Senegal Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge winner receives scaling investment

One of AICCRA Senegal's Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge grant winners, ACASEN SARL, has received an investment of from WIC Capital and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The financing will be used to strengthen the company's production capacity and support its transition to industrial scale.

Gender inequality has been estimated to cost sub-Saharan Africa an estimated US$95 billion each year in lost revenues. For the most part, these costs are because women in the region do not live or operate under the conditions needed to reach their full economic potential.

In Senegal in particular, women's entrepreneurship represents a vast untapped source of job creation and economic growth, with only 31.3% of Senegalese entrepreneurs being women. They generally operate on a small scale or in the informal economy. This hinders their ability to grow professionally and economically.

AICCRA's Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge, launched in 2022, was created to address some of the financial and infrastructural constraints facing women entrepreneurs in agri-business. 20 women-led firms were chosen from more than 250 applicants to participate in an acceleration program in partnership with the Women's Investment Club (WIC). At the end of the training program, which included teaching on business development, climate-smart agriculture practices and other skills, the entrepreneurs presented their pitches to an expert jury in early 2023. From those pitches, five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were awarded a grant and technical support for their projects.

One of the grant winners was ACASEN SARL, a Senegalese family business operating in the agri-food sector and specializing in the production and marketing of snacks made from cashew nuts, peanuts, potatoes, and infant flour (Jogal Dox). ACASEN sources its raw materials from small-scale producers in Senegal and over 80% of their employees are women.

At the time, CEO Hermione Awounou said:

"The Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge Program has come at the right time. Thanks to this program, multiple opportunites are offered to us. Thanks to the coaching and mentoring we received during the 4 months of training, we are now better structured and well equipped to seek funding. Personally, I've made remarkable progress in marketing and market research, but especially in networking."


In February 2024, WIC Capital has announced a significant scaling investment into ACASEN SARL, made in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - Entrepreneurship & Investment. The financing aims to strengthen the company's production capacity and support its transition to industrial scale. It will be coupled with continued technical support from the WIC Academy.

In the announcement, Ms. Évelyne Dioh, Associate Director of WIC Capital, said:

"We are delighted to support ACASEN in its transition to the scale...At WIC Capital, we are convinced that the development of the agri-food an essential sector for the growth of African economies."

Speaking of AICCRA's Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge, ACASEN CEO Hermione Awounou said:

"We are very grateful because the GSAC program has made our dream come true. The GSAC allowed ACASEN to initiate our scaling process through the capacity building and grant received to better position us to mobilize funds from impact investors.”

Read more in the press release from WIC Capital below (in French).