From small ideas to big businesses – the successes of the ECOWAS Women’s Business Fund

July 29, 2015 | By

The “Economic Empowerment of Women Fish Processors in Bargny” project, initiated by Action Solidaire and funded through the ECOWAS Women’s Business Fund, is a genuine success story of a small idea becoming a big business. Sited in a fishing community in Senegal, the objectives of the project is hinged on a pressing need to:

  • support the local community reap the full benefits of their labour by improving net income;
  • reduce environmental degradation; and
  • promote social cohesion through inclusive dialogue.

Prior to this project the traditional fish smoking technique resulted in huge economic losses as about 40% of fish harvested could not be sold. This also meant that these women who had borrowed from micro-lending facilities have found it difficult getting out of debt. Secondly, the practice has led to deleterious health implications including lung diseases and eye problems, affecting mostly women, but men and children as well. Thirdly, incomplete combustion from the smoking technique has led to poor air quality and regular occurrences of smog, affecting pedestrians and motorists.

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With the project, however, a modern fish processing industry is being established for the community, by the community.

The ‘engineers’ are the women of Bargny.  A micro business development fund, with regular training on financial literacy and business management for women and men, and environmental awareness and education all make up the project’s sustainability strategy.

The “Economic Empowerment of Women Fish Processors in Bargny” project is changing culture and landscape!

As prove that good news travels fast, the project will be having yet another partner, this time with the Government of Senegal. Through the World Bank sponsored Le Programme de Gestion Durable et Participative des Energies Traditionnelles et de Substitution ( PROGEDE2), the Ministry of Environment will be supporting the replication of 10 new furnaces, with additional funding of 11 million CFA.


Do you think you have small ideas with the potential of becoming big businesses?

The ECOWAS Facility for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access (ECOW-GEN Facility) could be that window of opportunity you have been waiting.



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