In Mauritania, Oasis biscuit exports strengthen social inclusion

Thousands of round shortbread biscuits go by on a conveyor belt. Watching over his "little protégés", Salek Sidi looks satisfied with the finished product, telling us about the different varieties.

Technical director of the Société Biscuiterie de Mauritanie (SIBM, Biscuit Company of Mauritania), the 50-yearold closely monitors every stage of their manufacture: first, the dough-kneading unit, squeezing the mix between two large rollers to achieve the right thickness; then the mould that gives it its biscuit shape; then baking at 500°C for five minutes in a 30-metre long oven; and finally, cooling under very strict hygiene conditions.

Salek Sidi is proud of his production facility, with its two automated lines, financed by the Bank for Trade and Industry (BCI) one of Mauritania's main import and export banks, providing banking services to individuals and to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as SIBM.

"Thanks to this finance, our production plant has been able to acquire high-performance equipment to increase its production levels, improve its competitiveness and add more staff," said Salek Sidi.

In 2021, to strengthen its international trade finance activities for SMEs in strategic sectors, BCI secured a USD 10-million trade finance credit line from the African Development Bank.

The purpose of the operation approved by the African Development Bank was to facilitate the growth of Mauritanian SMEs, promote the development of the private sector and accelerate the economic and social development of the country. It provided BCI with the foreign currency liquidity to pre-finance the acquisition of machinery, inputs, equipment, consumer goods, food and materials for the health, agriculture, industry, construction, fish and food processing and handicraft sectors.

At its plant in Nouakchott, SIBM has about 60 employees, including many young people with no qualifications. With a firm eye on social inclusion, the company gives them an opportunity to "get their foot in the stirrup" and train in a trade with good prospects in the agri-food sector.

With a dynamic export policy, especially with its Oasis and Nomade brands, SIBM has drawn on this financial support to make the most of its different varieties of biscuits, appreciated by consumers in several countries bordering Mauritania.

In an increasingly interconnected world, every entrepreneur has a single motto: act locally and think globally. Financing the international development of Mauritanian SMEs means supporting growth and employment and thus improving people's quality of life. All over the continent, the African Development Bank works with this goal in mind, to foster a momentum of inclusive development.