Centre for Management and Rural Economy
28 July 2022
03 November 2023
Established in 2004, CGER offers a variety of business management services for producer organisations and rural businesses in the Senegal River Valley.
Initially set up to support producers seeking to improve their bookkeeping, the CGER now serves more than 500 clients representing over 12,000 businesses and has three management centres and a coordination centre called CGER Vallée. ‘Producers were facing a range of issues, especially in the areas of good governance and accounting in their organisations,’ explains Assane Kane, director of CGER Vallée. ‘They were keeping their accounts in school exercise books, where they noted down bits of information. It was not proper bookkeeping. Then, come the end of the crop year, they weren’t able to present their organisations’ accounts in a transparent way.’ This represents a major obstacle to their securing the funding they need for future growing seasons.
CGER’s mission to deliver a combination of technical and financial advice makes it unique in the West African farming sector. However, it still faces challenges in its day-to-day work. For instance, the accounting and financial documents that CGER produces are not yet recognised in the business sector of the Senegal River Valley. Therefore, financial institutions still sometimes refuse to accept CGER-produced documents as the basis for their decisions on loan applications.
With support from Invest for Jobs, CGER intends to build its capacities, diversify and develop its service and consultancy offerings and expand its client portfolio to include new sectors, such as livestock rearing. These new and improved services will help support the activities of producer organisations and local businesses and, in so doing, create jobs in this rural region of Senegal.
In February 2021, Invest for Jobs rolled out a two-pronged support scheme comprising financial assistance and technical support, the latter provided by the French non-profit accounting and consultancy network Cerfrance and focused on improving the services that CGER offers to its clients. As a result of this support, CGER now provides its clients with management training that seeks to build their capacities in this area.
The project also aims to support the digital transformation of CGER’s functions. ‘Today, it is our view that CGER could become much more effective by using new technologies,’ Kane emphasises. As part of this project, all of CGER’s computer equipment has been replaced. The work under way to digitise CGER’s activities will, in particular, enable the Centre to better manage its member organisations, considerably improve the productivity of its consultants and accountants and deliver better internal communication.
By improving management practices that contribute to the revival of economic activities in the region, the support provided to CGER by Invest for Jobs should ultimately lead to the creation of 900 jobs. The project further aims to train around 1,800 people and improve the working conditions of 210 employees working for the Centre’s client organisations. Lastly, it should enable CGER to recruit 120 new clients and provide 35 of its client organisations with access to new technologies.
The project’s initial successes are already evident. In a study of CGER clients conducted at the beginning of 2022, 70% stated that they had noticed a significant improvement in the business environment of the Senegal River Valley.
‘We have succeeded in helping a number of organisations that had for a long time been unable to produce crops to resume production. One such example is an agricultural area supporting 375 farmers who, thanks to our work and the assistance provided by Invest for Jobs, have been able to start farming their land again. This is a very important achievement, and we hope that in the future we will be able to further develop this model in the Senegal River Valley region,’ Kane explains.
CGER has also succeeded in persuading Senegal’s agricultural bank, La Banque Agricole (LBA), to reconsider its general position on financing producer organisations with the establishment of a loan repayment moratorium. Consequently, the LBA provided a local water union (an association managing irrigation water supply from the Senegal River) with a loan of more than XOF 85 million. With this financing, inputs can be procured for the preparation and use of 524 hectares for rice growing and polyculture in Ndioum Commune. This measure will enable 370 households to resume their main economic activities.
CGER is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH as part of the Special Initiative "Decent Work for a Just Transition" of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
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