In Ousmane’s family, farming is more than a job. It is a passion that has been passed on from father to son. Although the young man now enjoys cultivating his market garden, his life path has not been a smooth one.
Like many young people from Tambacounda, a region in eastern Senegal, Ousmane hoped for better living conditions in Europe.
“At that time, it was hard to make ends meet. And it was during those times that some of my friends who were in Spain were pushing me to come by sending me beautiful photos and videos. All I could think about then was leaving my village and starting a new life in Europe,” says the young man.
Ousmane left his country and went to Morocco to attempt to cross the Mediterranean. After a year of unsuccessful attempts, it is with a heavy heart that Ousmane decides to return home. After contacting the International Organization for Migration (IOM), he was granted support through the “EU-IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme.”
Upon his return, it was natural for him to start up his farming activities again, which he had abandoned a few months earlier: rainy season farming and market gardening. “I had to stand up and prove to my family and friends that I was capable of bouncing back after this failure,” says Ousmane.
Gradually, the young man managed to develop his business. Being particularly ambitious, Ousmane wanted to build up his capacities in agricultural and agri-food techniques through a training. So, with IOM’s support, he took part in several training courses. He improved his knowledge of pesticide management, hygiene, and traceability of his products. He also developed new knowledge in the production, processing, and production of agricultural forest products. These skills opened the doors to EXPERNA (Entente Inter Villageoise pour l’Exploitation des Ressources Naturelle et Agricole), which he joined as a trainee. There, he improved his practical knowledge.
Thanks to his commitment and satisfactory results of his micro-business, Ousmane was selected to benefit from the project “Consolidation of achievements in reintegration of returnees to Senegal” funded by the Czech Republic and implemented by IOM in Tambacounda since February 2022. He again participated in technical training in agri-food and received support for the incubation of his project. Ousmane also took the opportunity to develop his address book through networking activities.
The young man’s dedication bore fruit. In March 2022, Ousmane was invited to participate in a job fair in Agadez organized by IOM Niger. The event enabled him to make contacts with potential clients and suppliers. A few months later, in November 2022, Ousmane took part in the Green Employment Fair organized in Tambacounda by IOM. These two events reinforced his desire to become a successful agricultural entrepreneur in the Tambacounda region.
“It was a great opportunity for me to take part in these fairs which would certainly contribute to shaping the person I am today. My eyes were wide open, and I realized that I got a second chance to make my projects thrive,” Ousmane proudly concluded.
The young man set himself a new challenge: to be a success story and encourage young people to become entrepreneurs in their country and thus boost the local economy.