Natural Healing in Dakar

Mme. Traore

Living in a developing country presents many challenges that Westerners have long forgotten about. Over the counter healthcare products, for example, are something that most can purchase at a whim. In Dakar, Senegal things are not so easy. Madame Aissatou Traore is trying to provide some relief for those in need of such healthcare products. By partnering with Arizona based Forever Living Products, Aissatou is able to distribute their health products in Parcelles, a neighborhood of Dakar. Sam Gant, our Client Relationship Intern, had a chance to meet with Mme. Traore recently. You can read about their meeting in Sam’s own words below:

Dear Lenders,

My name is Sam Gant and I’m one of the Client Relationship Managers here in Senegal. On Thursday June 7th I had the opportunity to meet with Aissatou in her home in Parcelles, where she showed me both the aloe vera plans that she grows in her courtyard and the astounding variety of aloe vera refined products she sells–through her company she has access to more than 300 products. Mme Traore believes strongly in the value of natural supplements as preventative management, and explained how a variety of dietary supplements and ointments could serve to keep her clients healthy. Aissatou is a model vendor for FOREVER products– she has used aloe products to help her mother through a bout of illness, and with her profits from sales she recently moved to a larger apartment. 

She is a very capable and canny businesswoman who is willing to put in long hours of travel to succeed in the entrepreneurial field. She recently made a14 hour long day trip 50 kilometers outside of Dakar to spread her products, and keeps meticulous notes of all of her clients to keep them stocked with their chosen supplements. 

Mme Traore is very grateful to her lenders for supporting her, and works hard to overcome any setbacks she encounters. 

Turning Zidisha Loans into Medical Supplies

Client Relationship volunteer Maguette recently met up with Combé Thiaw in Senegal. Her business entails buying medical supplies to sell to clinics and hospitals around Dakar. Here is an update about her:

Combé is ethnically Diolla, one of the well-known ethnic groups in Senegal. She is originally from the southern part of Senegal, called the Casamance. She is 32 years old. She is single and the mother of a 5-year-old boy who is in kindergarten. Combé works in the administrative section of the Chifa Clinic in Sacré Coeur 1 [a neighborhood in Dakar] where she works as a management assistant (issuing invoices, photocopying, etc). The clinic is relatively young and opened in 2010.

She sells medical equipment to medical offices, hospitals and other clinics. These supplies include IV drips, syringes, urine bags, probes, sutures, compresses, and more, pretty much everything that hospitals use. In this cold season, clinics are not very active. In fact, hospitals are busiest during the rainy season because malaria cases are prevalent.

She has a stock of two million products and has the advantage that the medical supplies are not perishable. She does not have time constraints regarding her clinic work because she is not under a contact. She is not paid a salary at the clinic because she works there just to help some old friends. She sells for orders 30 days after delivery, but in many cases, it is 60 to 90 days after delivery. This is because the clinics work with the IPM. Her main clients are: Blue Cross Clinic, Rady Clinic, Madeleine Clinic, and the Clinic of Mamelles. The supplier is Delta Medical. She regulates the cash of suppliers, and that is why the gaps in cash flow are often felt.

The loan from Zidisha has had a positive impact on Combé’s financial situation. It has indeed allowed her to better meet her daily expenses like paying rent, paying the housekeeper, transportation (taxi or public transportation), her son’s education and other small personal expenses. The monthly profit from her business is 400,000 to 500,000 CFA [about 800 to 1000 US dollars]. After having deducted her expenses from her earnings, she buys goods which she keeps in her apartment’s stockroom. Her house also has two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

Combé holds a license (Bac + 3) as an executive assistant. However, she has repeatedly refused a salary of more than 200,000 [working as an assistant] because according to her, her small business is more interesting than the salary of an executive assistant.

She hopes to continue her collaboration with Zidisha because she finds that the loans are very accessible. According to her, “Zidisha is exceptional”. 

To read more posts from interns about this entrepreneur, or to hear from Combé herself, check out her Zidisha page.