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Rain or shine, 70-year-old Seydou Baldé has been making the same “lait caillé,” the local name for yogurt, since 2003. Mr. Baldé own Jawdi Dairy in Kolda, in southern Senegal.
On one morning, a milk supplier arrives on his shiny motorcycle to sell the milk from his cows. He can count on a warm welcome from Mr. Baldé, who knows the importance of keeping good relations with sellers. As a former shopkeeper, he developed some expertise in business relations before launching his milk business.
In this region, milk accompanies many meals and is viewed as a drink that promote children’s growth. But processing milk into yoghurt is less common. Mr. Baldé got the idea from Fulani friends, who shared the recipe.
In the beginning, the business produced 20 litres of milk a day. Four years later, Jawdi dairy has increased production and acquired a motorcycle to distribute its delicious product across the “dairy belt” of Kolda region.
Mr. Baldé uses a big artisanal oven to process the milk into yogurt. The last step is to package it in bags printed with the Jawdi logo. It costs Mr. Baldé 800,000 FCFA ($1,340 US) to produce 250 kilograms.
One challenge is that there are no packaging plants outside of Dakar. So Mr. Baldé is trying to convince the minister of the environment to invest in a packaging factory in Kolda region.
Mr. Balde’s son Mamadou supports him in production, delivery, and distribution. Mamadou is the jack-of-all-trades. Each day he wakes up at dawn to deliver yogurt to 60 locations, including stores in the city, hospitals, banks, a downtown hotel, and several families.
For the past five years, he has been inspired by his father to maintain good business relations with their clients, despite challenges. He says: “As a son, I like to have a challenge to overcome. Sometimes I have to deal with diverse clientele, individuals who sometimes try to scam us. I have to show diplomacy towards clients who don’t always have money. We give them credit—after all, we must be modern.”
Another ally in the Jawdi business is daughter Sadio Baldé, who is in charge of inventory. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in 2015, she decided to join the family dairy. She realized that the operations required tighter management. She explains: “There was too much sloppiness and loss of milk. There were no financial management [systems] in place to pay livestock keepers according to the volume of milk, so I put in place detailed records of quantities that each farmer must fill each month. The numbers must agree with what I have put in my account book.” Thanks to this system, there are no longer deficits of 400,000 FCFA ($670 US) each month.
Sadio considers it important to help spread the news about how milk can contribute to a better quality of life. Milk bring benefits to children’s health and growth because it is rich in calcium and vitamin D. She is proud to be associated with the Jawdi brand and advocate for nutrition security through milk.
With monthly revenues of nearly two million FCFA ($3,360 US), the Jawdi dairy is looking to new horizons: producing cheese and maybe even having its own space to raise cattle. And Mr. Baldé’s son is dreaming even bigger, thinking of exporting products across the region, to Dakar and even to Guinea-Bissau.