‘For years I have been discussing global sustainable development with many amazing organisations, including Oxfam and the UN,’ says Baaba Maal.
‘And now I have decided that this is the time for me to create a means to help people to set up their own sustainable businesses.
‘This will be under the umbrella name of my organisation NANN-K.’
NANN-K will liaise between people who wish to progress in agriculture but are unaccustomed to dealing with the financial institutions who can further their plans. NANN-K will act as a gatekeeper, taking on the task of organizing funding, either from government loans or through commercial, private financing.
A Pulaar word, ‘NANN-K’ tellingly translates as the phrase ‘Listen to this.’ And in its original language spells out the initial letters of the five crucial elements with which it will be concerned: Agriculture; Fishing; Livestock Farming; Culture; and Technology Access.
The notion of NANN-K came to Baaba Maal in a midnight reverie.
But the project is far from being a dream.
The intention of NANN-K as an organisation is that it will support people from Senegal, Baaba Maal’s own country, and then throughout Africa, in developing a career in agriculture – through farming the land, raising animals, and fishing. All these are time-old rural pursuits but they have never been organised or brought into the 21st century, let alone combined with the latest digital thinking.
Thinking locally, acting globally, NANN-K was first started in the northern Senegalese region of Saint Louis and Podor. Purposefully targeting young people, it has organised start-up loans and developed apprentice schemes. NANN-K encourages the creation of
cooperative structures, allowing small family farms to remain independent whilst tapping into a larger support network.
NANN-K also interfaces with the Senegalese government: the NANN-Kk agricultural structure permits considerable opportunities for dialogue and cooperation between farmers and the government.
NANN-K was launched in Dakar on March 28th 2016, International Woman’s Day, with a concert by Baaba Maal. The date was chosen to honour the involvement of women in the development of business in Africa. There has since been a first anniversary show at Dakar’s Amadou Barry stadium.
On May 6 at Zenith in Paris there will be a Daande Lenol concert, featuring special guests, to launch the project to the African diaspora.
‘It is very important that the diaspora become involved,’ says Baaba Maal. ‘The diaspora are already trying to help in their own ways andNANN-K will assist them to do this by creating transparency and giving them opportunities to help the communities as a whole, not just individuals.
‘I intend to be the voice for the people in Africa’s rural communities: I want to offer them a chance to be part of the future development of Africa.’