Originally from the Ivory Coast, Cynthia Kouassi created Star Collections in Geneva in 2017 to showcase natural, minimally processed and very high quality African local products imported directly from the Ivory Coast and West Africa.
It started with cocoa, then diversified its activities towards other products: peppers, ginger, turmeric, mango, dried pineapple, … It now offers a wide range of delicatessen, chocolates and cosmetics.
Let’s discover this family business with strong values.
To find the right raw material, she has surrounded herself with a professional team, and above all with demanding people. For this, Cynthia Kouassi was well educated, raised by a demanding mother on “respect for things well done”. With modest means, she made her products, such as peanut paste, from her own resources with a concern for quality. It is quite natural that Cynthia turned to her mother, who remained in the country, to establish a direct link with the local producers.
With great human qualities, her mother ensures the quality of the sourcing by meeting the farmers, tasting the products and sending samples to Switzerland. She leads the small team of women who sort, clean, dry and package the products, which are then transported to Geneva by her brother, who is in charge of logistics.
The company in Côte d’Ivoire is managed by her mother, structured, controlled and registered in the commercial register. But above all, it is a family business with strong values, since it is not only concerned with the quality of taste and the traceability of the products, but also with ethical work and fair trade: banning child labor in the plantations and promoting women’s work to guarantee their empowerment.
When the products arrive in Switzerland, Cynthia transforms them, packages them and markets them. The Swiss health authorities validate the working environment and the respect of the standards in force. At the same time, some products (mango, pepper, shea butter, day cream and moringa oil) are tested by Swiss laboratories against the food and cosmetic standards ISO 11930: 2019.
“Reconnect with the product at the source, indulge in a healthy way. Consume right, clean and good! “ – this is the motto of Cynthia and Star Collections!
Côte d’Ivoire, a major producer and exporter of agricultural raw materials
For cocoa, it is the first producer and exporter country, which provides, with Ghana, nearly 70% of world production.
Cynthia works with a small cooperative of more than 200 farmers who produce organic cocoa, certified by Ecocert and awarded in 2020 for its high quality.
The Ivory Coast is famous for its dried mango and a variety of fruits such as pineapple, papaya, …; or rhizomes, such as ginger, turmeric, … or cashew nuts and kola nuts. These products are grown locally in large quantities, exported en masse to Brazil, Vietnam or India, to be processed. These products are then distributed on the world market without mentioning their original source.
“There are wonders everywhere in the world, the only thing is to make them known”, says Cynthia and this is what she is trying to do with the products of her country, such as peppers, cashew nuts, cocoa, dried mangoes and pineapples, …
During her search for producers, Cynthia had the pleasure of discovering the number and quality of the different peppers grown in Côte d’Ivoire. Traditionally used in local medicine, Ivorian peppers are now exported worldwide for their taste quality. The company itself markets seven varieties: wild pepper, alligator pepper (or maniguette), Tonkpi tailed pepper, black pepper, white pepper, red pepper of the Me, or judicious mixtures.
Where to find Star Collections products?
Cynthia Kouassi has at heart to offer local products that she knows perfectly. The idea is to share a common history and values with her customers.
That’s why she chooses to go to the markets, and be in direct contact with consumers.
The products are used by a wide range of chefs in the region’s restaurants, and are available for sale in gourmet stores in Geneva, Vaud and Valais.
List to be consulted on the site www.star-collections.com
Meet Cynthia at four weekly markets in the canton of Geneva:
– Thursday morning: Champel market
– Thursday afternoon: Grottes market
– Friday: Plainpalais market
– Saturday: Rive market, Boulevard Helvétique
By e-commerce (delivery in Switzerland and all Europe), visit the store on www.star-collections.c
article wrote by Géraldine Muzart