Senegalese fish business ready for success after CBI project
In 2019, CBI selected 5 Senegalese companies to take part in the Fish and Seafood Senegal project. This project provides companies with online courses and business advice on how to enter the European market. One of the companies taking part is Dakar Poisson, a Senegal-based company that processes and sells fish. Dinding Fall is the sales manager at Dakar Poisson. “In 2019, CBI reached out to us and visited our company,” she says. “I am very grateful that they helped us take our company to the next level.”
A great opportunity
“We selected Dakar Poisson because it had the financial and technical potential to grow as a company,” says John van Herwijnen, project officer at CBI. “The team was very motivated, so we helped them and put them in contact with European importers.” Dinding confirms, “CBI selected us as one of the few companies to take part in the project. I joined online courses via Zoom or Skype. The lessons were full of interaction. We did several exercises and had feedback rounds with the other entrepreneurs. We also received all the information in document form, along with recordings of the sessions to refresh our memories.”
Reaching a new target group
“An issue we faced was distinguishing our product,” Dinding continues. “We sell an African product, so it is more appealing to people familiar with it. This meant we had to present our product differently to enter the European market. Together with CBI, we went through the entire process, from marketing to health and safety. CBI helped us increase the value of our product and make it accessible to a new target group. For example, the CBI team insisted we have a website to make our product more accessible and visible. When people hear about you, the first thing they do is check the internet. So, the team connected us to a photographer who took pictures at our factory so we could use them for our website.”
Adapting the product for the EU
“We are now working on adapting our product for the European market,” says Dinding. “What helps is that we do not have many competitors. But, we are seeing a few companies start to follow our lead. And we want to stand out! We do not just want to provide fish. We want to provide restaurant-quality fish for home cooking. We are currently expanding our production process, changing it and testing the product on the local market. Later on, we will get ready to enter the European market. One of the good things about expanding is the jobs we are providing in Dakar (the capital) and Mbour (at the factory).”
A woman in a man’s world
“Every society has its realities,” Dinding concludes. “The fish sector was a man’s world. As a woman, it was not always easy at the beginning. Also, within our culture, older people find it quite difficult to take orders from a younger person. But, things are changing, and women have many senior positions in fish businesses. Even our director is a woman!”
No new CBI fish and seafood projects
CBI has decided not to start any new projects in the fish and seafood sector. But projects that are already in progress will be completed as planned.
This decision is due to the sustainability challenges within the fishery sector. Most challenges start at the primary production level. This is difficult to influence using the existing CBI instruments. CBI sees opportunities for change within the aquaculture sector. But, only a few countries CBI supports have a developed aquaculture sector. Also, the aquaculture sector focuses on local markets. So, export is often at the expense of food security. We will keep monitoring these developments.