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 that has guided ships in their safe passage since 1894. It looks magnificent for its old age and continues to hold onto old traditions. However, Ouakam is also known for its beach and the fishermen whose livelyhoods depend on a good catch. Every day, poor female fishmongers of Ouakam come to the beach and negotiate with the fishermen a price for their catch, put the purchased fish into their baskets and then walk back to the city, often in 35° degree weather or a heavy downpour.  They sell the fish in the markets or on the roadside in order to earn a living and to get an income to support their families.

The fish are not refrigerated throughout the entirity of the day, therefore making the hygienic conditions very poor. Furthermore, the women have no knowledge regarding accountancy, revenue or profit. Most of them send their children to the “Keur Joyce” nursery, as they know that their children are in safe hands and getting a child-friendly pre-school education! Aware of the deprivations that the women suffer from, the YOU Foundation-Education for Children in Need and HOPE’87 started a new employment activity. 

The overall objective of this project was 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 recieved support to create their own “Groupement d’Intérêt Economique”, a preformance cooperative and duly registered consortium, with authorities as a legal entity and based on democratically elected officers. Working 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 the sustainable economical growth of the group, HOPE’87-Senegal established a connectio 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 and 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.