Tech and agribusiness matchmaking in Senegal’s cashew sector
ITC’s Alliances for Action agribusiness team went to Dakar, Senegal, to link tech and agri businesses in a bid to scale up and mainstream agribusiness operations in the country’s cashew sector.
Cashew nuts are enjoying increasing popularity around the globe. Global production more than doubled between 2000 and 2018. In Africa, it increased by 63%. West Africa is responsible for a large share of African cashew production, and countries are looking to leverage this.
In Senegal, under the Netherlands Trust Fund V programme, ITC’s Alliances for Action is working with small and medium-sized processors of cashews and other crops to help them improve their operations. This helps them generate better profits, improve incomes, and create more jobs.
Activities focus on market research, product development, sustainable processing, packaging, marketing, and developing targeted commercial linkages. To ensure a holistic upgrading of operations, another crucial tool being deployed is the integration of tech tools and platforms into business operations.
A match “made in Senegal”
This week, three tech companies based in Dakar presented tech solutions to processing enterprises from Senegal’s cashew sector at a matchmaking event. The tech startups and the processing companies were identified and selected through the NTFV programme.
ITC partnered with Bopinc, a company that facilitates the matching and integration of tech solutions into agribusinesses in developing countries. They assessed the businesses’ digital needs and matched them to a service provider who could help them grow sustainably.
Itech Afrique, Baamtu and By Filling presented solutions to 11 agribusinesses on how they could odernize and upgrade their commercial operations. The agri-processing businesses asked questions and evaluated which tech company best suited their needs, and whether the potential return on investment is worth it.
They asked about language options, differentiating for wholesale and retail clients, and possible offline use the applications offline. They also wanted to know if the solutions would meet international quality standards and certifications, and the relevance of looking at social media and marketing before establishing a clear business strategy.
The agribusinesses want tech solutions that can improve their competitiveness, especially among local consumers in Dakar, where buyers increasingly look for “made in a Senegal” products.
Moulaye Biaye co-founded cashew juice maker Casadeliz. He is intent on creating some noise around a new product in the local market, before looking at expansion. He was most interested in the tech solution that focused on marketing as a stepping stone towards his goals.
‘During the matchmaking session, I made some great discoveries about tech solutions for business management, product traceability and sales growth support that I wasn’t aware of,’ he said. ‘I’m keeping them in mind for further down the line once we’ve created a solid market demand for our products and gained some momentum. The digital marketing proposition is what best suits our needs at this stage.’
Bopinc shortlisted four enterprises to pursue tech matches with. The best match will be selected for the pilot. NTF V will support this new partnership for one year on a co-investment basis, to make it sustainable beyond the time scope of the project.
This same approach is being implemented under NTF V for coffee in Ethiopia and cocoa in Ghana. In one year, an evaluation of the matches and their results will tell whether the approach was a successful one.
About the project
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and drive the internationalisation of tech start-ups and export of IT&BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.