Awa Caba graduated in Computer Science from Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique de Dakar, Senegal, and in Business and Entrepreneurship following her selection for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. She is the co-founder and CEO of Soreetul, an online sales company selling local products. Awa is also the co-founder and CEO of Soreetul Traiteur.

Awa supports the financial empowerment of youth and women, as well as the development of agribusiness in Senegal through the digital economy. She is a founding member of Jiggen Tech, the first network of women in technology in Senegal. She also created Yeesal Agrihub, a technology development center to train and support young people in agricultural entrepreneurship. Between 2019 and 2020, Awa facilitated the entrepreneurship program for women developed by Arizona State University, United States. In addition, Awa has contributed to the implementation of projects and programs of development actors (FAO, IFAD, GIZ, USAID) promoting the digitalization of Senegalese agriculture among producers, women and youth.

Awa has received numerous awards for her commitment, including receiving the Innovation Time Award at the Rebranding Africa Awards in 2015, the Pitch AgriHack 2016 organised by CTA and the Woman Leader Award at the African Woman Leadership Awards in 2020. Awa was also selected as one of the 30 Most Promising Young African Entrepreneurs in 2018 by Forbes Africa and  was thanked by United States President Barack Obama for her innovative contribution to agriculture and technology at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) summit in 2016.

Awa Caba

CEO, Soreetul

Business Location: Dakar, Senegal

Type: Simplified Joint Stock Company
Number of Employees: 4
CEO: Awa Caba

Mission: Soreetul, which means “It’s not far” in Wolof, is a distribution company for local food and cosmetics from short production circuits. Its mission is to combine rural supply with urban demand through digital technologies and to (re-)discover traditional products to Senegalese consumers.

Founding

Soreetul was created to promote local production by offering visibility and market access and to reduce imports of food products (which represent 70% of products consumed in Senegal).

Soreetul’s business model responds to three major characteristics of the agri-food sector in Senegal, namely:
• the growing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that process local products and have difficulties in marketing them, in particular because of their low visibility,
• the explosion of urban demand for local agri-food products,
• the prevalence of women in the agri-food sector in Senegal (who represent 80% of the sector).

By marketing processed local products on a digital platform, Soreetul allows urban consumers to access products from small and/or medium-sized local productions. The company also seeks to increase the supply of Senegalese products by empowering and supporting women producers in rural areas.

Soreetul is a pioneer in the distribution of fresh and processed products from local raw materials from Senegal, seeking to substitute equivalent imported products. In addition, it is the first digital platform for marketing local products in Senegal.

Relationship with Smallholders

Soreetul exclusively distributes local products grown and processed by Senegalese SMEs run by women. The company supports them in the promotion and marketing of their products.

The company distributes the products of 23 SMEs located in seven regions of Senegal and thus has an indirect positive impact on more than 2,500 women.

Covered Products and Markets

Soreetul offers for sale more than 400 natural and organic products grouped into a dozen categories, such as fruits and vegetables, cereals, spices, jams, juices, teas and cosmetics. Some products are distributed exclusively by Soreetul.

Soreetul’s offer includes three types of complementary services:

E-Market
Soreetul’s initial activity is the sale of local products via its online store (digital platform and mobile application) and in its physical store in Dakar. The company offers a service for the collection of orders at home (including outside Senegal), as well as the possibility of picking them up in store.

Traiteur
Since 2018 and the creation of Soreetul Traiteur, the company offers a catering service with local flavors for private and corporate events. The menus offered are made only with local and organic products and offer a nutritional culinary experience. The catering service is accompanied by the provision of a team for the installation of logistics (hot spot, table, etc. ) and service.

Digitag
Soreetul also strongly supports the development of the Senegalese agri-food sector by offering various services adapted to a specific audience. The company has developed a service in the design of digital and marketing solutions (including e-commerce, web marketing and digital communication) to encourage and support the actors in this sector, mainly rural women, in the development of their activities. Soreetul also provides technical support to governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the implementation of their agribusiness sector development policies and programs.

The products distributed by Soreetul are 100% natural, some being certified organic.

Innovations: Milestones and Expansion Plans

The Soreetul platform was created by four computer engineers from the École Supérieure Polytechnique de Dakar, including Awa Caba, as part of a competition (Imagine Cup) in 2011. It was initially a platform for promoting fisheries, livestock and agricultural products and for informing producers. In 2014, its creators chose to devote this platform exclusively to e-commerce by creating Soreetul with their own funds and a grant of 5 million CFA francs from the Fund for the Development of the Universal Service of Telecommunications (FDSUT).

In 2019, after five years of exclusively online activities, Soreetul opened a physical store in Dakar to exhibit local products for sale.

Soreetul’s commitment to building the capacities of local stakeholders resulted a partnership with the Ecole supérieure de commerce et de gestion de Dakar (ESUP Dakar) in December 2021. As part of this partnership, Soreetul contributes to the assistance and pedagogical support of ESUP Dakar students through internships and immersion activities in companies. This also makes it easier to promote local products to students and staff.

Scaling Needs

The competitiveness of local Senegalese products, particularly in terms of price, is negatively impacted by the lack of packaging industries and large-scale production in Senegal. Local products are thus more difficult to access by Senegalese consumers than imported products, whose price is often more competitive.
Soreetul seeks to develop partnerships, particularly outside Senegal, to sell its products in neighboring countries or even on other continents (particularly Asia).

Success Factors and Lessons Learned

Through its online store, Soreetul has enabled local SMEs to seize new business opportunities and serve new markets by giving them access to a new type of clientele beyond the geographical area of production. The digital platform offers the local products offered for sale visibility among the Senegalese urban population, as well as a new positioning on the international level (export).

By digitizing more than 400 agricultural products processed by rural women in Senegal, Soreetul has offered 23 SMEs the opportunity to sell their products outside the traditional market and fair circuit. This diversification of sales networks has led to an increase in sales allowing the employees of these local companies to benefit, on average, from continuous monthly income. More than 2500 women have been positively and indirectly impacted in the distribution of agricultural products.

The increased visibility of products offered for sale online also offers the possibility of collecting customer reviews and recommendations. This allowed 5 SMEs to modify the packaging of their products to better meet the expectations expressed by consumers. 4 SMEs also benefited from media coverage (reports etc.) and 2 SMEs participated in international fairs, providing them with additional promotion on a significant scale.

Numerous awards and distinctions recognize the commitment and innovation of Soreetul and its General Manager, Awa Caba.

Resources

https://www.facebook.com/SoreetulStore/
https://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/1077748/societe/le-made-in-senegal-pour-afdecoloniser-lassiette-af/
https://www.socialnetlink.org/2019/11/14/agritech-soreetul-et-icon-africa-signent-un-partenariat-ce-mercredi-a-dakar/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgXGA0ZcJGQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN1KeqVZMkY
https://www.bbc.com/afrique/region-38372770
https://spore.cta.int/fr/entrepreneurship/all/article/la-start-up-sooretul-met-les-produits-locaux-a-portee-de-clics-sid0f7adde31-7c31-4fe7-ac0d-958bb132d63f
https://fr.africanews.com/2021/12/12/du-made-in-senegal-dans-les-assiettes-business-africa//

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