Her best-selling products? Handmade wigs

Thanks to the help alliance project Leona in Senegal, Marietou has been able to train as a hairdresser and is now standing firmly on her own two feet

Marietou’s small store is the point of call for the women of her home village near Saint-Louis in Senegal. This is where young girls, mothers and elderly ladies meet up every day to exchange news and views and stock up on beauty products. The pink plastered store, barely larger than a few square meters, is nicely outfitted with everything that women require to meet their daily needs: cosmetics, care products, along with hair ties, barrettes and jewelry. In Germany, a drugstore would probably offer a similar range. However, the best-selling items here are Marietou’s handmade wigs.

The men in her home village work in the salt mine and toil away underground for a modest wage. A lot of the women are illiterate and have had no training. This was the case with Marietou. But she didn’t want to submit to this predetermined fate and went looking for something that would give her prospects. 


More about the help alliance project …

She found it in the form of the help alliance project Leona, headed by the former First Chairman of help alliance, Rita Diop. The young woman then not only completed her primary school education (6th grade), but also trained as a hairdresser.

Since 2002, the project has offered education and training opportunities to children and young women in the Leona district of Saint-Louis in the north of Senegal, thus giving them prospects. The center also comes with a kindergarten. The schoolchildren of the two primary schools in the district benefit from the free tuition. In 2006, help alliance founded the Keur Mame Fatim Konté training center for the tailoring and hairdressing trades, cooking and the service sector. After completing their training, eighty percent of the young women work in the occupations they have trained for. This offer is supplemented by health care for all pupils, trainees and the employees of the center. Annual health campaigns provide medical care to the entire population of the district. The help alliance project also pays special attention to street children, who are excluded from the school system. They receive tuition, medical care, access to sanitary facilities, clothing and food in the center. Every year, 100 children in the kindergarten, 200 young people in training courses, up to 100 primary school children and 52 street children benefit from what the project offers. In a roundabout way, you could say, the entire district.

Support us.

Leona, Senegal

Frankfurter Sparkasse 1822
IBAN: DE89 5005 0201 0200 0292 23


Marietou is wearing one of her handmade wigs today. She has gone for the Rastafarian look. Hair is rarely cut in Senegal, because that is rather the exception in the African country. Instead, women often resort to wigs, because of time constraints – wigs such as Marietou’s. Only before the holidays or on special occasions do the women queue up and let Marietou lavishly put up their hair. The store only offers space for one customer at a time – it’s just too small for anything else.

That is why Marietou wants to expand the size of the shop at some point, but she still has to save up a bit for that. Bookkeeping is not her strong point. But she gets support from the project with this, too. Then she will be able to make her dream come true all by herself.

Projekt Location

Saint-Louis, Senegal