Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Latest from Senegal- read all about it!

A little more than two months till my departure, I’m really in the last leg of this journey. The first few months I was here were a scramble to find my footing, adjust to the culture and gather information. The second leg was a cross between developing and establishing my project at work while at the same time jumping between visitors and vacation days/weeks… Now that all my visitors have come and gone and now that I have a good grasp on life and work in Dakar, my last leg will be focused on making things happen- using what I’ve learned to get the project for Fair Trade up and running and to a point where I feel comfortable stepping away or handing it over. Same goes for my work at Bioessence. Here’s the news from both the Beyond Fair Trade Initiative and Bioessence Laboratories.


NEW INTERN: From July to the end of August, a Bulgarian student from UCLA came to Dakar to work with me on the Fair Trade project. Hristo Marokov’s experience with project development and insight into the factors hindering economic growth in Senegal helped immensely during his short stay and he continues to work with me from California. It was so wonderful to have someone to bounce ideas off of and I only wish he didn’t have to leave to go back to school!

NEW WEBSITE: Hristo took on the task of creating a new website specifically for the Beyond Fair Trade Initiative so that all our work, proposals and research could be easily accessible to interested partners! We are continually updating this website in French and English and it’s a great place to visit if you want more details about the development of this project! Visit:

GLOBAL GREENS CONGRESS 2012: To launch the concept of fair trade cooperatives as a method for adding value to agricultural production in Senegal, Earth Rights Institute will be leading a 2 day workshop during the annual Global Greens Conference in March 2012! This annual conference assembles members from different Green parties world wide and they will be holding the congress in Dakar this coming year. Because of ERIs work with sustainable economic trade systems, the planning committee was interested in Beyond Fair Trade playing a key role in the event.

We will be inviting representatives from Ecovillages to present their expectations for fair trade between villages, representatives from several different non-governmental organizations, and from the National Ecovillage Agency of Senegal. Through discussions and presentations we will be developing ideas that will help producers to work together through community led cooperatives. This is a great opportunity for us to launch the Beyond Fair Trade project and attract support from other international actors that will be attending the conference! More information about the conference is available here:


ORGANIC CERTIFICATION APPROVED: This month Ecocert approved Bioessence laboratories for organic certification of Baobab fruit!! Since my last trip to Kédougou for the organic certification inspection I really haven’t been too involved. Mame Khary Diene (director of Bioessence) returned from France about a month ago with her new baby girl and has been pretty preoccupied with being a new mother. In Kédougou, it’s still mid rainy season which makes working there pretty difficult, and traveling there even more difficult. There’s still a lot of follow up to assure that Bioessence is ready for any later inspection from Ecocert, but the hardest part is done. Now its just assuring that all the procedures and training that we developed are put into practice!

VIDEO: In 2008, Mame Khary Diene won the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award for the most influential new business in Africa- Bioessence Laboratories. Now in 2011, Cartier came to Senegal to follow up on her progress. When I was in Kédougou in May, a French camera man came to film the women in action and now the film is available to watch on youtube (sorry its only in French…) here:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tribute to the brave souls

A lot has happened since I last wrote, and I promise to get caught up eventually, but first I wanted to write this blog as a tribute to the brave souls who came to visit me over the summer! Daniel Pluth, Tom and Karen Casavant, Libby Casavant and Megan Cochrane.

I’ve often thought how much I like living in Dakar, except for the fact that its so far away from all the people I love and wish I could be close to, but aside from the obvious joy it brought me to see friends and family after being apart for 6 months, there were a few other thing I gained from the experience:

First, I get to revisit and hone my skills as an adventure tour guide. You have just to ask one of my visitors to confirm that visiting Senegal is different than your average vacation- I guarantee they each have their own horrifying survival story to tell. Its actually crossed my mind that I could make good money organizing tours in Senegal now that I have the connections and experience. The tagline would read something like: “Have your African Adventure- horrifying bus ride included at no extra charge!”

Second, I have become an excellent translator! Each of my visitors made a valiant effort to speak both French and Wolof while they were here, but there was some translating needed. In conversations with my friends and host family, I really enjoyed being able to bridge the communication gap and in doing so bridge the space between my life in the US and my life in Senegal! I love that now, when I’m missing someone from home, I can talk to my Senegalese friends about it and they actually know who I’m talking about! Vise versa, when I return to the US it will be so nice to have some people that understand who and what I’m missing back in Senegal.

Finally, the great thing about having guests is that you have an obligation to visit and do all the interesting and touristy things that you might not do on your own time. Having four different guests really pushed me discover new areas of Dakar and Senegal.

Like the hidden waterfalls of Ségu

the birds-eye view of Dakar from the fez atop the largest copper man in the world (Statue de la Renaissance)

the wildlife preserve isle de la Madeline via the dodgiest boat ride I’ve ever had

and an island in the Sine Saloum where Muslims, Animists and Christians live together as harmoniously as the sacred Baobab which has literally become one with two trees!

Each one of these things I can honestly say I would not have done if I hadn’t had such adventurous and adaptable guests! Thank you all for coming to visit!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God bless the rains down in Africa

After living for 6 months in the dry heat of Senegal, it finally rained- and man did it rain! It happened the morning of June 25th at 10am. I was in my room when suddenly I realized how dark it had gotten. Then the wind started up, swinging my shutters open and shut and sending dust through the air like a tornado! Even before the rain started to fall, you could smell it in the air, and then it came down in sheets and I barely got my window closed in time to prevent my room from becoming a lake! It was magnificent! The past month or so, the clouds have been frequenting the sky more often and the air has been noticeably more humid. When it finally rained today it was like the clouds were breathing a huge sigh of relief and I did too. In fact I ran out on the rooftop terrace outside my room to dance in the rain and then ran downstairs to the rest of the family and proclaimed "Alhamdulillah" (Praise God!). Mama Africa joined me in my rejoicing, but not everyone was so excited. My host brother, Cissé, was disappointed that the rain had started so early (normally the first big rain isn't until July) and Marie, who had been out getting the bread, came into the house a little soggy and not smiling.
The rains cause a lot of flooding in Dakar, and even though everyone understands that the rain is important for rural areas, it makes life more difficult for two months in the city. I'm sure the novelty of rain will soon wear off, but for today it was wonderful!

Its been ages since I last wrote a blog, and a lot has happened over the past couple months. First, Bioessence finished their application for Organic Certification (we’re still waiting for the verdict). Second, I had some visitors and was able to take some time off work to travel with them!

Despite all my reservations, the inspector, M. Boukary (picture right), for Ecocert (the French organic certification body Bioessence is working with) came from Burkina Fasso to Kédougou to see if the procedures and the organization was up to their harsh standards. I wasn’t worried because Bioessence isn’t secretly adding chemicals or stripping the environment of its natural resources. No, the Baobab fruit is about as organic as it gets coming straight from the Baobab forests of southern Senegal and being harvested manually without bringing harm to the environment. What really worried me was the lack of organization and documentation that would help Bioessence to be considered professional and transparent enough to assure a product that is uncontaminated and traceable from harvest of the raw material to packaging of the finished product.

I went to Kédougou about 5 days before the inspector from Ecocert was to arrive so that I could prepare the women’s groups and make sure that all the facilitators were available. The inspector would need to see every production unit and also where the fruit was collected. He would also need to speak with the producers directly and all the facilitators. But since he was only able to stay in Kédougou for no more than 3 days, there was a lot to organize beforehand. Luckily I had some help!

My boyfriend, Dan, arrived in Senegal just before the big inspection, and while I’m sure he was hoping to have a more relaxing vacation, I really appreciated having his help and support! I also had Basse with me as our driver from Bioessence who did so much more than just driving us around. Our mission included:

1) Finalizing formal written partnerships between Bioessence and the women’s groups/ fruit harvesters of Kédougou.

2) Providing a short training on organic certification (what does it mean to be organic, why get the certification, quality and hygiene procedures required, etc).

3) Organizing demonstrations and interviews for the inspector.

Organization has been the real challenge since written contracts and documentation are not developing Africa’s strong suit. To build what Ecocert calls a “System for Internal Control” we used a mix of on the ground supervision by designated members of the production groups and a chain of documentation to record production and practices.

When M Boukary came to Kédougou, he was escorted by Adama Diop, the mother of Mame Khary (director of Bioessence). She is also one of the most enterprising, motivated women I’ve met here in Senegal (or anywhere, for that matter) and her presence during the visit really made everything come together! We made a good team because she knew how to communicate with the local producers (literally, she could speak their language) much better than I could, and I knew who to contact on the ground and the technicalities of the internal system of production. We were also helped by the fact that the inspector was not on a mission to seek out all the faults of Bioessence, but more to help identify areas of weakness that we can strengthen as we get certification. It turns out that they often deal with businesses that are much less organized than we were and he was fairly impressed by what we had been able to do so far.

So now we wait to. In my opinion, even if we don’t get the certification, we have succeeded. Just looking around the factory in Dakar you can see how this certification has pushed Bioessence to develop and raise their standards. In Kédougou also, there are new storage buildings, equipment, signed partnerships and promises for further development in the future.

It’s been very rewarding taking part in this process and the lessons I’ve learned about running a transparent and sustainable enterprise in Senegal will serve as a guide as I continue to work with enterprise development in Senegal.

To see more photos from the trip, check out the link to photo album "Dan and Kayla in Kédougou".

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mission Impossible

I just spent the last 16 days in Kédougou on a mission for Bioessence to continue preparing for organic certification- something that requires a level of organization and equipping that has been relatively nonexistent up to this point. Along with a team of 5 others from Bioessence we were also sent to build two stocking containers and negotiate the purchasing of baobab grains from villages to be sent back to Dakar on the truck that came charged with the building materials. It was a mission filled with many unexpected challenges and complications, and for that it became lovingly known to us all as “Mission Impossible”

There was sweat, blood, frustration, confusion, yelling and even some tears, but just as Tom Cruise never fails to do, we accomplished our mission (more or less) and survived to tell the story.

The missions:

1. To construct two stocking containers (one in Bandafassi one in Ebarak) to protect Baobab grains and other Bioessence products from the environment and from contamination.

2. To purchase Baobab grains from the villages in the area and load them onto the truck to be driven back to the factory in Dakar where they will be pressed to obtain the oil used in their cosmetics.

3. To collect necessary information about current working conditions in the villages in order to prepare for obtaining organic certification. Also to devise an organizational structure to facilitate and legitimize the relationship Bioessence has with the producers in rural areas.

The team:


Vieux (left) was with us to put together the structures for Ebarak and Bandafassi. Assane (right) was sort of the operational leader for our team. Some of my fondest memories of the trip I shared with Assane, repeatedly going over the financial deficiencies and logistical problems we faced.


Basse Mboup: By profession he is a driver, but by birthright he is a Griot ( the caste of Senegalese society that are story tellers and musicians). Even though the caste system is no longer dominant in Senegalese culture, Basse fulfilled his family tradition and provided a much needed comic relief to some more tense situations.

Gallo the truck driver and mechanic. We also started calling him Bébé Gaté (spoiled baby) because he pretty much did whatever he wanted and slept way past when everyone was up and ready to begin working.

Oumar was also along for construction of the storage buildings. He was no d oubt the quietest member of our group, but also the hardest worker, never complaining or showing anything but a smile as he carried out manual labor in the heat of the day and late into the night.

The setting:

Kédougou in April is hot, very hot and dry. The temperature reaches 107 degrees midday and cools off to about 75 degrees overnight. The dryness is at its peak and everyone is waiting in anticipation for the long rainy season which runs from mid may until October. Kédougou itself has typically had reliable electricity but just recently there have been long blackouts lasting most of the day or several days even. This has made the heat even more intolerable with out the use of fans or refrigerators to provide cold water.

Village of Ebarak

*More pictures are available to see under "Photo Albums" on the right side bar.

To be continued....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Get to the point!

Living in a different culture forces you to question the most basic “rules of society”. Why they exist, how they came to be and why we follow them? Certain things that I’ve always thought of as “polite” or “respectful” behaviors in the US are actually considered rude here. There are many many examples to choose from, but for today I’ll share just one:

“Get to the point”

In the US, time is a precious commodity and anyone who wastes your time is rude. In the work environment, if you need something from a colleague you get to the point and let them get back to work so as not to be a burden.

In Senegal, however, you’re considered rude if you don’t spend at least a couple minutes exchanging pleasantries and asking how they are and how are their families, friends, chickens etc. Then once you’ve established everyone’s wellbeing you move onto ask your question. This goes for random people on the street too. If you need to ask for directions you begin by greeting the person and asking them how they’re doing before getting to the question.

From an outsiders perspective this all seemed very superficial at first- just making small talk to give the appearance of really caring so that you can ask a question. But I like that people here haven’t forgotten all together that we should first introduce ourselves as humans before we turn to business. In the US it is much more time efficient to skip over the pleasantries, but it becomes all too convenient to see people only as the job they’re doing and treat them as such.

Regardless, rules are rules where ever you are and when it comes down to it, whether they make sense or not doesn’t really matter. If you don’t follow the rules you aren’t going to get very far. If I didn’t take time to chat with my fellow employees I would come off as cold and actually get less accomplished because people would take twice as long to respond to any requests (if at all). But by taking the 2 min to converse and “small talk” I save hours in the long run and also get a chance to know my coworkers a little better!

Reader Challenge: Next time you go to the grocery store or the bank (or something else- be creative), try to spend at least 20 seconds finding out how that person is doing. I'm sure some of you do this already, but I'm interested to hear how people react!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The power to develop!

Everyday I am confronted with the hindrances to economic development that come from outside the country and from within. There never seems to be an easy or obvious solution to these problems and I spend hours each day just driving myself crazy trying to figure out why there are no jobs, why people are living in poverty and why the many natural resources are being thrown away. You can blame it on the lack of education, corruption in the government and cultural barriers, but there is a more obvious problem that I’m reminded of every time I come to work and hear the hum of the generator; Power cuts!

Lately the electricity shortage has been causing a lot of frustration and anger in Dakar. Often the electricity will go off in the morning about 10am and won’t turn on again until after 5pm! What could Senegal accomplish if there was reliable electricity?

1) People would be able to get work done during the day instead of waiting for the power to come back in the evening.

2) Factories and machinery could be built to increase economic growth.

3) Companies from outside of Senegal wouldn’t be so cautious about investing in the economy.

4) Street lights and business lights could run at night allowing longer hours of business and safety for those venturing out after 8pm.

And much more….

Now, I realize I can’t blame all of Senegal’s problems on the power cuts, but you have to admit, having power throughout the day would give Senegal a huge step up. And it seems so easy- just turn the power on!!

So why is Senegal living in the dark? I’ve been asking around to find a suitable answer. The Villon is Senelec(the state owned power company) that provides the power for all of Senegal (or at least they are supposed to). People call them "Societé des tenebres", litterally meaning the Company of Darkness. Some people have told me that it’s the outdated meters and equipment that is the problem, but its also just been bad planning. With the growing population of Dakar and increased usage of power for running factories and small business, Senelec simply didn’t plan for it and now they randomly cut power to make it last through the month.

What is needed is a new strategic plan, not for the month, but for the next 5 to 10 years that reflects population growth and increased usage. Even in the short term just having a schedule of when the power will be cut where would be an improvement and help people plan their day and schedule work. Unfortunately they aren’t even that organized yet...

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the power to come back on at work, and reading by candle light in the evenings.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February: a month of travel

Its been a busy month of February! I can’t believe that the last blog that I posted was my trip to Kédougou- that seems like so long ago already and a lot has happened since then. Here’s a quick run down of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to:

Right after I got back from the trip I had to switch gears from Bioessence and Baobob trees to networking and presentations at the World Social Forum (being held in Dakar Feb 6-11). After the Forum was over I ran off to Kafountain, in the Casamance region of Senegal, for a dance and music festival with a friend. When I returned I spent about half a week in Dakar catching up on emails and work before leaving on a three day expedition to visit some of the ecovillages near Dakar. And that brings me to today, back in Dakar, trying to fit everything I've learned into my project for fair trade and microfinance!

The World Social Forum: “The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action” (

The forum this year brought together more than 200 organizations from around the world and many more individuals from the university and elsewhere that were anxious to discuss problems, experiences and solutions to poverty and development. I was in charge of organizing EREV and SEMs involvement and visibility at the event (which basically meant setting up our stall and making sure there was information to hand out and people to answer questions). The forum was outdoors at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar. There were rows of stalls that had been set up for registered organizations and then large tents for meetings, lectures and discussions. The picture above is of me and Cissé setting up our 3X3 meter stall for the event.

While it was a great opportunity to have contact with several large organizations and present our activities to some possible funders, the majority of the week I was repeating the same information about who we are to college students that were looking for work and internships. At first I was excited to see so many students participating in this forum of social change, but after a while I realized that for most of them this was just another way to search for employment (which we weren't able to offer). Most students wouldn't even ask what we do or even look at the name of the organization before asking for a business card or brochure.

To avoid running out of materials I tried to weed out who was really interested in Microfinance or environmental protection, and who was just collecting contacts. One student came up to me with a huge stack of pamphlets and reading materials in his hands and proudly explained, "I've been to all the organizations to get information and you are the only one that I haven't gotten anything from yet". I kindly asked him what his interest was in our organization and he looked at me in confusion and asked again if he could have a pamphlet. Then i explained that we were only giving out pamphlets to those who were interested in our organization, but that I would be happy to answer any questions he had. He just stared at me like maybe I hadn't understood his question and asked, "so you don't have any materials?". At that point I just said "no, we don't" and went to talk to someone else.

There were however many good conversations and contacts that I met throughout the week. Discussions that opened my eyes to new approaches to development and contacts with organizations working in Microfinance and environmental sustainability that could be potential partners in our work! I also had a blast working with Cissé (one of my host brothers who also does some work with the informatics program at EREV) and some other volunteers. You can see our team and some other friends we made at neighboring stalls to the left.

More to follow about the rest of February- Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kédougou Part 1

Finally, a week after it was scheduled, my trip to Kédougou with Bioessence Labs finally took place. All together I think it could be counted as a success even though we only accomplished 1 out of the 3 tasks that we were sent to do.
1. Map the regions where the Baobob trees (picture left) are located for the Bio Certification by taking GPS points outside of fields and village areas.
2. Buy Baobob grains from the women's groups in the region
3. Build storage structures in two of the villages with which Bioessence has a partnership to protect the grains from spoiling during the rainy months.

As for #1, we actually accomplished this task, but it took the whole trip to cover the territories where the Baobob fruit is collected. Much of the terrain was accessible with our Mercedes SUV (though just barely) and then we would bushwack to get out of the village and fields for an accurate mapping of natural areas. The lead on this project was Soulaye Ndeye, a man in his 50s who works with the ministry of water and forests. He agreed to help Bioessence with this project because of his family connection to the director, and because he was also working on a project in the area; evaluating the impact of human consumption of Baobob fruit on the chimpanzee habitat (the Chimpanzee project just happens to be in collaboration with Jill Pruetz at Iowa State University). To the right is the team I worked with in the field. Here is a map of the area we were in and the villages we visited:,-12.549133&spn=1.271359,2.469177&t=h&z=9

As for #2: We ran into some problems here because we didn't have a way to transport the grains back to Dakar and Bioessence didn't send the money to buy them. So all we were really able to do was connect with the women that had grains available and find out how much they would eventually sell to Bioessence and at what price. I also spent quite a bit of time speaking with the group presidents to find out how they felt about their current partnership with Bioessence and what they thought could be improved. One of the main things that they suggested was a system of pre-financement from Bioessence so that they could buy more Baobob fruit at the beginning of the season and also providing storage and machines that would increase their productivity and prevent the grains from spoiling in the rain.

As for #3: Even though we already have land set aside for the building sites we weren't able to start construction because the materials that were supposed to arrive with another Bioessence staff never came.

My favorite part of the trip was the day I spent in Bandefassi with the group of women that produce baobob powder and grains (seeds) as well as Fonio (a type of couscous that is very popular in the region). To the right I'm talking to the president of the group, Tacko. I could try to explain the process of converting the Baobob fruit into the powder and prepared seeds that they sell, but I'd rather show you...

There's a lot more to tell about the trip and what I learned, but this will have to do for now. I'll put up more pictures soon!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dem ligay (Getting to work)

Given the contents of my blogs until now you may be wondering “Wasn’t she going to Senegal to work?” Because my arrival was so close to the holidays there wasn’t a lot of work to get started on until two weeks ago. Most of the other people I’m working with were on vacation soon after I arrived. This gave me a chance to get to know my family, Yoff and adjust to life in my new home before starting with work. Thank goodness, because I feel so much better prepared to deal with all the complexities of beginning a fair trade project now that I’ve acclimated to my environment.

My work here has a few different components and so far the most difficult part has been identifying exactly whom I should be working with and what I need to be doing. Because the project coordinator is living in France, I don’t have a specific person to report to when I go into the office. Nola (the coordinator) offers me guidelines and we communicate through emails and weekly Skype video-conference calls, but a lot of the logistics on the ground are up to me. It’s a little daunting to have so much responsibility as a novice in the field, but also wonderful to have some liberty and be able to contribute so much to the project.

I’m learning a lot - not just about fair-trade or development, but also about how to take an idea for a project, find the funding and the support, and put it into action. I couldn’t do it by myself and I’m so glad to have all of the support and the guidance I’ve received from Zion, family, friends and my colleagues that are both international and in Senegal! Also, I’ve found patience and confidence to deal with daily trials by incorporating time every morning to pray and meditate for the strength and wisdom to carry out this work.

I’ve described my work in two main parts: Networking and Observation/fieldwork.


Developing a fair trade network in Senegal is a collaborative project that involves; Universities to help carry out research, NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) that can contribute funding and help design strategy, and the Government (both local and national) to facilitate development. So it follows that a large part of my job is to connect with several people that have expressed an interest in partnering with Earth Rights Institute to develop the Beyond Fair Trade project. Until I arrived the project was just a proposal, but now that I’m here its time to mobilize all the interested parties and find out who is really serious about being involved and what they have to offer.

It’s been a little slow going so far. In some ways, that's just a characteristic of Africa (as compared to the US). I’ve been able to meet with several people that work for SEM fund (Senegal Ecovillage Microfinance fund) and Earth Rights Eco Village, but it’s been more difficult to coordinate meetings with others. I’ve learned that emails are seldom answered in less than a week over here, and being “on time” to a meeting means arriving less than two hours after the scheduled time. As far as the emails are concerned, part of the problem is the unreliable Internet connections and electricity outages. In fact, for the whole first week that people were back from the holidays, there was no Internet at the office because someone forgot to pay the bill.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that there exist many complex relationships between NGO’s here. Organizations have to work hard to get funding and sometimes that means making a partnership, but sometimes it means temporarily breaking partnerships and sometimes it even means shutting down a program completely for a few months or years. Before coming to Senegal I became very familiar with the websites of organizations that we would be working with to find out what programs were already in place and how we could join forces to tackle the problems together! I realize now that this was quite naïve, and while I still believe that partnerships are essential in development, I’m finding that its not as easy or as obvious as it seems when you’re looking at it from a webpage (duh Kayla). Websites are often outdated and don’t really convey the actualities on the ground. But hey, that’s why I came to Senegal, so that I could see the realities of working in the field and address the issues directly. It also helps that my international counterparts on the project have been very receptive to my observations and we’ve been able to move forward given the more recent information I’ve gathered by being here.

Observation and fieldwork:

The second part of my internship here has been to learn about fair trade through observation and involvement with an actual local businesswoman that has her own line of natural (organic) beauty products called Bioessence Laboratories Inc. Mame Khary has made it her mission to simultaneously create top of the line beauty cosmetics while ensuring that all of her producers (associations of women from various villages in Senegal) are benefiting from their business. This means equipping the groups with materials they need for harvesting, and buying Shea nuts and Baobob oil at about 4 times the local market value. I will be working with her to gain accredited organic and fair-trade certifications so that her products can be recognized as such and sold at a higher value internationally. I will also be gaining invaluable knowledge about the needs and difficulties of a small enterprise in Senegal, which will in turn give me insight into what sort of issues need to be addressed through the Beyond Fair Trade framework. Check out to find out more about her products.

As part of this internship I will be spending all of next week (Jan 16-22) in the region of Kédougou (a town in the south of Senegal) to work with one of the groups of women selling Shea nuts to Bioessence. It is Shea nut harvesting season and I’ll be assessing the women’s requests and helping to obtain data for the organic and fair-trade certification.

As an added bonus: Kédougou happens to be a beautiful area of Senegal with forests of Baobob trees, grassy plains, wildlife and waterfalls! I’m sure my next post will be filled with pictures. This is just a preview.