Business Advising Volunteer

Project Description

The Community Economic Development (CED) project in Senegal was redesigned in 2017, with the goal of ensuring that “household members, especially women and youth, achieve economic security and upward economic mobility.” The project focuses on using the Peace Corps’ approach to development to work with communities to realize their economic development priorities, supporting national economic development goals. As a Business Development Service Agent, you will support local communities to achieve economic security by undertaking roles as a co-trainer, co-facilitator, change agent, mentor, and coach to foster and support entrepreneurial behaviors and the adoption of basic business skills both in youth and women entrepreneurs.

Primarily focusing on small and micro enterprises working in agribusiness and solid waste management, integrating norms of gender equity and positive youth development, you will:

• Support individuals’—especially youth’s and women’s—entrepreneurial potential. You will contribute to the national strategy on entrepreneurship for women and youth that targets improving job opportunities and wealth creation. You will work with local community partners to support business events with local community partners, through co-organizing, co-training, and co-facilitating. Youth clubs are one important activity that CED Volunteers co-lead with local partners to help develop entrepreneurial skills and capacities.
• Engage with individuals’—especially those in women’s groups— to support increased capacity to implement small-scale economic activities. In addition to co-training on basic business skills, in partnership with local and national partners, you’ll support access to technical training in agribusiness and solid waste management as well as to financial services through the co-creation or enhancement of savings and loan groups.
Business needs have evolved in the context of economic recovery following the impact of the pandemic, you will likely support local partners in the development of co-ops, youth employment opportunities, and resilience building with micro and small enterprises.
Information and communication technologies for business (ICT4B) play an increasingly important role for Senegalese micro and small-enterprises, and thus are of increasing importance for Business Development Service Agents.
Peace Corps Senegal includes gender equity and empowerment efforts throughout all of our work and strives to make these efforts more sustainable. As such, you will receive training on gender dynamics in Senegal. During your service, you will work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ and women’s sense of agency.
As an actor in the development of Senegal, and as part of the wider Peace Corps effort to share our story with our counterparts and host governments as well as to bring that story home to the US, you will monitor and report on your work activities throughout your service.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years professional experience in business management

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will demonstrate experience in business planning, project management, and other basic business skills such as networking and information and communication technology. The strongest candidates will have experience working with entrepreneurs, small businesses or school-based entrepreneurial programs, cost analysis, financial planning, inventory control, bookkeeping, and/or marketing

Experience in agribusiness and/or solid waste management is highly desirable.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

The dominant languages in Senegal are Wolof and Pulaar, but there are many other smaller language groups as well. You will receive intensive training in the most common language of the village where you will be based and you will attain a proficiency level in that language by the time you complete your Pre-Service Training. Most of your work will be carried out in a local language.

Peace Corps Senegal does not train in French, preferring to focus on the primary language that the Volunteer will speak. French language skills are, however, very useful in Senegal, particularly when traveling or when working with people from other parts of the country. You are encouraged to learn as much French as possible prior to arrival in country as French language learning is not provided in Senegal by Peace Corps.

Living Conditions

Most Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with a host family; however, some volunteers will live in independent housing and will be connected with a resource family. Sharing meals and camaraderie with your host/resource family will help you to understand the culture, enjoy the security of family life and learn the language of your community. When living with a host family, Volunteers have a private room/hut and private latrine/toilet within the family living environment. Volunteers with independent housing will have a basic house or apartment with cooking facilities and toilet and bathing area.
Many Volunteer homes do not have access to running water or electricity. Water is collected at a community pump or well. Cell phone coverage in Senegal is fairly good and you will have a Peace Corps issued cell phone or may use your own. Internet is becoming more widely available, although it is still not available everywhere. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

It can be very useful to have a laptop and a smart phone, but you may not wish to invest in the most expensive model. The dust, heat, and humidity of Senegal are hard on electronics. Cheaper, used and/or hardier models may be better options. To support all Volunteers to have the basic tools necessary for their work Peace Corps will provide an optional 1-time grant as part of the settling-in allowance at the end of PST to buy a simple laptop/tablet (based on local market availability).
Senegalese dishes consist of a staple of rice, millet, or corn with vegetable sauces and sometimes with fresh or dried fish. Meat is also available but more of a rarity. Access to produce is seasonal and variety is often limited by geographic locations. Determined vegetarians are able to make arrangements with their host families to maintain their diet, but this usually further decreases variety.

Senegal enjoys a good primary road system, but transportation remains a challenge. You will usually travel in crowded, shared taxis and buses over rough roads, particularly outside of urban areas. You will travel by bike – PC provided – or on foot or donkey/horse cart for shorter trips within your community and to nearby towns or villages. In all cases, Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to observe PC Senegal’s transportation policy.

Senegalese pride themselves on being well dressed. A neat and dignified appearance will say a lot about your desire to be accepted as a colleague. During Pre-Service Training, the dress code is business casual. There is a lot of beautiful cloth available in Senegal, and many Volunteers have clothing made by local tailors. Volunteers should not wear clothing that is overly tight, and clothing should always come at least as low to cover the knees. Long shorts, covering the knee, are acceptable for sports, but otherwise are rarely worn.

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority may experience curiosity and unwanted attention from Senegalese nationals. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQIA) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQIA Volunteers have served here successfully.
Senegal has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and former Volunteers will address these topics during pre-service training and identify potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Serving in Senegal

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Senegal: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Senegal accepts couples' applications. One partner must qualify for this Business Development Service Agent project and the other must qualify for Senegal's Community Health Support Agent project. Married couples live with host families, as do non-married Volunteers.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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