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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

My Experience As A Volunteer in Senegal

National volunteer, Ismaila Mane shares their experience as a Farmer-to-Farmer in Senegal

Ismaila Mane

What was the best part about contributing to Farmer-to-Farmer as a national volunteer in your country/region ?

The best part of my contribution with Farmer-to-Farmer as a local volunteer in my country is the capacity building of the teachers of the vocational Training Center of Nioro du Rip in business marketing. It was interesting for me to be able to help the center to effectively manage their commercial and income generating activities in order to be able to face the budget deficit.

The government of Senegal has decided to make training centers responsible for generating income in order to manage their internal operations. And participating in this training gave me the opportunity to contribute my part in the implementation of this policy.

What was the best part about working with a remote US based volunteer ?

The remote work with the American volunteer (Michelle LaPrise) has greatly contributed to the improvement of the documents produced during the assignment, especially on the development of the business plan model and the questions that the promoter must ask himself on each part that composes the business plan.

I am in charge of following up with micro enterprises in my Zone of Influence and this collaboration with Michelle allowed me to grasp and appropriate other knowledge in the field of business and entrepreneurship. Michelle’s flexibility and willingness to assist was helpful and she has spared no effort in providing information despite the time differences. This further motivated me to provide the training from start to finish and to continue to work with the producers in my area to help them as much as I could without any setbacks.

What did you learn/were there any cultural exchanges?

I learned a lot about the assignment, especially about the financial indicators part of the business plan, the insertion model of the center and marketing techniques. There is a diversity of people within the center from all over Senegal. I met and exchanged with my Diola (one of the ethnic groups in Senegal) relatives and my Serer (another ethnic group)”workers” with whom I teased by taking examples from them during the training. This made the training much easier and with great fun. I was able to understand that this cousinhood is practiced everywhere in Senegal and contributes greatly to the social peace of the country. This mission also allowed me to discover another part of the country with different cultural features.

What lasting impact did this have on you?

This assignment allowed me to reinforce my knowledge on marketing techniques and business plan elaboration. It has allowed me today to reinforce my knowledge on business marketing. There is a lot of materials and information that will be useful to me in my activities with the producers that I supervise. I will definitely become another type of trainer in the future.

What advice would you give or what would you want to tell someone else who is interested in volunteering nationally?

This program allows us not only to develop our skills but also to share our experiences with the beneficiaries for the development of this country. It is a very interesting program. In addition, it allows us to contribute to the capacity building of learners, youth and women in different areas of the country, in order to contribute to sustainable development at the local level.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I chose to volunteer in the Farmer-to-Farmer program because I am driven by the spirit of sharing and the constant quest for experience and knowledge. Since I am also a microenterprise consultant, I felt it necessary to give my time and in return gain experience for my future career.