Friday, 31 October 2014

What true empowerment looks like

Written by 

aissitou1“The business gives me more power in the community.”

Meet Aissatou, a farmer, mother of four, and breadwinner for her family. A few months ago, Aissatou purchased a CTI grinder and began selling grinding services to her neighbors and peanut butter at the market.

Words like “empowerment” get thrown around casually in the nonprofit world, but what does empowering women business leaders really mean?

Well it’s about so much more than reducing drudgery and raising incomes. Women like Aissatou become well respected decision-makers in their communities and influential role models. So while she’s raising their own standard of living, Aissatou is also elevating the status of women in her village and in Senegal.

An interview with Aissatou

Tell us about your village

I am from Lende, a village in the community of Thiargny in Louga region of Senegal. We live 30 KM from the main road, and we have water, but no electricity yet. We are a Pular community, and we mostly work in livestock, raising animals like goats, cows, and chickens.

Tell us about your grinder business

Every Tuesday I go to the weekly market and sell products in the community. Six months ago, I bought a CTI grinder. It’s helped me use my time more efficiently. I provide grinding services to other women, and I sell peanut butter at the market now. Now I can grind about 10 kg of peanut butter a day and sell it at the weekly market, and earn about $1 more each day. I use the money to feed and support my family.

The grinder is simple. It’s durable, I don’t need help to fix it, and I don’t have the face the need to find gas.

I like that, in my community, I’ve been able to find an opportunity to create a business and become self-sufficient.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud, as a woman, to be a leader and have respect in my community. I’m proud that I don’t need to ask for help, I can take care of my family with the daily work I’m doing: raising my cattle (cows, lams, goats, chickens) and providing grinding services with the CTI grinder I bought. Now I’m proud to sell peanut butter I made with the CTI grinder too.

I am also the 336 member of “PAMECAS,” a microfinance institute operating in our community ten years ago. As one of the first members of the community, I am a board member and can participate in decision making.

What do you do with your extra income?

I have four daughters that go to school, and I use the money to pay for their school fees, and to feed them, and help support my husband, of course. I also save some of the money so I can get more loans from the Micro-finance Institute.
How does it feel to own a business?

It is very important for me to own a business, and now I can use more extra time in a more efficient manner, and the business gives me more power in the community too.

How does it feel to be a woman leader?

It makes me meet with other people and this is important for me. Sometime it can be tough to be a woman leader because within the group we have different ethnicities and different ages—the young and old women have different points of view. But it’s quite interesting because they follow me and trust to me.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope to see my daughters more educated than me so they can play a role in the community. And, of course, I want my business grow!

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.