Entrepreneur builds locally-made baby food brand in Senegal


Talia Maiga, 14 months, taking in Le Lionceau banana-bouye puree. Photo by Abdoul Maiga

* This write-up was to start with revealed by the IFC. Perspective the authentic.

By Abdoul Maiga

Previous summer time, my spouse Sarah and I had been preparing to go from France to Senegal for my new work as a communications officer for IFC. We had a whole lot to consider about, with some of our issues revolving close to our then-seven-month-aged baby daughter, Talia, such as what we’d feed her in Dakar.

In France, we well prepared Talia’s food with new natural and organic products to make absolutely sure she was feeding on nutritious foods without additives. But understanding we’d have a million matters to do after arriving in Senegal – and no time to make Talia’s food items – we questioned what we’d locate on the supermarket cabinets in our new country.

Sarah turned to her social networks on line to understand far more about well being and toddler nourishment manufacturers in Senegal. She quickly found out an organic Senegalese infant food items named Le Lionceau, or Lion Cub, which mom and dad had been praising for staying each natural and healthy.

Shortly right after we arrived in Dakar very last August, we went to the grocery store and observed Le Lionceau and its quite a few varieties: millet, fonio (a type of grain), sweet potato, moringa (a form of plant), ditakh (a sort of wild fruit), bouye (baobab fruit), solom (a kind of tamarind), papaya, mango, and niebe (black-eyed pea).

Le Lionceau’s screen of toddler meals at a supermarket in Dakar, Senegal. Picture by Le Lionceau

These had been rather exotic flavours when compared to Talia’s normal fare of spinach, leeks, and broccoli, and we questioned if she would like them. When we spooned some into her mouth, we before long had the verdict: A robust yes for these West African flavours!

We were relieved – and delighted – to have learned a West African model that was utilizing local foods to make quality products and solutions for neighborhood intake.

The additional jars we acquired, the much more curious I grew about the corporation. I wished to know why and how the enterprise commenced. What was the solution of its achievement? And could this company help inspire other small organizations in Senegal to harness the treasures of community agriculture?

A neighborhood aim

This last problem was especially critical for me. In far as well several situations, West African raw elements – irrespective of whether mined or developed – are transported out of the location and refined somewhere else. In point, much less than 30% of Senegal’s agricultural solutions are processed regionally. In 2019, Senegal imported virtually $770 million worthy of of customer-oriented foods, generally from the Europe and Asia. Imports represent close to 70% of Senegal’s food stuff requires.

So I reached out to Siny Samba, a 30-calendar year-previous Senegalese native and co-founder and CEO of Le Lionceau, to learn more about her job in bucking this import trend. She told me she’d always been passionate about generating food. Previously in her career, she experienced labored in France as an R&D engineer at Bledina, the newborn food branch of French foodstuff multinational Danone.

Siny Samba, co-founder and CEO of Le Lionceau, in Dakar, Senegal. Photograph by Le Lionceau

One particular day, she had a daily life-shifting plan.

“When I came back again to Senegal on getaway, I observed that 100% of the infant foodstuff in the outlets was imported, even even though we have extremely rich methods in phrases of diet,” she explained. “I felt that we ended up lacking out on an possibility.”

She considered that neighborhood fruits and grains could be processed in Senegal – for the profit of babies as well as for area farmers. A several months afterwards, Le Lionceau was born.

In 2018, she started the organization with Rémi Filastò, a classmate from agricultural engineering university, with funding and support from Women Financial commitment Club (WIC), Hub Impact Dakar, and more just lately Investisseurs et Partenaires. Currently, their business employs 20 persons, and presents 15 versions of organic and natural infant puree, compotes, biscuits, and cereals. All are wholesome and assistance community agriculture value chains.

Le Lionceau’s employees labelling puree jars in Dakar, Senegal. Picture courtesy by Le Lionceau

The firm, which has quadrupled its sales in the previous 3 several years, is scheduling to expand into Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Mali (my household place). Le Lionceau also hopes to feed African diaspora infants abroad as a result of a pilot partnership with on the net vendors Amazon and C-Low cost.

Partnering with farmers

Le Lionceau is still component of a quite smaller team of food items producers in Senegal. One research in 2015 – the newest out there – found that Senegal’s foodstuff processing field is made up of about 15,000 enterprises that manufacture food items solutions, but practically 97% constitute generally smaller-scale, informal operations. At the time, only about 20 providers were jogging huge-scale operations using modern-day meals manufacturing.

For Le Lionceau, expansion will consist of launching a significant-conclude processing device this year to enhance creation.

Investigating and finding out all of this – an effort sparked by a uncomplicated dilemma about my daughter’s food items – was inspiring. I hope Le Lionceau conjures up other Senegalese business people to go after their desires. As for Siny Samba, she credits her accomplishment to strong specialized expertise, tough work, and enthusiasm.

She also believes in the relevance of strengthening the capability of nearby farmers and functioning carefully with them towards shared aims. This includes educating them sustainable farming approaches to make natural items and partnering with women’s cooperatives to work on uncooked products pre-processing.

“The additional you assist build their capacities, the additional successful their yields are, and far more marketplaces can be produced. Every person wins,” mentioned Samba.

Abdoul Maiga in Dakar, Senegal. Picture by Sarah Maiga

Our daughter Talia is now 14 months previous. She is consuming additional solid foods, but we keep on to acquire Le Lionceau products, which she nevertheless enjoys.

We adore it, much too – the foodstuff has come to be a wonderful part of our move to West Africa.

Abdoul Maiga is an IFC communications officer for West and Central Africa in Dakar, Senegal.

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