My business has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, due to the restrictions placed on travels. The economic impact on my activity is severe. Once my savings are gone, I will not have any other sources of income to feed my family, let alone to repay my business loan.
Assy is a restaurant owner in Manda, a small town in the region of Tambacounda, Southeast of the Senegalese capital Dakar. Manda is located at the crossroad of two main routes leading to the Southern part of Senegal that wraps around The Gambia, and the neighbouring Guinea-Bissau. Due to this strategic location her restaurant would normally see a steady influx of customers who stop over for refreshment. In January 2020, ENERGIA partner Energy 4 Impact helped Assy acquire a solar freezer, so she could refrigerate drinks and foods and increase her offer.
Since the Senegalese government introduced restrictions of movement and imposed an inter-city travel ban due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Assy’s customers have disappeared. Her restaurant was also catering for customers who attend a large weekly market, but that has also been banned. Assy’s only source of income at the moment is to sell food and drinks to a small trickle of customers in Manda.
This has left the family without a sufficient source of income to bear the monthly expenses. Assy is the only provider because her husband is too old to work. They have eight children. Just before the COVID-19 measures, she had acquired a large sack of millet to make frozen Thiakry (a West African desert made of millet, curd and sugar) to sell to her customers but since her customers have disappeared she is now using the millet to prepare two meals a day for her family, as long as it lasts.
Before the coronavirus crisis, she saw a turnover of around 235,000 Francs (USD 388) with a profit of around 45,000 Francs (USD 74) after deduction of all charges and credit repayments. Now that income has nearly all disappeared. Neither national governments nor local authorities are providing any financial support to women like Assy. The government and the civil societies are looking at options but lack funds, so help from them isn’t going to come any time soon.
Meanwhile, Energy 4 Impact has contacted the company that provided the freezer on credit, to make them aware of Assy’s difficulties in honouring her next repayment. The supplier is very understanding of the situation and has agreed to delay the deadline.
At the same time, the Senegalese Central Bank has authorised Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to grant their customers (companies) affected by the COVID-19 restrictions and upon request, an extension of deadlines for loans over a period of 3 months renewable once, without interest charge, fees or late penalties. Energy 4 Impact supports Assy in her request for such extension.
This impact story was created in collaboration with our partner, Energy 4 Impact.