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IAD Graduate Student Project - Strengthening Women’s Entrepreneurship in Non- Timber Forest Products: Néré Processing in Madina Oula, Guinea

Guinea 1


Post-Project Report

Cornell Institute for African Development

February 2017

Hillary Mara, MPA ’17 CIPA

Strengthening Women’s Entrepreneurship in Non- Timber Forest Products: Néré Processing in Madina Oula, Guinea

Project Description: Women’s economic empowerment is a global development priority that is related to at least twelve of the United Nation’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. Some of the mostimportant outcomes of empowerment include the women’s reinvestment in children’s well-being and education; economic growth and improved productivity; and higher participation of womenin decision-making structures. These outcomes can all lead to comprehensive community development with transformative effects in developing countries.

Rural communities in the Republic of Guinea depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, including both agricultural products and foraged forest products. One key forest product (hereby referred to as NTFP, non-timber forest product) is Néré, the seedpod of the tree Parkia biglobosa, also known as African Locust bean. Néré seeds are dried, fermented, pounded, and used as a traditional spice known locally as “Soumbara.” Soumbara is widely consumed across ethnic and regional groups in Guinea and surrounding countries, eaten daily in stews or with rice, and it has a high nutritional value: it is rich in protein, iron and vitamin C. Néré is typically processed on a household level, though is also commercially available in cities. Otherparts of the seedpod such as the pulp are also consumed. Studies in Nigeria and Burkina Fasoshow that the value of Néré doubles when processed into Soumbara: in Burkina Faso, Néré fruitsprovide up to 73% of the total income per household.This project intervened to reinforce the business, leadership, and technical capacity of thirtywomen entrepreneurs in food processing in the rural community of Bas-Simbaraya, MadinaOula, Kindia region, in the Republic of Guinea, in collaboration with the Guinean NGONARSEME. The intervention facilitated the establishment of a women’s cooperative, named bythe members Groupement Kenda (translation: Cooperative Soumbara) to process, package, andsell Soumbara in local and regional markets. All participating women are members of VillageSavings & Loans Associations (VSLA), who had previously begun to build their skills in moneymanagement, leadership, and collective action, but may lack technical skills to profitably investthe money they save and borrow.