The Jjiguene Tech Hub is the first all-girl tech hubs in Dakar. In 2011, the founders of the Center won the WCA Imagine Cup, an international competition aimed at students and sponsored by Microsoft, which recognized ICT solutions able to help reach the Millennium development goals.
by Elisabetta Demartis, Dakar
“The project, called PAGEL (Pêche, Agriculture, Élevage),” said Awa Caba, one of the group founders, “is an online platform to provide infrastructural support to the commercial side of farming and fishing”. An e-commerce portal helps workers and small businesses owner monitor and then set the prices for their products, detect developing markets and gain worldwide visibility. “The project,” the young computer scientist, goes on, “looks like a repository of initiatives as diverse as Soo retul, Yegle, web and SMS platforms. They all share the common goal of protecting the work of farmers and stimulating business for those women producing fruit juices and similar products in rural areas”.
ICT for women and farmers
Soo retul, still under development, will enable female entrepreneurs to gain an online way to expand the number of buyers, usually very low given the limited possibilities for advertising of products to a wider level than locally. On the other hand, Yegle helps Kaolack region manufacturers get pricing information by sending a daily message to hundreds of people with the prices of all products on the market.
By means of such a tool, the Jjiguène Tech Hub girls used technology to build on top of an existing mechanism. In fact, farmers were already enrolled in the SMS service which was then used to send automated messages to all of them. The system is also capable of recording information flows, as well as spot information.
“After a trial period, farmers understood very well the potential embedded in such a platform” Awa Caba muses, “so they felt the need to implement a communication strategy allowing for the tracking of the fertilizer and pesticide distribution processes“. As a matter of fact, these products are often donated by organizations such as IFAD, the State or non-profit institutions, and yet no system logs said donations and certifies that products have been distributed for real, and who they went to. Due to this platform, SMSs are used as reports and all deliveries recorded, making it a transparent process. The platform is also used to let producers have access to the weather forecast so they could better plan their work.