Fresh fish from Ouakam: income generation for women in Dakar

“Keur Joyce” is a lively nursery school in Ouakam, nestled between the “Monument de la Renaissance Africaine” and Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, a district of the Senegalese capital Dakar. It was financed by the YOU Foundation-Education for Children in Need of UNESCO Special Ambassador Dr Ute Ohoven.

Ouakam is known for the old “Phare des Mamelles”, a lighthouse, which guides the ships on their safe passage since 1894, holding the traditions and looking magnificent for its old age. However, Ouakam is also known for the beach and the fishermen depending on a good catch. Every day the poor female fishmongers of Ouakam come to the beach to negotiate with the fishermen the price of the catch, put it into their baskets and then walk back to the city at 35° degrees or with heavy downpour.  They sell the fish on the markets or on the roadside to earn a living and to get an income to support their families.

Throughout the whole day the fish is not refrigerated and the hygienic conditions are therefore very poor. Furthermore, the women have no knowledge about accountancy, nor about revenue or profit. But most of them send their children to the “Keur Joyce” nursery in order to know them in safe hands and that they are getting a child-friendly pre-school education! Aware of the deprivations the women suffer, the YOU Foundation-Education for Children in Need and HOPE’87 started a new employment activity. 

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the fight against poverty among women in Senegal, with the specific objective of improving the income of female fishmongers in Ouakam.First of all the women were supported to create their own “Groupement d’Intérêt Economique”, a preform of a cooperative, duly registered consortium with authorities as a legal entity and based on democratically elected officers. Working now in a structured group, the women were equipped with ice-chests to keep the fish fresh and a basic training in accountancy was organised.

In order to support a sustainable economical growth of the group, HOPE’87-Senegal established the contact between the women fish vendors and a microfinance institution, the “Union des Mutuelles du Partenariat pour la Mobilisation de l’Epargne et du Crédit au Senegal”  (“Union of Savings- and Credit Cooperatives for the Mobilization of Savings and Credit in Senegal”, UM-PAMECAS). A guarantee fund of 10.500 € was set up by HOPE’87-Senegal to serve as collateral for future credit facilities to be offered by UM-PAMECAS to the “Groupement d’Intérêt Economique of the fishmongers. Additionally, a series of trainings and briefings regarding legal and tax issues as well as applied hygiene and bookkeeping were offered to the women’s group in order to strengthen their capacity in running their small-scale businesses. Look out for the ladies with the big coloured ice-chests next time you are around in Ouakam, they sell delicious, fresh fish!

This project is generously funded by the YOU Foundation – Education for Children in Need.