E-commerce, the path to development for the youth and women of Senegal

12 June 2017
ITC News

President Macky Sall met with Senegalese entrepreneurs in Brussels, at the European Development Days. They presented their digital enterprises to the head of state, and discussed the challenges of e-commerce as well as its role in the creation of quality employment, and promotion of Senegalese produce worldwide.

After a career in finance, Marietou Diouf decided to follow her passion for natural cosmetics, and founded EtouNature. Her company places Senegalese specialties at the centre of the stage, transforming local produce – such as the Baobab, Moringa and Karité – into pharmaceutical products. E-commerce gave her the opportunity to export these Senegalese specialties worldwide, and access new sources of income in doing so.

“After many years in France and Canada, I returned to Senegal to help female cooperatives in the transformation of base-level products”, Marietou Diouf, Director of EtouNature.

The budding Senegalese middle class is fond of high-quality imports, often available exclusively on digital platforms such as Amazon and Zalando. This increasing consumer base has a reduced access to this type of service, given logistic and payment-related issues.

Oumar Yam, Founder of OuiCarry, has developed a business which addresses these issues: “We are an e-logistics business which allows Senegalese consumers to buy from anywhere in the world, and have it delivered to their doorstep”.

Despite the opportunities offered by the spreading of internet, and the growth of e-commerce, Marietou and Oumar recognise that they are a long way from reaching the sector’s full potential.

Current obstacles to this type of business in Senegal include a difficult Customs law, constrained international payment options and a lack of trust between consumers and providers.

Macky Sall’s visit gave Oumar and Marietou an opportunity to voice these concerns, and share their hopes for the future of the digital sector in Senegal.

With the support of organisations such as the Senegalese Agency of Export Promotion, and the International Trade Centre, their voices gain traction, and fulfil the International Trade Centre’s mandate of connecting small and medium enterprises to the global market.

“Trade impact for Good’ means creating quality employment to allow individual contribution to the economy and valorise their identity, their communities and protect their environment”, reminds Arancha González, Executive Director of ITC.