Made in Senegal
Africare Helps Community-Based Co-operatives Grow into Agribusiness Enterprises

“Ndawi Kaymor,” meaning the Youth of Kaymor, is the name chosen by a co-operative of close to 60 women from Kaymor village in West Africa’s rural Senegal. Collectively, these women run a business processing cereals and peanut butter, and their enterprise has grown to the point that Ndawi Kaymor members have twice represented their group at the annual EMRC AgriBusiness Forum, the largest pan-African AgriBusiness Forum on the continent. Through their hard work and initiative, and with the support of training and equipment through a USDA-funded Africare project, these women created a viable business reaching potential consumers and partners across Africa.

Four Africare-supported community-based organizations sell their products at the EMRC AgriBusiness Forum.
Representatives from four Africare-supported community-based organizations, including Ndawi Kaymor, sell their products at
the
EMRC AgriBusiness Forum in Dakar.

“What do you harvest?”

If you’re a citizen of the United States and someone asked you, “What do you harvest?” you would probably be confused. The first time U.S. citizens tend to see their food is in grocery stores. However, most Senegalese could answer this question immediately and with detail.

Although only a small portion of the U.S. population farms, agricultural productivity is such that not only is there plenty of food to go around, there is enough to export billions of dollars of it. In Senegal, approximately 70% of the population is rural, but more than half of Senegal’s rural population lives below the poverty line. Never mind feeding other countries, Senegal’s rural farmers often labor to feed their own families, overcoming unforgiving elements and resource dilemmas with fortitude.

Senegalese farmers don’t want to merely subsist. They want to thrive.

Africare/Senegal’s PRODIAKT Project

With USDA funding from May 2009 to September 2013, Africare implemented a multifaceted food security project called PRODIAKT. The full title, Program to Diversify Agriculture in Kaolack, Kaffrine, Kedougou and Tambacounda, is straightforward, but it falls far short of describing all the program’s aspects. Increasing agricultural productivity and diversification - including components such as wells, pumps, irrigation networks, erosion control, agroforestry, vegetable gardens, seed production, technical training and more - was only the project’s first objective. In addition to helping farmers improve their operations, PRODIAKT built the business capacity of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to support their development into small and medium enterprises.

CBOs are groups of community members that unite around income-generating activities. Starting in PRODIAKT’s first year, CBOs received support in obtaining legal status with the government, securing legal ownership of land, opening bank accounts, and improving their administrative and financial management. In addition to the agricultural training mentioned earlier, PRODIAKT provided CBOs with training in areas such as literacy, organizational dynamics, business plan writing, bookkeeping, savings and loans, and value-addition activities including cereal processing.

A member of Ndawi Kaymor with processing equipment that accompanied technical training in Kaymor village.
A member of Ndawi Kaymor with processing equipment that accompanied technical training in Kaymor village.

PRODIAKT developed 13,027 hectares of land for improved agriculture, about 40 times the size of New York City’s Central Park, and trained 9,490 community members in immediately applicable food security topics like natural resource management and vegetable gardening. Moreover, a total of 1,612 CBO members trained in rural enterprise management, and 590 project participants took literacy classes, with 90% passing their final test.

Connecting Communities to Markets

The next logical step after preparing CBOs to manage businesses is to link CBOs with external markets, where they can put their new skills to use. As always, Africare selected project areas on the basis of need and community vulnerability, but we also based target area decisions on agricultural potential, the presence of motivated project participants and the existence of dynamic marketing channels like weekly market events known as “loumas.” Africare also opened credit guarantee funds at two financial institutions. The funds guaranteed 50% of the first loan to a PRODIAKT CBO, 25% of the second and zero percent of future loans, a gradual approach encouraging participation through managed risk. Alabar Keita, president of the MaaRewa women’s group sums this up nicely:

 

Before Africare’s support, we were very hesitant to take a loan of 275,000 CFA [$566]. After being trained, coached and managed through the PRODIAKT project, we became stronger as a group. We reimbursed our first loan three months later. We realized that the conditions were much more favorable than we had imagined, and thus we were courageous enough to take another loan of 1,000,000 CFA [$2,060].

CBOs demonstrated the value of PRODIAKT’s financial training with the strength of their business plans and credit applications, and 328 business plans were funded through a total of $290,000 in loans. The CBOs achieved a repayment rate of more than 98%.

Ndawi Kaymor selling processed goods at the 2013 West African FIARA fair.
Ndawi Kaymor selling processed goods at the 2013 West African FIARA fair.

Made in Senegal

PRODIAKT sponsored nine major trips for the CBOs’ growing agribusinesses to explore wider market opportunities. CBOs, selected by their business success and their level of organization, sold their products, made business contacts and gained tremendous business experience at local markets, regional fairs and even international forums.

The undeniable skill and commitment of Ndawi Kaymor’s women earned them regular nominations to participate in market trips. After receiving capacity-building training through Africare’s partnership with Senegal’s Institute of Food Technology, the women of Ndawi Kaymor made excellent use of the grain mill and peanut sheller PRODIAKT provided to their village, and they have now attended multiple fairs to market their professionally processed and packaged goods to consumers from all over Africa. Ndawi Kaymor women represented their business at events as high-profile as the West African regional FIARA (International Agriculture and Livestock Fair, en Français), and their co-operative earned the sole PRODIAKT sponsorship to the pan-African EMRC AgriBusiness forum in Kigali, Rwanda, over 3,400 miles away from Senegal’s capital of Dakar.

Ndawi Kaymor's pre-packaged goods specifying their co-operative's name and contact information.
Ndawi Kaymor's pre-packaged goods specifying their co-operative's name and contact information.

Ndawi Kaymor’s packaged goods do not specify that they were “Made in Senegal,” but with all the effort these women have dedicated to their work and all the traveling they have done, it sounds like that statement will be useful in the future. Keep an eye out when you go to the grocery store; “Made in Senegal” might be a label you see some day soon.