Group in green tops with masks over mouths

Social investment

Targeted social investment is a big part of our activity in Senegal in keeping with our wider Group strategy to deliver value for all stakeholders. We seek to make a positive social impact in every area that we work.

Our Group Corporate Social Responsibility Policy states that Cairn ‘will assist in the development of local community programmes where it operates, in consultation with local government, the public and stakeholders’. As part of this we have developed a social investment plan specific to Senegal that supports the four areas the business has identified for social investments across the Group: enterprise development; education and training; environment, health and well-being; and charitable giving and humanitarian aid.  

As well as providing English language and oil and gas awareness training, we have also supported the following community projects:

  • the British Council’s Great Entrepreneur project: a competition for local projects with training and coaching for the winner;
  • ECOBAG: a local business that collects plastic waste and recycles it into plastic pellets for onward sale; and
  • The Hunger Project: a women-led microfinance project.

During 2016, our social investment expenditure in Senegal amounted to US$137,839.

Supporting local entrepreneurship – Great Entrepreneur competition

In 2015, we supported a project sponsored by the British Council called the Great Entrepreneur competition with a contribution of US$30,000 which went towards the 2016 competition. This competition selects a shortlist of projects in Senegal whose sponsors are then given a range of training and coaching opportunities to build their business. From these an eventual winner is chosen. The aim of the competition is to promote opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Senegal and develop their skills to progress their ideas. This is in line with some of the attributes we look to promote among our own workforce, with one of the behaviours we require our staff to display being ‘Be Entrepreneurial’.

In 2016, the winner of the competition was Marieme Mbaye from Greenwash Africa who was awarded 10 million francs (c. US$14,000). Marieme co-founded Greenwash Africa, an ecofriendly carwash that uses no water, only biodegradable products, and that also cleans home furnishings. The aim of the business is to reduce water consumption and improve environmental awareness in Africa, as well as help street carwashers, thereby contributing to job creation. The goal is to grow the business to offer a service in other African countries, including Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. Since winning the Great Entrepreneur competition, Greenwash has increased its number of clients significantly due to the publicity it has received. 

Supporting local business – ECOBAG

Cairn first became involved in the Great Entrepreneur competition through its support of the ECOBAG project, which won the Great Entrepreneur competition in 2014. ECOBAG collects plastic waste from neighbourhoods and recycles it into plastic pellets to sell on to producers of plastic products. The project promotes waste recycling and a community refuse collection system. Cairn committed to support ECOBAG in 2015 up to the value of $25,000. Cairn’s funding contributed to the purchase of machines to wash and crush the plastic waste in 2016. With our support, the founder of ECOBAG, Amy Mbengue, has succeeded in growing the business, increasing plastic pellet production from 1 to 3 tonnes per month and from employing five workers to taking on an additional 15 workers, 80% of whom are female.  

Amy Mbengue, founder of ECOBAG

"I started ECOBAG at the end of 2014 with the aim of tackling the environmental problems facing Senegal, especially those caused by plastic. ECOBAG’s objective is to develop a circular waste economy and to fight against youth unemployment. Cairn was a critical financial and nonfinancial support for ECOBAG helping me to build the business through the acquisition of new equipment.

I came up with the idea of ECOBAG in 2011. We were able to start the business almost four years later despite the many difficulties along the way. It was a big challenge for me. Today I feel a great sense of pride when I see my dream come true, even if there is still so much more I want to achieve with ECOBAG. My parents and my family feel great pride also.

The workers I employ have a job that allows them to take charge of themselves and which especially allows the empowerment of women.

My goal is to extend ECOBAG at a national, regional and international level but also to start the second phase of development."

Helping women in rural communities – The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project (THP) is a global, non-profit, organisation committed to ending hunger and poverty with sustainable, women-led solutions. We have supported THP in Senegal since 2015. 

Senegal was the first country of intervention for THP in Africa which has been working there since 1991. In Africa, The Hunger Project works to build sustainable community-based programmes through Epicentres which are community buildings around which communities can organise and provide central services.

The epicentre brings together clusters of rural villages, giving villagers more influence with local government than a single village and increasing a community’s ability to collectively utilise resources and access basic services. In Senegal, THP has been working with 10 epicentres that cumulatively serve a population of over 183,000 people from more than 200 villages.

Part of our support for THP goes towards its women-led microfinance programme that includes financial management training for the whole community, training facilitators, rural bank lenders and technical staff. The programme provides savings facilities and microloans for income-generating activities based around small-scale trading and farming.

With the funding received from Cairn of US$55,300, THP has been able to run its microfinance programme (incorporating funding and capacity building) in all the Senegal epicentres. The focus is to develop the microloans programme into a genuinely member-owned and operated initiative, recognised by the government or regulatory body as a financial cooperative. THP’s aim is to enable the rural epicentres to become self-reliant, and in 2016 one of the 10 epicentres in Senegal reached self-reliance. Cairn has committed to support THP in 2017 to assist further progress towards self-reliance for the remaining nine epicentres.

The Hunger Project

Madame Bolo Sow, Namarel Epicentre, Senegal

"I first became involved in the Namarel epicentre in 2012. With the advice of the manager of the rural bank of Namarel, I took out my first loan in order to generate income. I bought four sheep and after nine months of livestock farming I sold them at a profit. During the period I succeeded in paying off my credit and saving my profit before taking out a new loan. I continue to be involved in livestock activity but I am also now involved in trading detergent products in the villages and surrounding settlements, and with a new loan I have started to sell women’s shoes ordered from Dakar. The Hunger Project is an organisation which really helps women, empowering them to take charge of their own affairs and giving them access to credit in isolated areas where there are no financial institutions."

“The workers I employ have a job that allows them to take charge of themselves which especially allows the empowerment of women.”

Amy MbengueFounder of ECOBAG

“In Senegal, THP have been working with 10 epicentres that cumulatively serve a population of over 178,000 people and over 200 villages.”

“With the advice of the manager of the rural bank of Namarel I took out my first loan in order to generate income.”

Madame Bolo SowNamarel Epicentre, Senegal

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