Business Development Service Agent

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 support households’ to achieve their dreams and visions of economic security by working with your local partners as a trainer, facilitator, change agent, 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 work with your local counterpart to:
• 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 that CED Volunteers lead to help develop entrepreneurial skills and capacities.
• Strengthen individuals’—especially those in women’s groups—capacity to implement small-scale economic activities. In addition to 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 creation or enhancement of savings and loan groups.

In the context of COVID-19 and the needed subsequent economic recovery, you will likely be engaging into support to the development of co-ops, youth employability, 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 our work, and strives to make these efforts more sustainable. As such, you will receive training on gender norms in Senegal and you will have the opportunity to work with communities to conduct gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. 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.

Due to COVID-19, there may be some changes to activities and living conditions as stated here. Flexibility and adaptability are important for Volunteer service, especially during these unprecedented times.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 year work experience in cooperatives, small business, or credit unions
• 5 years of professional work experience including at least 6 months of business management experience.

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

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position. A. Completed 4 years of high school coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language B. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language C. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commitment to self‐study and a subsequent placement test (score of 50 on the French College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

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. Candidates should note that PC Senegal only teaches local Senegalese languages, not French, as Volunteers need local language to integrate into their host communities and to undertake their work.

Living Conditions

Most Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with families, however some volunteers will live in 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. CED Volunteers generally live in small and medium towns. 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. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, more independent living situations may be utilized in urban and semi-urban areas.

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. Internet is becoming more widely available, although it is still not available everywhere. You may be able to access 4G. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring a laptop for project planning, monitoring and reporting. However, keep in mind that the dust, heat and humidity of Senegal are hard on electronics. 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; cheaper used and/or hardier models may be better options.

Senegalese dishes are tasty, usually consisting 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. 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 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 or on foot or donkey 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. 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 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 (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully.

Senegal has some 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 position with the Community Economic Development project and the other must qualify for Senegal's Health project as a Community Health Support Agent. As part of the COVID-19 prevention measures, married couples live in independent housing and are connected to a resource family. Couples will live together throughout Pre-Service Training as well as throughout Peace Corps service.

Medical Considerations

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

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