Stories
02 Aug 2022
By: Kim Winkler

Driving down the national road from Conakry, Guinea’s capital, for a few hours southwards, a large signpost on the right-hand side will lead us down a small road to Mamadou Diallo’s Bakery. This afternoon, owner Mamadou is enjoying the calm of the lunch break to prepare the bread dough in the bakery before the customers start to rush in again. For the 23-year-old, baking is a family affair; it was his father who taught him the art of making bread.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. In 2013, his father passed away, and from this moment on, his grandmother took care of Mamadou and his brother and three sisters. His mother left for Senegal in 2012 to join his other brother.

In late 2017, when Mamadou was in year 11, he left school and went to Libya to alleviate the pressure on his grandmother: “She was tired and couldn’t support me. Instead of being another burden to her, I decided to leave.”

Mamadou spent three months in Libya, but he did not find the fortune he had hoped for. When he returned, he borrowed money to buy flour and tools to resume the family trade. He joined his cousin who has a bakery in Maférinya and paid him rent to work there. “It was hard, for everything I did, I took on debts,” Mamadou recalls. 

Mamadou has created two permanent jobs and temporary employment for six potential migrants. His brother Alpha also works in the bakery with him. Photo: IOM 2022/Alpha Ba

Under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection Reintegration, Mamadou received support to buy materials and flour.

“With IOM’s assistance, a lot has changed,” Mamadou says, “now I have nine people backing me; I have been able to support young people!” He has created two permanent jobs and temporary employment for six potential migrants. His brother Alpha also works in the bakery with him.

Today, Mamadou is a partner in his cousin’s business; they share materials, and he is able to make contributions without incurring more debt. “We have evolved in production,” Mamadou explains; for the daily production, the bakers use four to five bags of flour, which is twice as much as the two bags they used to need.

They have not only increased the quantity of bread, but they have also started to offer two different qualities. Mamadou holds up two baguettes, and motions to show that one weighs more than the other. "It’s difficult to make, you need a machine," he says and points out that there are not many in the village.

Mamadou is building a three-bedroom house with enough space for his grandmother and siblings as well as for his wife with their newborn baby. Photo: IOM 2022/Alpha Ba

Due to the success of his project, Mamadou has become independent; he has bought a motorbike and started to diversify his income by setting up a 5,000 square foot pineapple field. Unfortunately, due to lack of experience, this project failed but he is curious to learn more about agriculture.

One day Mamadou would like to build his own bakery but for now he is building a three-bedroom house next to the family home, with a household of seven people to support. There will be enough space for his grandmother and siblings as well as for his wife with their newborn baby, Marieme, who is three weeks old.

For Mamadou, it is an honour to continue his father’s legacy. “Doing what he did makes me proud.”

SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth