“Aid is in vain if it ultimately does not lead to self-sufficiency and sustainability, and Africare embodies this philosophy.”
Africare and the fair trade, environmentally friendly beauty company, Shea Touch, began a partnership in 2012 to establish a sustainable value-chain for shea butter producers in southern Chad. Olivier Agouna-Deciat, one of the founders of Kasny Recon, Inc., the parent company of Shea Touch, talked to us about what motivates him and his company to partner with the non-profit sector.
Tell me a little bit about Shea Touch.
Our Founders: Olivier & Sidonie Agouna-Deciat, Nanga Kaye, Pinakeen & Kailash Patel and Laagabka Tchindebbe.
Our Location: 2100 North HWY 360, Suite 1001, Grand Prairie, TX 75050 with branches in Chad and India.
Shea Touch® is a trademark of Kasny Recon, Inc. (KR). Founded in 2007 by myself and my associates, KR now prides itself in the crafting of superior quality skin and hair care products made with pure Chadian shea butter. With backgrounds in biomedical sciences, pharmacy, cosmetology and agronomy, my wife Sidonie Agouna-Deciat and I, and our partners Pinakeen Patel, Nanga Kaye, and Laagabka Tchindebbe are pursuing a common dream. This dream was to develop a unique business that adds value to precious natural resources and offers innovative finished products that are efficient and sustainable, benefiting all parties involved in the process. With Shea Touch®, we are living that dream.
Using premium shea butter from our home country of Chad and other top quality and functional natural ingredients from the U.S., India, Brazil and other places around the world, we have successfully developed a variety of products for every day and specialty skin and hair care. Shea Touch® was dreamed from scratched, evolving from Sidonie’s and my kitchen into a global operation including a shea butter production plant in Chad, a raw material research and procurement unit in India, and a laboratory and manufacturing facility in Texas. Shea Touch® offers a natural and healthy alternative for your personal care coupled with the great feeling of giving back to society through KR’s continuous development and empowerment efforts.
How did you hear about Africare?
I remember Africare as a non-governmental organization present in Chad while I was growing up there, but I never knew much about all the great things that they were doing. We were formally introduced to Africare by His Excellency Mark Boulware, the U.S. Ambassador to Chad. Ambassador Boulware knew of Shea Touch® through his colleague, His Excellency Maitine Djoumbe, the Chadian Ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Boulware strongly suggested that we connect with Africare.
Mrs. Mona Davies, Program Manager of Enterprise Development and Gender at Africare, reached out to us, and before long we were on our way to visit the Chad project management team at Africare House in Washington, D.C. We all quickly came to the sentiment that we had much in common when it came to producers’ empowerment and local economic development. Since our initial meeting, we have partnered with Africare and are now jointly working on furthering the shea processing capacity and level of international market readiness for a growing number of women’s co-operatives in the shea producing region of southern Chad.
What made you decide to donate to Africare?
The initial contact with Africare gave me the opportunity to learn more about this organization from my childhood. I researched and read about what the organization stood for, and what they’ve accomplished. Many of Africare’s achievements in Africa, particularly in Chad, are exemplary! I found that Africare gives a great deal of attention to the importance of sustainability, a key factor which led me to the decision that collaboration would be mutually beneficial. We at Kasny Recon believe our collaboration will achieve both business and social impact goals and will be critical for women entrepreneurs in Chad. Our goal is to partner with women to create small to mid-size, sustainably operated, top quality shea butter producers, fully capable of supplying Kasny Recon and other international companies with raw materials. Furthermore, as a Chadian myself, I strongly believe in the urgent need to transition from “Aid to Trade,” and I know that Africare values this principle as much as we do. As a company specialized in the development, manufacturing and global distribution of our own brand of finished personal care products, we find our technical contribution to the effort as a humble contribution to facilitating access to the international market.
You’ve supported Africare in both a program and in-kind capacity. What influences your continued support?
We know that our contribution goes to a greater cause; that of helping women in our birth country of Chad to become self-sufficient and provide for their families. We believe that contributing to empowering women and children is like providing bricks and mortar for the construction of a building. Women and children are the backbone of a nation; therefore, investing in them is same as investing in a nation. Here again, it is this concept of pursuing and achieving sustainability that drives us and keeps us committed to continue this wonderful partnership with Africare.