Antoinette Sampebré Nitiema, since childhood, has always been fascinated by the properties of soumbala, the local “stock cube” made from fermented néré seeds. Her stepfather, in fact, used it to make a soup that was good for his hypertension.
Antoinette, once she grew up, realized that the production of soumbala could also represent an interesting income-generating activity for women.
To obtain a truly quality product, however, one could not continue to make it in the traditional way. To work the néré well, training, clean water and hygiene standards were required, conditions often in contrast with the attitude of the women of the villages, based mostly on traditions and on “it has always been done this way”.
With her innovative ideas, Antoinette attracted a group of women around her and together they created Songmanègre, an association that has made a real business out of soumbala.
Songmanègre’s dream is to one day have a factory that produces soumbala in all forms (balls, cubes, powder, grains) and that benefits the whole village of Pousdore (Sakoinsé) in Boulkiemdé.
For now, thanks to the contribution of the project promoted by Mani Tese “Innovative social enterprises and migrants participation for social inclusion in Burkina Faso” co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and Maria Enrica Foundation, the women of Songmanègre are carrying out their business development project with the acquisition of materials and spaces suitable for production.
Antoinette is very happy, especially for the training received: if you do not learn, in fact, you work in blindness and never progress! Her motto is that une femme épanouie est une femme heureuse! (a realized woman is a happy woman!). And épanouissement (development) passes through training, because you never stop learning.
Antoinette is now 62 years old and looks to the future with hope: she hopes that her children and grandchildren will always be able to look together in the same direction, to grow and develop in understanding and union.