Mimi, the teacher
Mimi Diedhiou, better known as Mrs. Diedhiou, is an English-language teacher at Kounkané’s junior high school in the Kolda region of Senegal. “Mrs. Diedhiou is a model of leadership for us. In addition to being kind and determined, I love the way she talks,” says Thaïs Manga, one of her 8th grade students. Her colleague Mr. Sonko, history and geography teacher, added that Mrs. Diedhiou is a role model for all women in the Kolda region.
Mimi, Mr. Sonko and four other professors were chosen out of 16 in their college to teach courses in Improvement of Work Performance and Entrepreneurship in Senegal (APTE), a discipline reserved for the 90 best students out of 750 students in the junior high school designed to inspire entrepreneurship beyond their studies.
In addition to being an English-language teacher, Mimi is also the treasurer of GIE Sainte Marthe, which specialises in the processing of cereals into flour made from Obatanpa maize, millet, cowpea, palm oil, moringa and peanut butter, along with 29 other women aged between 28 and 57.
Processing- an initiative to improve child nutrition
Following a visit to the Centre for Nutritional Recovery in Vélingara in 2018, the women of GIE Sainte Marthe wanted to support children suffering from nutritional deficiencies.
With 200,000 CFA francs from their savings fund, they invested in processing cereals thanks to training provided by World Vision. They produced 50 kg, which they donated to the Velingara Centre, earning them the trust of World Vision and CLM (Malnutrition Control Unit). The GIE has thus established itself as a local supplier for these organizations, which are no longer obliged to travel to other towns such as Kolda or Ziguinchor to place orders.
In 2018, Kawolor – implemented by a consortium led by NCBA CLUSA – taught the women of GIE Sainte Marthe to make composite flour with germination to optimize micro-nutrients. This new way of processing flour has been picked up by big organizations like National Council for the Development of Nutrition, Catholic Relief Services etc.
“We wanted to be champions in processing”
The women of GIE Sainte Marthe say they are proud to be on the road to excellence.
“From 2018 to 2020, 41,340 kg of composite flour were produced by GIE Sainte Marthe for children aged 6 to 23 months, including 26,223 kg distributed to 8,741 children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition in the context of Covid-19 from July to September 2020,” says Moussa Dieng, Assistant to the Regional Executive Office of the National Council for the Development of Nutrition, formerly CLM in Vélingara in Kolda region.
The GIE has gained from organizations such as Caritas, Tiers Sud, and World Vision due to a total of 62,330 kg of flour produced from 2018 to 2021. With Obatanpa maize rich in quality proteins that Mimi and her colleagues call white gold, the marketed composite flour is of better quality and more effective in solving the nutritional deficiencies of children aged 6-23 months.
Processing has transformed lives
“The little we earn is enough for the family and everyone is happy,” says Mimi, who proudly testifies to the improved living conditions of her fellow women who, thanks to the income from processing, have been able to buy land, build houses, send their children to school and help their husbands, who are often retired or jobless.
In addition to her activities as treasurer of the GIE, Mrs. Diedhiou is an entrepreneur at heart. Her desire to become an entrepreneur came after she was deployed to Kounkané in 2008 as an English-language teacher. Seeing that Kounkané was facing a meat supply problem despite the potential in livestock farming that the area offered, she decided to start poultry farming to ensure her own meat consumption.
“I started with 10 chicks, which was barely enough to feed my family. My colleagues and friends started asking me to supply them. Faced with this pressing demand, I decided to increase and diversify my livestock, which was easy for me because I am a fan of cattle breeding. Today I have 200 broilers, 6 guinea fowls, 6 cows, 4 goats etc.”
Kawolor and CultiVert
“Kawolor and CultiVert (a social franchise, which supports individual agents and groups to provide quality services relating to nutrition and food security) taught me financial literacy. Now I know how to keep a book of accounts and I know how much I have spent and how much I have earned. This has given me the skills to become treasurer and teach the women how to secure supply costs. The rest of the money is shared as an incentive based on working time, from 20,000F per woman, we can earn up to 100,000F individually per order.
I have individually subscribed to CultiVert as an Agent Provider to strengthen my entrepreneurial spirit. With my income from livestock, I bought a plot of land, built my house and continue to support my immediate and extended family. CultiVert has taught us how to sell without moving by taking advantage of various platforms to expand our customer base. Thanks to the other APCs and EPCs of the Social Franchise, we can more easily source complementary ingredients such as cowpeas, buuy (monkey bread), etc.
Since joining CultiVert, we have been participating in large-scale fairs and exhibitions to increase our visibility and expand our customer base.
Initially, we were packaging our flour in plastic bags. CultiVert has taught us to make paper packaging that better meets environmental standards and adds value to our more popular products,” says Mimi.
“We are expecting to get the best of it”
To help us remain the processing champions that we are. We nurture ambitions to export our products abroad. CultiVert and Kawolor have enabled us to get to know ourselves and to meet the challenge of fragile health. If we kept all the money we earned from 2018 to the present, GIE Sainte Marthe could create a bank,” concludes Mimi.