Co-ops used to formalise economy in Senegal

The ILO highlights how its work is supporting Senegal’s economic development through the ‘strategic use of co-operatives’

The co-operative business model is enjoying “renewed interest” in Senegal, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

A recent article from the ILO highlights how its project for the Promotion of Formal and Innovative Entrepreneurship in Senegal and the Gambia (Promefi) is supporting economic development in Senegal through the “strategic use of co-operatives.”

Promefi supported 10 groups of agricultural and poultry operators to formalise as co-operatives, representing more than 1,500 members, a third of whom are women, opening up further opportunities for training in co-op management and governance. 

Waste workers have also benefited from the project. Solid waste reclaimers at the Mbeubeuss landfill site in Dakar received training and support to register as co-operative, enabling more than 714 waste pickers, two thirds of whom are women, to formalise their businesses. 

This gives the co-op advantages around tax, market access and financing, and has enabled them to obtain personal protective equipment and set up a plastic processing line through the acquisition of shredders.

The programme also provided training in bissap and chilli processing techniques to fifty female farmers, most of whom are part of co-operatives, and provided access to a shared processing unit. 

Three co-ops also received marketing support to bring their products up to standard through barcodes, logos, labels, packaging and equipment, and attended the Dakar International Fair.

Social and solidarity economy minister Victorine A. Ndeye said at a Promefi ceremony: “Obtaining the FRA and the barcode is a step that calls for the strengthening of organisations towards the establishment of robust value chains and synergy at the level of the groups, federations and cooperatives that have been set up.”

Promefi’s work is financed by the Italian government and supported by a network of Senegalese co-op support organisations, bringing together around 100 co-operative societies.

20 trainers from this network received training in ILO cooperative development tools including Think.COOP, Start.COOP and My.COOP,  in order to support the formalisation of co-operatives throughout Senegal, with the ultimate aim of promoting decent work, the development of sustainable enterprises and the formalisation of activities in Senegal and Gambia.