ILO Empowers Sierra Leonean SMEs in Palm Oil Production

The Opportunity Salone Programme, supported by the EU, is propelling positive transformation in Sierra Leone's palm oil industry. Through capacity building and access to finance, the program contributes to the creation of 4,000 jobs for men, women and persons with disabilities.

Press release | 09 November 2023
Freetown (ILO News): The EU-Funded Opportunity Salone Programme, implemented by the International Labor Organization (ILO), is a ground-breaking initiative supported with funding by the European Union that is propelling Sierra Leone's palm oil industry to new heights. Through the palm oil value chain, this program not only creates employment opportunities but also empowers youth, women, men, and individuals with disabilities.

SEDMO Construction and General Services, located in Makamie Village, Port Loko district, and owned by Sidikie Bangura, is one notable example of this advancement. The palm fruit processing plant which has been in operation for the last three years, has seen significant changes since the intervention by the ILO.

Manual system of processing palm oil
Sidikie observed that initially, most of his profit went into paying for manual labour. He heavily relied on family members. However, since making the transition to a mechanized system with the support of the program, he has witnessed increased productivity by an astounding 33%, he is able to sustainably employ six young female workers, create a safer workspace without the hazards posed by the traditional stomping methods, and the hygienic quality of the products.

I am happy that my senior wife runs the administrative aspect of the business, the second drives the 5-tonne truck to deliver processed palm oil and palm kernels to the factory and to the market, and have been able to employ more women with an appreciable daily wage to take care of their children. All this is possible with the support of the opportunity Salone program."

Sidikie

Presently, SEDMO is making giant strides by generating more than 5,000 liters of refined oil in a week and has even taken part in one of the biggest trade shows in Sierra Leone, where he sold out all of his oil inventory in a single day (a milestone accomplishment for the SME). In addition, the business has expanded into processing leftover palm kernel nuts into vegetable cooking oil to package and export this product to other countries.

Notably, SEDMO company's financial success has enabled him to give back to his community. He has installed solar-powered light systems at the factory and community to improve safety and unavoidable nighttime activities. This development greatly benefits the predominantly Muslim community, especially during the Ramadan fast, where late-night prayers are required.

As a proud father, Sidikie Bangura is delighted to share that he can sponsor his son to study law at the university and hopes that he will continue the family's legacy of successful entrepreneurship upon graduation.

Through collaborations with enterprises like SEDMO, the Opportunity Salone program is not only enhancing production efficiency and product quality but also opening doors for self-employment. This initiative is contributing to the creation of 4000 decent jobs for Sierra Leoneans across the country.