Combating malnutrition through female entrepreneurship
GRET established a production and sales network of ready-to-eat porridge (Laafi Benre) in four vulnerable districts of Ouagadougou. Made from fortified infant flours, this complementary food is made by local production units and sold at affordable prices both by women in permanent market kiosks and through a network of street vendors. These sales activities promote women’s social and economic independence, enabling them to contribute to household revenues.
In the four outlying urban districts of Ouagadougou targeted by this pilot programme (Bissighin, Pazani, Worsi and Pousghin) a sales network run by women entrepreneurs offers the families of children aged between 6 and 24 months Laafi Benre, an affordable, high-quality, ready-to-eat fortified porridge, and also little sachets of fortified infant flours to prepare in the home, produced by 3 local production units.
In one year, 1.5 tonnes of fortified flour was purchased from local businesses and 55,000 meals were sold by the local network, benefiting 1500 infants.
- 12 women porridge-makers and vendors were trained in production techniques (storage conditions, hygiene rules) and marketing;
- 340 women are employed in the 3 fortified flour production units;
- Four market kiosks exclusively selling porridge have been refurbished and their visibility improved;
- The volume of porridge sales has increased by between 10 and 37% per quarter;
- 75 community leaders and local stakeholders have been involved in communications initiatives to make families aware of good nutritional habits to follow for their children;
- 100% of the porridge sold meets the quality and hygiene standards set by international recommendations;
- More than 2000 families in the region know about the infant porridge and flour and have access to it within 500 metres of their home; 60% of them purchase it regularly;
- 2500 mothers and 450 fathers are aware of best practices in infant nutrition, hygiene and health.
There are still some major challenges. Sales are not yet sufficient to ensure the profitability of the activity, which currently receives a 50% subsidy on the purchase price of the flour used for the porridge. Another enriched product aimed at women is also being developed so as to diversify the activity and boost the kiosks’ profits.
“Now I have a place where people can come to me for advice on baby and infant nutrition. My work gives me a reason to get up in the mornings. I know where I’m going and what I have to do there. My family understands and appreciates the work I’m doing to improve health in our communities. When local people see me go by they call me ‘Laafi Benre Yaaba’ – which means ‘the grandmother with the healthy porridge‘ in the Mooré language. I love hearing the children call me that. I’m appreciated – people ask for my advice on how to feed their children properly.”
“This business model has proved highly effective. The women like Sidonie, who are recruited to manage sales and distribution, are genuinely committed – continuing their work even through the rainy season. Sales of the porridge grew strongly during the initial months, reflecting a high level of community engagement and effective communications to raise awareness of the product.”
To know more, see also:
- Grandmothers with healthy porridge fight malnutrition;
- A video animation by GRET;
- The article: Local entrepreneurship to fight malnutrition by GRET;
- Estelle Juré interview (in French) appeared on alimenterre.org and realised by the French Committee for International Solidarity CFSI (Comité Français pour la Solidarité Internationale) in the framework of the programme for the promotion of family agriculture Pafao (Promotion de l’agriculture familiale en Afrique de l’Ouest). Interview by Camille Bureau, edited by Hélène Basquin et Clémence Pinson.