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Career Jessica Medza Allogo “Our products are African. I want them to be consumed in Africa”

With her Petits Pots de l’Ogooué, Jessica Medza Allogo, a petrochemical engineer, reveals unrecognized treasuries of the Gabonese terroir to the world. An entrepreneurial activity that started by accident because of her fruit gluttony.

 

Some years ago, Jessica Medza Allogo was far away to think that her greed for fruits will be the start of successful entrepreneurial activity. “I have an atypical course. I’m a petrochemical engineer. I worked for ten years for the Total group. I fell in the copper jam by accident.” Or of passion.

While she’s working for the French oil group, Jessica is expatriated in Myanmar. To keep her happy and knowing her passion for mangos, a friend gives her when she comes back a 40 kilos box of it. “The poisoned gift! What can I do with that? I put the mangos in a cool place. Of course, some of them were too ripe, so I thought about jam. That was my first time, so I watch it on the internet. This day, my mother comes back from the market with passion fruits. I had vanilla from Mauritius, some rum from Cuba. More than a jam, I’d like the idea of going around the world with those products coming from everywhere. I actually called it “Around the world in a small jam jar.” Those little jars, prepared with passion and love, are offered to her friends who quickly ask for some more. “Another day, I end up with ripe pineapples that I transform again into jam. I also give some jar. Some months after that, a friend of mine organizes an exhibition. And I think why not sell some jam. Every jar left in a few hours. People contacted me to ask for more. I was going to sleep every day at 4 am to peel fruits. At this time, I thought it could be a business. I quit my job to build this project. It was two years ago.”

 

“I promote home produces, Gabonese people are really proud of that”

 

The food business based in Gabon and named the Petits Pots de l’Ogooué (the little jar of Ogooué) from the name of a river that crosses Gabon, has the ambition to promote unrecognized treasuries of the local terroir. “We transformed them into artisanal jam. This is a top range grocery product, with a large fruit content, 75%. Today we have an 11 flavors permanent collection. Pineapples, mangos… and we extend our product range with spices, like Penja’s pepper, famous in Cameroon. I work with small local producers. I try to add value to those farmers who have post-harvest losses because there is no market for them. I buy their fruits, I transform and sublimate them with my little jam jars.” If the business is now going well, the first steps were “chaotic,” explains Jessica. “From the beginning, I try to be formal. To know I’m serious about it. So I created a company. I had a friend without any job who worked in catering, so he joined me. And even with two people, the start was chaotic. We don’t have packaging in Africa, so I emptied mayonnaise jars, and I sterilized them while my housekeeper was selling mayonnaise on the market. I was writing labels by hand. It is how it started. Even if it was not perfect, I thought that things would get better. Especially because people really liked our product, we had success even with a not-sexy packaging. We get more and more clients and notoriety. Consumers were proud that we were able to do African products as beautiful as the European ones. I promote home produces, Gabonese people are really proud of that.”

 

“How to get known internationally? How to expend our market? Get into the press? Those are our challenges”

 

After the first year, the result is excellent: 60 million of revenue, only with the local market. “Gabon is a small market, one million people, a niche. But I’m proud of our result. I traveled a lot with our products.

And there is one thing I’m convinced about: we change something. Everybody is on board everywhere I go because it is quality products, made with passion and commitment. For me, it makes the difference between two products. ”

Now the company is established locally, it has to face a new challenge: get into the international market. “We are pitted to numerous problems that African entrepreneurs know. Mainly logistic. How to send our products to other African countries? I have clients in Nigeria, but there are no roads, neither boats. The plane is too expensive to be an option. How to get known internationally? How to expend our market? Get into the press? Those are our challenges. And we are working on them.”

 

“We are an African product, and I want it to be consumed in Africa”

 

The ambition of Jessica is to go all around the world. But starting by and for her continent. “We are an African product, and I want it to be consumed in Africa. We have a buying power. We want to consume quality products. I want my jam to be eaten in Lesotho, in Senegal, in Cameroon. Because I’m Pan-African!”

 

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