Interview: DID-Senegal's support for inclusive finance in West Africa

Interview: DID-Senegal's support for inclusive finance in West Africa

March 23, 2020

In 2004, DID set up a regional office in Dakar, Senegal, to better serve the countries of West Africa. The Dakar regional office offers the services of a team of national consultants who can provide support in all areas of inclusive finance. DID-Senegal works in collaboration with the main cooperative networks (Nyèsigiso, Kafo Jiginew, RCPB, PAMECAS, FUCEC, FECECAM) and other Decentralized Financial Systems , professional associations as well as the regulatory authorities and supervisory ministries of the microfinance sector.

We invite you to learn more about the reality of our colleagues in Dakar through the testimony of Malick Seye, coordinator of the DID-Senegal office.

Can you tell us about your career path and how you came to join the DID-Senegal project team?

I hold a Master’s degree in Economics, a Master of Finance and Risk Management, as well as an International MBA. After my studies, I joined REMIX as a consultant. I was in charge of supervising microfinance institutions (known as decentralized financial systems in Senegal) in Niayes in terms of accounting and management.

The Projet de Promotion des PME Horticoles (promoting SME horticulture project) run by the Belgian Technical Cooperation (currently called ENABEL) noticed the compelling results I got with these clients, so they hired me to manage credit and mutualization. My mandate was to institutionalize the financing mechanism for horticultural activities, again in Niayes.

I joined DID in September 2004. I’d wanted to expose myself to the international scene to compare my previous experiences with other contexts. At DID, I moved from operations to management. I started as an expert in banking operations, then became team leader in the transfer and national accompaniment for the development of an expertise in microfinance (TANDEM) project, where I was also technical coordinator for the support project for the microfinance sector in West Africa (PRAO). I’ve been in charge of DID’s West Africa regional office based in Dakar since 2018.

What are the daily challenges that you face in carrying out your work?

Besides the usual challenges facing any manager (leading and mobilizing teams to achieving objectives, building the order book), we’re confronted with specific issues such as: having to evolve within the playing field outlined by local policies; adapting methodologies and approaches to each target, each context of operation, the growing diversity of the players who use approaches that aren’t always compatible; and lastly, promoting our cooperative difference when it’s being greatly challenged in our region.

How is it different working at DID?

Working at DID is different on many levels: co-construction is permanent and is reflected in the exchanges between head office, the field and local partners. A smart balance between having to produce results and the right to learn (and, therefore, to make mistakes) is maintained. Deep respect for the policies of the country where it operates is required and lastly, the workplace is friendly, like a big African-style family, as we would say.

What makes you proud to be working at DID?

The feeling of helping to improve people’s living conditions. Actually, by helping their local financial institutions perform better, we give communities a powerful tool to take charge of their own future.

Is there a highlight you’d like to share?

Recently, a senior executive from a major financial institution shared his vision with me. "I want to make my institution the Desjardins of Africa and I’m counting on DID to help me do so," he told me, obviously referring to Desjardins Group’s definite contribution to improving conditions for Quebecers.