Monkey bread, which comes from the baobab, is a superfood grown in Senegal from which a powder with great health benefits is extracted. The women of Boundou are leading this sustainable entrepreneurship project, which will benefit 700 families in the nature reserve.
If we search in our imagination for an image that describes the landscape of Africa, the baobab will be one of the protagonists. This tree with a tall, thick trunk and leafy branches at the top is one of the symbols of the continent and, in particular, of Senegal. It even appears on the country's coat of arms.
This tree produces a fruit called monkey bread. Its high levels of calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus and magnesium, among others, make it a superfood. Now, the Nous Cims Foundation and the Senegalese association Corena have launched a sustainable entrepreneurship project to market this product led by the women of Bondou (Senegal).
The Bondou Nature Reserve is a 120,000-hectare protected area in eastern Senegal. About 9,000 people live in it, spread over 700 families. Thanks to the project’s profit, these families will be able to increase their income and improve their economy.
“The nature reserve is aimed at the community level. The transformation of all products is led by women and is their main source of income", explains the project manager of the Global Development Area of the Nous Cims Foundation, Olga Permanyer. "To start, they are now fixing the land, preparing the products, formalizing the regulations, etc.", she adds.
The two main objectives of the sustainable entrepreneurship project are to promote local economic development, always taking care of the environment, and to empower women. Beekeeping, poultry farming, water projects and nature tourism are some of the advantages of this activity that respects the natural resources of the area.
Sustainable entrepreneurship as a tool to empower women
The sustainable exploitation of this fruit is a source of income for the population and a light for Senegalese women who, although they play an important role in the household, don’t hold elected office yet. With women-led projects like this, the aim is to help them become more relevant in the social fabric of the country.
Until now, this powder was marketed by private promoters who took advantage of the condition of Senegalese women, making them more vulnerable. Thanks to Nous Cims and Corena, women will take part in its administrative and financial management.
During the three years of the project’s run, they will have the necessary resources to carry out market research on other sustainable products such as tamarind, a locally produced fruit, the ben oil tree or kinkeliba leaves. In addition, they have the support of four mayors of common areas and 700 people who will help directly.
Women will open a store with these products, participate in local and international fairs and will also create communication materials to publicise their product. "There will be training courses at the EIG, Corena's Economic Interest Group, made up exclusively of women, where they will learn how to transform the product and how to market it, as well as other skills," says Permanyer.
Thanks to the marketing of the fruit of the baobab, the women who lead the sustainable entrepreneurship project will become benchmarks for other women in the area, fulfilling the goal of empowering them. Not to mention the development of Boundou families and the prospect of having a sustainable future.