Business Development Service Agent

Before You Apply

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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 is community-centered, and shares the values of Peace Corps while serving the national economic interests as a whole. As a Business Development Service Agent, you will inspire and support households’ ability to achieve economic security by undertaking different roles as a trainer, 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 agribusiness and solid waste management, integrating norms of gender equity and positive youth development, you will:
• Develop individuals’—especially youth’s and women’s—entrepreneurial potential. You will contribute to the national strategy of youth and women entrepreneurship geared to improve jobs and wealth creation through training, coaching, and organization of business events. Youth clubs are one important activity which CED Volunteers lead to help develop entrepreneurial skills and capacities.
• Improve individuals’—especially those in women’s groups—capacity to implement small-scale economic activities. In addition to training in 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 creation or enhancement of savings and loan groups.

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 our work, and strives to make these efforts more sustainable. As such, you will receive training on gender challenges in Senegal and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to 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 a 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.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline;
• Experience as the manager of a business for at least 6 months;
• BS in any discipline with 1 year work experience in cooperatives, small business, or credit unions.

Strong candidates will have skills in or knowledge of basic business topics such as cost analysis, financial planning, inventory control, bookkeeping, and/or marketing.

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.

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

Required Language Skills

Candidates with intermediate and higher fluency in French are highly desirable. Candidates speaking other Latin-based/Roman languages who are committed to learning French through self-study are also eligible.

There are many languages spoken in Senegal. 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 training.

Professional meetings are conducted in French so it is advisable that candidates arrive with at least a basic understanding of French. All Business Development Service Agents are encouraged to study French intensively before arrival.

Living Conditions

Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with families in the communities that they serve. You will share meals and camaraderie with your host family, affording you valuable opportunities to truly understand the culture, enjoy the benefits and security of family life, and learn the language of your host community. While most Business Development Service Agents live in cities or towns, many live in more rural areas. You will either have your own room in your host family’s house or you will live in a small mud hut in your family’s compound. Your room or hut will include a private latrine or bathroom and bathing area. Although having your own room or hut provides some privacy, adjusting to family life can be a real challenge, albeit one that also brings many benefits.

Senegalese dishes are tasty, usually consisting of a staple of rice, millet, or corn with vegetable sauces, sometimes with meat or fish. There is far less variety than many Americans are accustomed to having. Determined vegetarians are able to make arrangements to maintain their diet, but this further decreases variety. Some Volunteers choose to alter their diets in order to be more culturally aligned with Senegalese lifestyle.

Public services are not consistent in Senegal. Your house may or may not have electricity and running water. Communication systems have been steadily improving throughout Senegal over recent years, although cell phone coverage remains inconsistent or even non-existent in a few areas. You will be issued a simple cell phone. Internet is becoming more widely available, and can often be accessed through 4G for those Volunteers who own a smart phone or an internet dongle. CED Volunteers are encouraged to come to Senegal with a laptop. Heat and dust in Senegal take their toll on electronics, so an inexpensive, hardy machine is recommended.

Senegal enjoys a good primary road system, but transportation remains a challenge. You will travel in crowded, shared taxis and buses over rough roads, particularly outside of urban areas. You will travel by bike or on foot or donkey cart for shorter trips.

Senegalese pride themselves on being well dressed and 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 and as a Volunteer, you will continue to dress in business casual attire for your work. There is a great deal of beautiful cloth available in Senegal, and many Volunteers enjoy having clothing made by local tailors. If you are a woman, plan to wear clothing that is not overly tight and that covers you to below the knee. If you are a man, long shorts are acceptable for manual labor and sports, but otherwise are rarely worn. Neither suits nor ties are required for men.

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. Our definition of diversity includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, education, ability, and more. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience curiosity and unwanted attention from Senegalese nationals. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully. It is important that you know, however, that same-sex sexual activity is criminalized by Senegalese legal code and punishable by imprisonment in Senegal. Culturally, LGBTQ are not well accepted by many Senegalese, and LGBTQ Volunteers cannot safely serve openly. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Senegal: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — 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 families, as do non-married Volunteers.

Medical Considerations in Senegal

  • Senegal may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild and childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; gasteroenterology; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Senegal, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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