Date: 19/04/2019


RAMA CEREAL is an Ivorian agro-industrial company specialising in the processing of cereals such as millet, maize and rice, supported by Comoé Capital, the first impact investment company dedicated to financing and supporting small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with high potential in Côte d'Ivoire.

We met her promoter, Aramatou Coulibaly, who in 2005 took over the management and formalized the small business founded by her mother, and now intends to take this project further thanks to the support of Comoé Capital.



Can you tells us a few words about your background?

I am the mother of three children and I have been running RAMA CEREAL since 2005. At the time, it was a small craft business founded by my mother. I was already used to marketing my mother's cereal packages. So I naturally began to become interested in the matter with the desire to improve production practices to meet the millet and maize needs of consumers.

I wanted to sell RAMA's products to local supermarkets, but at that time it was not compatible with our very traditional methods: the products were dried in the sun, there was no protection against impurities, it was impossible to work when it rained... I therefore decided to formalize the company. First I had to look for a gas dryer, despite my mother's reluctance! I identified someone who could make a small dryer with a capacity of 5kg of millet. With this new process, RAMA CERÉAL has been able to establish a partnership with PROSUMAT, the reference in mass distribution in Côte d'Ivoire. This then allowed us to enter the other Ivorian supermarkets. Today our products are available in more than 400 supermarkets.


How did you come to the meet the team of Comoé Capital?

At the end of 2016, we were put in contact through a market brokerage firm, which told us about Comoé Capital. To be honest, I didn't believe it at all at first: I had already met a lot of investors, and it had never been successful. Our turnover was still too low and the tickets offered by investors were too high for us. But the team at Comoé Capital saw the company's potential and trusted us. All this took time, but it made us want to work with them, it was very reassuring for us.


How will the partnership with Comoté Capital address the challenges of RAMA CÉRÉAL?

The main challenge is to find a new, larger building! Production capacity is our biggest challenge at the moment, even if we have already come a long way: we started with three people and 5kg of millet per day, and today RAMA has 50 employees and produces one tonne per day. But our facility is very small: the number of employees has doubled but not the facility! These are not good conditions for working: raw materials are stored right next to finished products, and are often difficult to supply. Our dryer is not big enough with a capacity of 400 to 500kg maximum. We are unable to respond to the market because demand is stronger than supply.

Thanks to the partnership with Comoé Capital, we have the necessary financing and support to meet these various challenges. Moving to new, larger and more adapted premises is our short-term priority. It will also allow us to hire more people, especially women and young people.

To improve the supply of raw materials, we want to work directly with farmers, helping them to organize themselves into cooperatives throughout the chain.


What are your medium- and long-term ambitions and projects? 

First of all, we want to expand our market in Côte d'Ivoire, because for the moment we are mainly present in Abidjan. We have several competitors but RAMA CEREAL is the market leader, we are the only ones present in supermarkets in Abidjan. We also want to expand throughout the sub-region, as well as in Europe and the United States.

Our products meet a real need. Preparing millet takes time and not everyone knows how to do it: it must be sent to the mill to grind the grains, make sure there is a way to store them, etc. Our product is ready in 10-15 minutes compared to more than two hours otherwise. It is easy to prepare and easy to consume and consumers are very happy.

Another challenge is to market infant flour: this is a real need that we have identified. The flour on the market today is corn flour, while millet is much more in demand. This is our project for next semester.


What does being a women entrepreneur mean to you?

For me, women now have more open doors than men. There are a lot of programs, seminars, training courses dedicated to women. Institutions and the State have become aware that by helping women, we are helping the family, the economy and the nation. I inherited my business from my mother... and I want to leave it to my daughter! Women are not made for cooking, they are more determined than men and are more successful!

I am also very committed to the employment of women, and RAMA CERÉAL currently counts more than 80% of women among its employees. It is an important social commitment, which allows us to fight poverty in our own way. Many of them are alone and we know that this money is being used for their children in particular.


Any advice for young entrepreneurs? 

I encourage them: nothing is easy! I started at 3kg of millet, without funding, I had to knock on all the doors. You have to be persistent, you will inevitably move forward and achieve your objectives. You have to trust and believe in what you are doing, have courage!


Facebook page of the company

Comoé Capital's website