Financing women entrepreneurs in West Africa
The bright blue and yellow Keur Mbir Ndao water kiosk is a colourful contrast to the earth-coloured buildings in Thieudeme village, Thiès Region. Located east of Senegal’s capital city Dakar, Thiès is one of the areas – along with Dakar, Tambacounda, St Louis and Kédougou – where Oshun Senegal has operated since 2017.
20% of Senegal’s population does not have access to safe water1. Droughts, desertification and polluted water sources contribute to water scarcity. The Covid-19 crisis created a higher demand for water for handwashing and consumption. Dry city taps and deteriorated water quality are preventing access to safe drinking water.
Oshun Senegal offers filtered and disinfected drinking water through an innovative water kiosk franchise model. Each water kiosk is a safe water enterprise managed by a local microentrepreneur.
Women in water businesses
Ms Thiam received support from Oshun to start a safe water enterprise kiosk. Today, she runs the Keur Mbir Ndao water kiosk in Thieudeme.
Each water kiosk provides safe drinking water at affordable prices to 200 families on average. The water kiosks are connected to an application that monitors water supply and quality remotely. Oshun Senegal also provides mentoring and training to help these women entrepreneurs run and expand their microenterprises. Capacity building and business support are critical for women entrepreneurs to manage and grow their businesses.
The water kiosks contribute to job creation, especially for women in the village, like Khady Sarr, who was hired by Ms Thiam to staff the kiosk.
Financing innovation and scale in Senegal
In 2019, Aqua for All co-financed the pilot of Oshun’s franchise model in Senegal. This pilot tested the expansion of Oshun’s existing network (30 water kiosks) primarily in Kédougou and Tambacounda in the southeast of Senegal. Our funding was also used for training and support for women microentrepreneurs.
Oshun Senegal has installed 71 water kiosks in peri-urban areas servicing 82,000 people. This has created business opportunities for many women, while securing safe drinking water for 12,500 people at home and 69,500 people at schools and health centres.
In 2021, Aqua for All granted Oshun Senegal €250,000 to scale up its operations. At this stage, Oshun Senegal will focus on raising awareness on safe water consumption and improving its kiosks’ services. Oshun Senegal aims to scale up its operations and increase access to safe drinking water by diversifying its income generating activities.
‘Aqua for All is perfectly aligned with Oshun’s philosophy. We believe in social entrepreneurship as a sustainable and effective solution for ensuring access to essential services. Aqua for All’s support has greatly contributed to what Oshun has achieved in Senegal. We need partners like Aqua for All to promote the relevance of private operators, like Oshun, among local authorities and actors,’ said Simon Louvel, Regional Director Oshun.
What started as an innovative idea, Oshun Senegal’s business model has proved to be ready to take the next step by improving water kiosks’ services, expanding the network and raising awareness on safe water consumption. Scaling up will help Oshun Senegal become sustainable and an attractive investment opportunity.
An integrated approach to safe water and sanitation for rural Burkina Faso
Based on the Senegal experience, Oshun started a similar project in Bobo Dioulasso, addressing both safe water and sanitation. Aqua for All granted €146,000 to co-fund this pilot, which will run until mid-2022.
Bobo Dioulasso is the second largest city in Burkina Faso. With a fast-growing population (around 11% per year2), water supply and sanitation are under pressure. In rural Burkina Faso, where 70% of the 20,8 million population live, access to at least basic drinking water services is 35% (2017)3 due to water scarcity and pollution, and environmental degradation. Furthermore, only 11% of the population has access to at least basic sanitation services in rural areas.
Oshun aims at installing 27 safe water enterprise kiosks in rural villages around Bobo Dioulasso that will be managed by local associations. Oshun will pilot a business model selling water with two quality levels; raw water for irrigation or livestock, and treated safe drinking water. Oshun will also set the foundations for a sanitation market by introducing a movable latrine technology designed by the local association SEEPAT, and a digital savings platform through YELKAI, a local start up. GRET NGO, an experienced organisation in social marketing, will provide expertise support to the sanitation component.
‘Drinking water and sanitation must work together and reinforce each other. Access to clean water helps to fight waterborne diseases, but without hygiene and basic sanitation services at home, WASH projects cannot meet all their objectives. In Burkina Faso, Oshun and local actors develop projects combining their expertise and a water and sanitation approach. This results in greater impact and improves the projects’ sustainability,’ said Marine Muller-Cisse, Country Director, Oshun Burkina Faso.