After a nice, long lunch it was time to visit I-UMCEC clients.
In spite of being illiterate, Bineta Diallo is a successful woman. After many years of selling different accessories walking around the city, Bineta realised women in Casamance like ceremonies and getting new clothes for these events. With a XOF 196,787 (€ 300) of U-IMCEC received about 4 years ago, she bought fabrics and opened a small shop in Boucotte market. She used her current XOF 3 million loan (almost € 4,600) to Morocco to bring textiles that are very popular.
Her business has grown and today she employs four other women to help her with the shop when she is busy attending her other business: a poultry farm. Although she cannot read or write, she has developed a successful business that allowed her to send her children to school and the eldest daughter to the university.
February 11: Supermen!
After Bineta, I met two other microentrepreneurs in Boucotte market. Abdoulaye N’Daw is a tailor and also gives young apprentices the chance to become tailors while working in his atelier.
Four years ago, Coumba N”Doffene Diouff tried getting loans from other MFIs, but nowhere could he the required loan amount. Fortunately, a friend told him about U-IMCEC and he was right: he got his first loan from (XOF 500,000 or € 762) immediately. Today Coumba has a XOF 4 million (€ 6,097.96) and runs three businesses: an agricultural supply store, a money transfer shop, and a furniture business. His dream is to open a shop in Cap Skirring, which is the touristic area in Casamance.
Mama Diba owns a hardware shop. Thanks to two loans of U-IMCEC totalizing XOF 5 million (€ 7,622.45) he was able to find a new location for his business. Only six months ago, Mama Diba opened the new shop in front of U-IMCEC regional branch office. This young man - Mama is only 28 - dreams of opening a second store in Kaolack, expand his stock, and buy a car to bring the supplies to his customers. Mama’s business spirit will surely make him very successful.
The cooperative spirit empowers people
Early in the morning, I left the hotel in Ziguinchor for a two-hour drive to Kataba 1, which is located 15 km from the border with The Gambia, in Bignona region. Then I had no clue that I was about to get the largest welcome ever.
We were received with music, dance, and a group of around 200-250 cooperative members who wanted to show their gratitude for our financing.
Many of them live far away, so they arrived the day before to be on time to welcome us.
In their speeches, they constantly acknowledged and praised the hard work of Sambou Coly, Oikocredit Senegal country manager. Sambou has instrumental to help them develop their own cooperative – Copex-Sud – and to create Les Saveurs du Sud. Copex-Sud and Oikocredit are both shareholders of the new company that will process mangoes and other products for export.