Building the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs in Senegal

Senegalese women hardly generate any income to support their families. One reason is poor access to credit and other resources. The NGO SOS Faim strengthens the skills of female entrepreneurs and gives them access to the necessary resources to increase their income and achieve emancipation. 

Fatick is known as one of the most beautiful regions of Senegal, thanks to its wonderful mangroves and islands. But at the same time, it is one of the poorest regions of the West African country. The poverty percentage is as high as 68%.  

 

Women are especially hard hit 

Almost the entire population is dependent on agriculture; 2 out of 3 people also work in cattle breeding. But this income has been under pressure for years. Fatick is namely suffering from severe soil salinisation and degradation and regularly encounter water shortages. 

Women are particularly affected by these declining revenues. They are generally involved in small-scale livestock farming and agricultural processing, both for domestic use and for sale. But due to the low literacy rate among Senegalese women, they have less access to resources such as land, training, credit or agricultural equipment. 
 

Resources and training 

SOS Faim stands for a new approach. "The NGO focuses mainly on a sustainable solution: how do we ensure that the women entrepreneurs are eventually self-reliant and do not need our help?", points out Björn Macauter, general manager at OVO. 

"We are working on two tracks. On the one hand, we facilitate access to financing for small family businesses and female entrepreneurs. At the same time, we are strengthening the technical and management skills of 3 000 women through training. In this way, we are helping them to expand their activities - and thus their income."  

 

Impact on women and their families 

In order to make resources and training more accessible, SOS Faim works with various partners and associations. "For example, there are close contacts with the associations of goat farmers and cashew nut processors, the two main activities of the women entrepreneurs. There are also partnerships with women's associations and the members of the savings and credit suppliers." 

Specifically, 3 000 women entrepreneurs and the families of the 5 000 affiliated members enjoy the positive impact of the project. "Thanks to the support, revenues from agricultural and livestock activities increase." 

The focus is explicitly on women. "They spend a large part of their income on health care and education for their families. By giving women entrepreneurs access to credit and other resources, we therefore reach their entire families. Moreover, the women become less dependent on their husbands. Once they are launched and trained in their activities, they work completely autonomously." 

 
This article previously appeared on csr.sioen.com