Most of Senegal’s 15 million people rely on agriculture and pastoralism as primary sources of food and income.
As of August 2018, an estimated 751,000 people faced a Crisis (Phase 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity across Senegal, according to the latest Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis.
The Cadre Harmonisé is a tool used in West Africa to classify and quantify acute food insecurity.
Podor and Matam were the worst-affected areas of the country where more than 176,000 people likely experienced the Crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.
Senegal’s food crisis came as a result of poor rainfall in 2017 which significantly disrupted crop and animal production in some parts of the country.
Thus the lean season, which normally occurs from June–August marking the period of the year when food is scarcest, started prematurely in 2018.
To cope with the challege, vulnerable households with depleted food stocks began to use negative coping strategies—such as decreasing the number of meals per day or reducing non-food expenses—as early as March to meet their daily requirements, according to World Food Program (WFP) reports.
The UN reports that over half of Senegal’s 15 million people are multidimensionally poor—a measure of deprivation in health, education and the standard of living.
In addition, chronic malnutrition affects approximately 17 percent of children younger than 5 years of age, according to the UN WFP.
But this may change with innovations that are happening in the country that neighbours The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
Five young Senegalese entrepreneurs have been selected to receive six months of business incubation and $2,000 seed-funding to kick-start their business.
For the last two months, the Senegal Start-Up Accelerator run by Kosmos Innovation Centre and Reach for Change, has been looking for young Senegalese entrepreneurs with innovative ideas that could tackle challenges facing the agriculture sector through technology to join its programme.
The Senegal Start-Up Accelerator is designed to support innovators in the fishing and agricultural sectors to develop their commercial solutions and maximize their impact, helping them to navigate the early stages of business growth.
Over the course of six months, the programme will provide the five winners with intensive and expert individual and group training, organized visits to established businesses for market research and professional mentoring.
The winners will also receive $2000 each in seed funding, with the chance to secure additional funding upon completion of the programme.
The five entrepreneurs selected to join the accelerator have successfully completed an extensive screening process, including interviews and background checks, an assessment panel and an intensive two day boot camp.
This boot camp culminated in a pitch before a jury panel with judges from Reach for Change, Kosmos Energy and prominent experts from the agricultural and fishing industries in Senegal.
Mamadou Mar Faye who is the External Affairs and CSR Manager, Kosmos Energy said: “Through this accelerator programme, we’re delighted to do our part to ensure young, promising entrepreneurs have the skills and support needed to help turn their innovative business ideas into reality.”
He added, “Each winner will be guided through the process of developing a product that is ready for market and meets a real market need, contributing to the creation of a healthy and competitive agricultural sector in Senegal. Look out for five exciting new products coming to the market in just six months’ time!”
Among the five winning entrepreneurs is Mouhamadou Lamine Kebe of Tool Bi whose innovation works to facilitate irrigation with an electronic innovation and improve agricultural yields.
The other is Mame Diarra Sarr of Fraisen/Waalu Ma Aagri who has developed an efficient way of producing organic strawberries locally in Senegal at an affordable cost.
Abdourahmane Diop of Jappandil who developed a platform that connects farmers to qualified agricultural experts, service providers and materials needed to improve farming practices and access the latest innovations is another finalist.
Finalist Aliou Diallo of Sigle. Senphytomed Suarl is working to improve the access to herbal products and natural remedies while reinvesting in the conservation of medicinal plants.
Arfang Mafoudji Sonko of GIE Senbioagro Corporation whose innovation works to reduce food waste while creating employment and transforming excess yields into market-ready products is also on the list.
The cohort will begin the six-month Senegal Start-Up Accelerator commencing this January.
Participants will learn everything from how to develop customer profiles and how to carry out competitor analysis, how to make a product roadmap and developing a sustainable revenue model for their business.
The Senegal Start-Up Accelerator is a part of Reach for Change and Kosmos Energy’s commitment to social investment in the countries where the two organizations work, and will contribute to Senegal’s future sustainable development.