.
Franck said: “We’ve been living here since 2003, working here, studying here, our boys were born here so we’re practically Salfordians.
“So yes, it’s great helping our cooperative back home in Ivory Coast by impacting upon the livelihood there but in time what we’re trying to do as well is to get more involved here in the community in Salford.
“In terms of helping the youth, for instance, with the Kickstart Programme where we can help them passing on the experience, opportunity and knowledge that we have.
“Not only that but with other programmes that we want to do in terms of community cohesion. I think it’s important to say that this is our vision that we have but we live here.
“Yes we have this extraordinary product with all the benefits that our customers experience, but we also think what else can we do to help the community.
“We have people coming for training in digital marketing and we’re just trying to help people get back into working life. This is something very crucial. This is something were we’re trying to connect back to the community here.”
The business has also recently attracted attention from the authorities, with Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett visiting earlier in the week.
It was fantastic to briefly pop along to social enterprise: SACO Superfoods @Sacosuperfoods today on Bury New Road & learn about their work supporting the local community & small-scale women producers in West Africa. Thank you Franck & Lucia for making me so welcome. #❤️Salford pic.twitter.com/0Mu92gy7n6
— SalfordMayor (@salford_mayor) December 14, 2021
As well as the shop, Salfordians can also have items delivered from SACO Superfoods for free if they live within a five mile radius, but SACO also deliver to all parts of the globe.