Marguerite Thiaw

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Marguerite Thiaw was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Marguerite has created a baby food to reduce child malnutrition and increase the income of women producers in Senegal. After noting that the banana was the most widely available produce in her village, Marguerite decided that it must be possible to use this fruit beyond merely selling and consuming it in its raw form. So when her youngest child was suffering from malnutrition and chronic diarrhoea she had the idea to create a banana-based food product with close to the same nutrient values as the baby foods sold at large supermarkets and which her meagre income prevented her from buying for her child.

Under strict hygienic conditions, Marguerite dried and peeled unripe bananas before grinding them into flour. She then put this flour to boil, and mixed it with milk and a small amount of sugar. Marguerite gave the resulting blend to her child, who day by day regained strength and returned to good health. The medical personnel under whose care he was also noticed the change and attributed it to this remedy.

Propelled by this success, Marguerite called together the members of the Association of Women Banana Producers (AFPROBAT), which she founded a few years earlier for the aim of increasing economic cooperation, as well as political, economic, and intellectual power among women banana producers. She shared her discovery and they all began using the remedy. Marguerite also shared with them other food products she had created from banana flour and banana skin, including a medicinal product for skin problems. Aware of the value of these new banana-based products, Marguerite and the members of her organization decided to take the product to commercialization by organizing at each stage of the value chain. The result has been the empowerment of women producers who now have a new source of revenue through their identity as banana knowledge entrepreneurs.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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