JiggenPowerUp! – WomenPowerUp! Big Give Challenge 2020

JiggenPowerUp! – WomenPowerUp!

With your support, we did it! A huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated!

In December 2020, we launched our Big Give Christmas Challenge to raise funds for the Jiggen Power UP! project in Senegal. Together, we raised a fantastic £36,895.

Thanks to Village Aid supporters, the project is enabling women’s businesses to thrive, powered by green energy.

Here’s a reminder of what the project is all about…

The Challenge: Since 2018 we have been working with three women’s enterprises in the Casamance area of Senegal. Over the past three years they have gained access to solar food processing units and have formalised themselves as women’s businesses. But the amount of food they were able to process was limited because they did not have access to an automatic husking machine for the grains they process. This meant that they had to do all of the husking by hand, which was time consuming and prevented them from getting the most out of their business.

Fundraising as part of The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2020 aimed to support two of these three enterprises by installing automatic husking machines at each site, powered by the solar grid, so that the women can husk cereals and grains in much larger quantities and therefore process more cereal products, meet local demand, and increase their income.

Progress so far: The project got underway in February 2021, with a technical study to assess the exact specifications of the machine required, including assessing the energy available on the grids. Using our previous experience, we ensured that the machine, spare parts and a technician for repairs could be available locally. But COVID-19 soon caused challenges to the project. A fault with a battery on one of the sites was unable to be fixed due to travel restrictions, and the procurement process for the husking machines was delayed due to one of the potential providers going out of business. However, two peanut husking machines and two cereal husking machine have now been installed. The project duration has been extended by two months, to ensure all planned activities can take place within the time remaining.

Other activities delivered to date include:

  • 15 people trained as trainers/mentors in organisational dynamics, leadership management, internal operations, communication, leadership behaviour.
  • 5 people trained as trainers/mentors in book keeping, and 25 in setting roles and responsibilities, frequency, accountability and disciplinary procedure.
  • 186 women have participated in training and mentoring and have benefitted from the increased capacity to produce and sell.

Impact on livelihoods, income and gender equality: Automatic husking machines are rare in this area; the women have been able to develop a secondary income stream, by charging other producers to use the machine. This additional income is being invested back into the women’s businesses, further increasing their capacity to produce.

Case study: Meet Yacine

Yacine is the secretary of the solar businesses that she works for. Before 2018, Yacine had no regular source of income and would rely on small-scale crop farming during the rainy season, that she would have to make last for the whole year. But now Yacine is engaged in regular paid work. She is a natural leader and works with the president and treasurer to lead and encourage 30 other women to make their business a success.

“These machines are so useful for us,” Yacine told us. “As well as working here we also have to look after our children and we have to help out on the farm. We don’t have time to manually husk. Sometimes it takes so long that the cereals go bad because of the heat. But now we don’t have to do that. It saves us time and we can focus on processing the cereals”.

Remember Aissatou, Tacko and Marie? They had to hand-shell their peanuts and it would take them a week to husk 100kgs. With their new husking machine, they can now husk up to 800kgs of peanuts per day!

Next Steps: We will continue to support the women’s enterprises with training to improve efficiency, as well as raise the profile and support for women-led businesses locally. We expect this to be complete by 31 August 2021, after which full analysis will be taken of the activities and impact, and a full report shared in the Autumn.

Thanks to Village Aid supporters we are championing women-led business at a time when it is more important than ever.