Togolese entrepreneur wants to popularize West Africa’s Kinkeliba as a ‘super tea’

It’s been called the most popular of West Africa’s bush teas and is said to have various healing properties as well as a higher antioxidant level than Green tea, but it is little known outside the region. Togolese entrepreneur, Adamas Koudou is hoping to change that by processing, packaging and marketing Kinkeliba in tea bags with plans to export.

ZOLO, TOGO (REUTERS) – An entrepreneur in Togo is growing Kinkeliba – a plant consumed widely in West Africa for its medicinal and nutritional benefits with plans to market it as a tea for export.

Kinkeliba leaves and grains are said to ease blood diseases, liver ailments, digestion problems and headaches amongst other ailments, but they are not well known outside the region.

Adamas Koudou is producing his first batch of processed Kinkeliba in tea bags in the capital, Lome.

Koudou oversees the entire process, which begins with removing the grains from the pods and washing them, then drying and grinding them before packaging.

“Kinkeliba helps the liver to flush out toxins. It purifies the liver, the kidney and gall bladder to help them function at their optimal level to eliminate toxins. When you have vital organs like the lungs, liver, kidney and heart working properly, then you prevent a lot of chronic diseases. But when these organs are full of toxins then you start suffering from different conditions,” he said.

With 40 employees, the factory produces over 20,000 Kinkeliba tea boxes of 25 tea bags each a month that are sold throughout the country.

Koudou hopes that by popularising Kinkeliba as a herbal tea and modernising the way it is consumed, it can be more marketable outside of Togo and the region.

Kinkeliba is usually sold as whole leaves, which are then boiled in hot water.

“We are slowly rediscovering heritage that we had lost, and that’s why we must go back to it and celebrate it. Modernising traditional things, things that have always been part of our culture helps us rediscover ourselves. The world knows that Africa is the next big thing, but why don’t we believe in ourselves? When you believe in yourself and you approach others with your ideas, even if they criticise you or doubt you, at least you would have been able to present your product. We have given the people an opportunity to sample this product that has so many benefits and over time we have seen the benefits of that,” he added.

At this pharmacy in Lome Koudou’s Kinkeliba tea is winning positive reviews.

“I never knew I would see the day one of my Togolose brothers would take the initiative and make tea, that’s forward thinking. He took something from home, here in Togo, transformed it into powder and has made it into tea that you put in hot water. This is something to encourage. And then there is the taste, and for those who know what Kinkeliba tastes like, I invite my brothers and sisters to taste this product. It’s very good,” said Lome resident, Malam Bodi.

Koudou says his business brought in 50,000 US dollars in 2015 after just two years of operation and he hopes to grow into markets abroad.