SENEGAL – The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) West Africa Trade & Investment Hub has awarded a US$518,000 co-investment grant to La Laiterie du Berger, a company that manufactures dairy products from locally produced milk in Senegal.

The grant will allow the company to source milk from 1,150 new herders and further its efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on imported milk.

In Senegal, nearly 90 percent of marketed milk is imported, typically in the form of powdered milk.

But 30 percent of the Senegalese population are dairy farmers and produce enough fresh milk to meet local consumption needs.

“Our partnership with the Trade Hub will be key toward harnessing local farmers’ existing ability to provide fresh milk beyond their immediate communities, while increasing their earnings and strengthening food security, which is threatened when a staple product such as milk is not primarily bought from local producers,” says Bagoré Bathily, CEO of La Laiterie du Berger.

La Laiterie du Berger is the first Senegal-based company to brand and sell fresh, locally sourced milk in the country.

It’s also the first company in the West African nation to obtain B Corp certification, which recognizes companies that consider the impact of their decisions on workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.

Since its founding in 2007, the company’s sales have grown from US$0.4 million during its first year to $16.5 million in 2020.

However, despite these earnings, it needed further investment to boost its operations and a strong showing of support to secure private-sector capital, which its partnership with the Trade Hub makes possible.

“The success of this activity will allow La Laiterie du Berger to illustrate tangible results to lenders and facilitate obtaining additional lines of credit for future expansion,” says Bathily.

Prior to partnering with the Trade Hub, La Laiterie du Berger lacked the capacity to source from more than its current network of 850 herders.

Through its co-investment funding, it will be able to grow the number of its herders from 850 to 2,000, making it capable of collecting 5,000 metric tons of premium milk over the project’s 2-year term, which ends in November 2023.

The 5,000 metric tons will generate US$4.5 million in sales and increase herders’ collective incomes from US$600,000 to US$2 million during the life of the project.

According to Karl Littlejohn, Acting Chief of Party for the Trade Hub, there is a clear need for investments in companies such as La Laiterie du Berger to professionalize milk production, make it a viable business for herders, and reduce importation.

“We are confident that this USAID-backed partnership will transition herders from traditional and subsistence farming to revenue-oriented farming—and just as important—that it will encourage private sector investment,” he says.

The co-investment partnership will also support the renewal of the company’s B Corp certification, and establish a monitoring and evaluation system capable of capturing the total impact of the company’s socially conscious business practices on the more than 15,000 shop owners it works with.

In addition, the partnership will fund the training of about 1,000 herders in farm management, such as livestock management and animal health. The funding will also allow 155 new jobs to be created at La Laiterie du Berger.

About 80 percent of the roles will be reserved for youth and 15 percent for women.

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