Discovering Dakar

Discovering Dakar

February 9, 2012 - by Blanca Méndez - 0 comments

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With two suitcases with clothes, materials and presents for the partners and a laptop bag I took the train to Schiphol airport. 

There I met Aline Uitdenboogaart, my colleague of the Department of Investor Relations of Oikocredit International, who will also join this study tour. 

I have never been to an African French-speaking country before, I did not know exactly what to expect. Also, the majority of the population is Muslim and speak French, which I have not practiced for years. Will I be lost in translation? Will the micro-entrepreneurs be willing to share their stories with us?

Several questions waiting to be answered. After a long, but good trip, and I arrived safe in Dakar.

8 February: Discovering Dakar

Sambou Coly, country manager of Oikocredit Senegal, picked us up from the hotel and brought us to the office. Dakar is a colourful city. It may be due to the beautiful colours of men and women’s clothes:  bright greens, orange, yellow, and turquoise. And public transport could not be the exception: colourful buses with someone hanging by the backdoor to call customers.

After a long conference call to arrange the last logistic details and go over the agenda – and trying o connect several times by phone or online, it was time for lunch.

I tested the local cuisine. I spent the rest o the day in meetings with Mariam Dao, Oikocredit West Africa representative, Aïda Guèye, regional CB and SPM coordinator, and Aline.e for the first time and fell in love with the tomato rice. Little I could know it would be my first –and last- chance to see the sun this day because I spent almost 3 hours in the bank trying to exchange currency.

9 February: Here comes the sun

On Saturday I was busy arranging logistics. As no meetings were scheduled, I had time to visit the surroundings of the city and understand its dynamics and contrasts.

Most participants arrived late in the evening. It was good to finally meet them in person after communicating through email for a long time.


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