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Fighting Poverty through Profit: Job Creation and Income Generation in Selected High-Impact Sectors in Senegal- Cashew Processing

Selling raw commodities rather than finished products represents a significant loss of potential wage and profit revenues. In the case of cashew nuts in Senegal, the loss is extreme when comparing the high value of finished cashews to raw nuts. At project inception in 2001, almost all raw cashew nuts were exported to India for processing at half the value of locally finished, processed nuts. India’s near cashew monopoly and Senegal’s lack of processing know-how meant that the Senegalese population and economy were not realizing the immense employment and economic benefit from processing cashews.

Since 2001 and continuing today, EnterpriseWorks/VITA’s project in Senegal has led to the development of and access to improved cashew processing methods and technologies; self-sustaining commercial links joining small processors upstream to suppliers of processing equipment and downstream to commercial distributors of finished nuts; the adoption of quality control and packaging norms meeting international standards; credit counseling and improved access to financing specifically for new cashew processing small businesses; as well as the execution of a general marketing campaign aimed at promoting cashew processing and the economic export of finished cashew nuts.

With the challenging goal of developing a new sub-sector, EWV laid the foundation for the growth of Senegal’s cashew sub-sector. EWV’s work has resulted in the emergence of many small and growing businesses, increases in household earnings, and employment for women and handicapped persons.  Importantly, these achievements have contributed to the alleviation of the regional economic tension that has contributed to southern Senegal’s long civil conflict. Just in the last two years, profits and wages earned from this activity exceeded $210,000.