In Burkina Faso, the number of women entrepreneurs is almost equivalent to the number of men. And even in 2019, according to the World Bank, 88.7% of women were self-employed. However, only 18.6% of their enterprises are run on a formal basis. Like their counterparts in other West African countries, women here face a number of obstacles when setting up a business.
Hado Seone is in her forties and is one of the millions of women around the world living in rural areas who, although they cannot read or write, every day embark on a business venture in order to provide an income to support their families.
She lives about 10 kilometres from Tenkodogo, the capital of the Centre-Est region of Burkina Faso, one of the country's poorest areas. In 2014, the national statistics report recorded that three-quarters of the population live in rural areas, and only one in 15 people can read and write
‘I used to sell spices and vegetables in the market in my village. However, this was not profitable enough to sustain my family,’ she remembers.
For this reason, she did not hesitate to register for an incubator programme launched by the Project to Improve the Competitiveness of Rural and Urban Enterprises of the Centre-Est and the Creation of Decent, Inclusive and Sustainable Jobs (PACE-DID). She saw an opportunity in the category of promoters of developing enterprises
PACE-DID is a project funded by the Belgian Development Agency, Enabel, to support the development of inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurship in the Centre-Est region of Burkina Faso. Enabel, together with Rikolto, Trias, SOS Faim, FRA/CES and the Initiative Tenkodogo association, is running the programme to provide training, follow-up coaching and support for the set-up of businesses by young people, women, and people with disabilities.
Hado was selected and, for the first time, after working in several small informal businesses, she was provided with training in entrepreneurship.
As one of a group of 100 people with business ideas, she joined the three-month programme on the basics of entrepreneurship.
The ideas presented were new to her, and she found understanding the content of the programme daunting because she needed support from the course facilitators as she could not read the material. Despite this, she successfully completed the assessments set for each module.
The programme content encompassed accounting and financial management, marketing, market analysis, inclusive business model development (BMC), quality management, business management, financial research, project development, financial literacy, decent work awareness, corporate social responsibility (CSR), business creation and management, and developing a business case for selling products and services.
Her business idea was an urban food garden which she named “Wendsongre”, meaning god's help in Mooré, one of the local languages in the region.
Throughout the course, a coach was available to advise her on her business plan and identify her main concerns, and support her in finding solutions.
‘I was worried about the lack of equipment for production. About the fact that the plot was not fenced, and the women who operate on the same perimeter as me draw water for watering their plants from a well that dries up very quickly during the dry season. Also, that we would need to work to regenerate the soil’ says Hado.
Taking these factors into consideration, she created her business plan and submitted it to apply for the funds required. The programme offers a small amount of seed capital to 40 businesses. The selection process was quite rigorous, and included a presentation to the authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The grant is offered as co-financing up to a maximum amount of €7,610. Hado had to provide her own contribution as well, so she applied for a loan from a microfinance institution.
Through the project, access to social impact finance and credit organisations is also made available to the participants of the programme. In addition, the 100 entrepreneurs are provided with support in opening their savings accounts.
"In our opinion, the selection process was ideally designed. Also, during the training programme the decentralised financial services were heavily involved in analysing the business plans received. This will contribute to the sustainability of the relationship between DFS and entrepreneurs."
‘On a social level, it is difficult for a company to obtain support. [With this programme] the entrepreneuers have been provided with training as well as follow-up for different activities and, at the same time, a relationship between PACE-DID and the promoters has been facilitated." Jocelyne OUEDRAOGO, Manager, and interim manager of the Graine SARL agency in Tenkodogo.
Hado obtained her first loan from GRAINE Sarl.
She has a clear vision of the way they plan for her company will be developed and formalised. ‘In five years, I hope to become the leader in urban food gardens in my municipality, and to expand my commercial network beyond Tenkodogo.’
A vision in line with the economic impact that Enabel and PACE-DID stakeholders expect: to enhance and improve the productivity and competitiveness of existing enterprises.