The SENS Benin cooperative supports the development of solidarity-based businesses in Benin by supporting activities with high socio-economic impacts in Africa.
SENS Benin is a provider of advisory services for the development of solidarity-based businesses, entrepreneurship training and advice on the management of solidarity-based value chains. It is composed of a team of 17 people spread over two sites: Dassa-Zoumé (Hills), in the center of Benin, and Parakou, in the north, in the prefecture of the department of Borgou; two territories dominated by family farming.
Since 2013, SENS Benin has supported nearly 40 solidarity companies in the country. These have involved more than 1,500 vulnerable rural producers in their activities and have created nearly 500 full-time jobs.
Born at the initiative of the cooperative society SENS (Solidarité entreprises nord-sud), based in Margny-lès-Compiègne, in the north of France and the Groupement Intercommunale des Collines (GIC). Kèmi Fakambi, the director of SENS Benin company, has “the conviction that enterprise and entrepreneurial skills are necessary for the development of the territories”; she is imbued with “the desire to bring about and accompany economic actors rather than “beneficiaries” of development projects.”
The company’s approach is based on the principles of the Charter “Entreprendre Solidaire avec son Territoire”, signed by entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the territory. It states that each company in solidarity must involve vulnerable people who want to get by on their business, respect fair trading principles and have a lasting and significant impact on their territories.
Pierrette Djemain is an example of an entrepreneur accompanied by SENS Benin. Originally from Abomey and settled in Dassa-Zoumé for several years, she found herself without financial resources after the death of her husband. She met SENS Benin in 2014, which helped her develop her activity of transforming moringa leaves into powder, a plant that helps fight malnutrition and its associated diseases.
In order to involve rural and urban households in difficult situations in her activity Pierrette convinces the households in her neighborhood to grow moringa plants, from which she buys the leaves. With the support of SENS Benin, it has set up a nursery: distribute more than 6,000 moringa plants and expand its network of suppliers to the surrounding neighborhoods and villages.
Today, Pierrette works with five other widows, two of whom process with her and three of whom are in charge of the supply from her 30 suppliers (neighbors, vulnerable people from whom she buys moringa leaves and who can thus generate additional income). Recently, she has been aiming to develop products based on Artemisia (artemisia annua), an antimalarial plant she discovered during a training organized by SENS Benin last April.
The SENS Benin team of advisors supports solidarity entrepreneurs at every stage of their company’s life and on the eight axes of value creation of the solidarity company (market, production, supply, human resources, governance and organization, profitability, financing and solidarity dimension). The company also offers two to three internships each year for its partners in higher education, notably at the Technological University of Compiègne (process engineering, renewable energy) and at the Institut La Salle – Beauvais (as part of their Master in Food Security of Cities).
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The portrait of Pierrette Djemain in video