Congo-Brazzaville: Yvonne Nsayi: a rural entrepreneur who inspires her community (By Privat Tiburce Martin Massanga, for Farm Radio Weekly in Congo-Brazzaville)

| March 5, 2012

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Thirty-five-year-old Yvonne Nsayi is no ordinary woman. She is a mother of four, a farmer, a donut seller, and the promoter of a local bakery. All in all, she plays an important role in the economic life of her community.

Ms. Nsayi lives in the village of Mangoungou, 100 kilometres north of Brazzaville. Nothing in her early life could have predicted the young woman’s success. She left middle school after she became pregnant. Then she got married. However, Vonvon, as she is affectionately known to villagers, was determined to earn her own income.

She says, “I adjusted badly to being dependent on my husband. I needed to find a lucrative business for my own fulfillment.” As a first step, she asked traditional leaders to grant her a piece of land to start a cassava plantation.

Now, ten years later, Ms. Nsayi manages large fields of cassava and peanuts. She employs day labourers to help her work the fields.

Because the village is isolated, it is difficult for local people to access certain goods, such as fresh bread. On realizing this, Ms. Nsayi decided to broaden her activities. She re-opened a bakery that had been closed for ages.

Before Ms. Nsayi re-opened the bakery, villagers ate bread that had travelled from Brazzaville. Ms. Nsayi explains, “We were obliged to eat bread that was hard and dry after several days of travel. There is a gentleman who left an oven here in Mangoungou, and I was determined to revive our bakery.”

Ms. Nsayi buys all the ingredients for making bread. She pays the village baker, Massouakou Emery, to bake bread. He receives 5,000 CFA francs, about $10 US dollars, for each sack of flour he uses.   The small business found a ready market and is running smoothly. After deducting production costs, Ms. Nsayi makes a profit every week of more than 50,000 CFA, or more than $100 U.S.

As if all these activities were not enough, each early morning, Ms. Nsayi makes donuts. She sells the donuts along with warm, fresh bread. Local farmers buy the baked goods before leaving to work in the fields.

In view of her success, Ms. Nsayi wants to help other women in her village. She plans to organize the women to create a mutual support network. She is convinced that the main problems in her area are the lack of proper roads and means to transport goods.  Through the support network, the women would pool their money to rent a truck to get their goods to the big markets.

The baker, Mr. Emery, is enthusiastic about Ms. Nsayi. He says, “{She] has rekindled the flame of my passion for making bread … She inspires other women in the village. She is a leader of men and women.”