Mburu and Invest for Jobs provide women without a school education a brighter future in the bakery trade in Senegal
Thanks to Invest for Jobs, young women at Mburu have the opportunity to train to become bakers. One of these women is Khady Diouf. She used to think that training and employment were not for women – but giving up her job and her independence is now out of the question.
‘I wasn’t able to go to school. So I would never have imagined that one day I would take part in a training programme, learn the bakery trade and find a job.’ All Khady Diouf heard from her parents as a child was that school was not for girls. She learned to cook, clean and wash, and was meant to become a good housewife. But the desire to be able to stand on her own two feet and be financially independent grew and grew the older she became. She tried to get by as a babysitter and even wanted to train as a soldier in the Senegalese army. Without a school-leaving qualification, few other options were available to the now 26-year-old. And Diouf, who comes from the coastal area around Ngaparou in the west of Senegal, is far from being the only woman faced with this situation. In rural areas of Senegal in particular, many are seeking work but find neither training nor a job. However, Diouf’s life changed when she met Isseu Diop Sakho, the founder of Mburu.
Mburu: the vision of a community
Isseu Diop Sakho’s aim was to develop a business model that strengthens local supply chains in Senegal and, in so doing, provides women in the country with opportunities. This led her to set up Mburu. Mburu, which means ‘bread’ in the local Wolof and Bambara languages, is a bakery business that creates jobs primarily for women since the shops and street kiosks are operated exclusively by women. At the same time, Mburu strengthens local value chains by working together with local farmers. Isseu Diop Sakho’s idea included working with regional cereal varieties such as sorghum, corn, tubers and seasonal fruit, since wheat does not grow in Senegal. These traditional cereal crops were then to be used to develop new and modern recipes at the Mburu bakery. Moreover, the bread was to cost no more than it did in other shops and be sold both at bakeries in the city as well as at street kiosks in rural areas. The aim of these measures was to create an entire value chain and good jobs for women, in the areas of cultivation, production and sales. Isseu Diop Sakho had a good idea on paper but needed motivated women to put it into practice – as well as support to train these women.
She found this support at Invest for Jobs. Invest for Jobs helped Mburu to train Khady Diouf and her colleagues on the differences between individual raw materials and baked goods, the benefit of local cereal varieties, the basics of sales and distribution and how to handle technical equipment. This is how Mburu was transformed from a vision into a reality: a thriving business with branches in rural Ngaparou and in the capital Dakar, where the smell of fresh bread, croissants and exotic confectionery made with local ingredients such as hibiscus, moringa and ginger fills the air each day.
By women for women
Working together with other women at the Mburu branch in Ngaparou, Khady Diouf makes all kinds of baked goods, from bread rolls and baguettes to croissants. What she bakes early in the morning is then sold in the branch and in the surrounding region at street kiosks – by sales assistants who have also been trained by Invest for Jobs. Yet the very fact that Khady Diouf is shaping dough in the noisy bakery is anything but a matter of course given that the bakery profession is traditionally a male preserve in Senegal. This explains why she would never have considered this line of work. ‘Then one day I met Ms Sakho. She is the one that encouraged me to do it. She always told me that a girl should have a job. Hard work should not be confined just to men.’ Diouf says that she loves to smell the freshly baked bread and to imagine how customers will enjoy the results of her work.
‘Hard work should not be confined just to men.’
With vision and expertise, Mburu and Invest for Jobs have already trained several dozen women in less than two years. The success story of Mburu as a whole is therefore closely intertwined with the stories of the individual women, such as the young baker Khady Diouf. Her family is now proud of her, she says, before adding that there is nothing nicer than buying her mother a present with the money she has earned. She is thankful to Mburu for what she now has and is not prepared to give up her independence. ‘If someone tells me that I have to stop what I’m doing, my answer will be to say “Never, never!” I would like to work here my whole life.’