When first meeting the all-female loan collective of Djackou Mbougane, the fierce independence of each member is quickly apparent. “We love not having to ask for help,” laughs group secretary Yandé, as the collective busies themselves with their profitable market garden.
Formed in 2017, the group of close neighbours and friends decided to grow ground nuts (peanuts) in an available plot of land in their community, just outside the Senegalese city of Fatick. VisionFund helped identify the collective and the economic activities best suited to them, then distributed a loan to each half of the group – just over 1.5 million Central African Francs (USD$2,588) for each.
Married at 15 and having raised five children, there simply haven’t been opportunities for Yandé Diouf to work for a living. When her husband became unexpectedly ill, Yandé was introduced to microfinance when she approached World Vision Senegal for some loan assistance to buy seeds so she could begin farming her own land. Though her family was resistant – being unfamiliar with loan structures, and worried about debt – Yandé persisted in her application and began taking very small loans as an individual, farming her own land for the first time.
As other women in the community began to take similar loans, it made sense to come together, and the Djackou Mbougane loan collective was born in 2017. “Sharing our ideas and skills together is very helpful,” Yandé says of the group. “All of us work hard and help each other. Women are much stronger than men.” Yandé has been the secretary of the group since 2017.
Today, Yandé has two main businesses, thanks to three loan cycles with the group that have netted her a 50-110% profit each time: her market garden plot with the other women, and animals she raises on her property to sell. The results of these initiatives are impressive. Yandé is proud to be providing complete financial support to her twin daughters at university, paying for all their accommodation, living expenses and tuition in the capital, Dakar.
“My children can see that their mother works hard, and they are proud of me because I am always able to provide,” says Yandé, adding with a smile: “Earning money is wonderful.”
Albert, her VisionFund loan officer, describes Yandé as a stabilising force for the group who supports the women around her. “Yandé always pays back her loan on time, and will grow her business successfully if she continues to work with the group,” he says.
Yandé’s children aren’t the only ones who are proud of her work: Yandé’s husband, Diaga, is very supportive of her business. “He likes it because I buy good food now,” Yandé laughs, “and I can provide for the family all year around.”