Empowering rural women has the potential to transform the economic dynamics of local communities

March 8, 2024

Fatmata Sankoh of Kalamareh Farming Enterprise, a beneficiary of UNDP Sierra Leones Growth Accelerator Programme

UNDP Siera Leone/Janet Dabire

In the heart of Magbando, Port Loko District, Sierra Leone, Mrs. Fatmata B. Sankoh, a resilient entrepreneur, is changing her community through agribusiness and demonstrating the transformative impact of empowering rural women. 

Trained by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in oil palm cultivation, Fatmata and her peers initially produced seedlings for local farmers but eventually established their own farms, collectively planting acres of oil palm plantations. As the years went by, they began harvesting palm fruits, and Fatmata seized the opportunity to venture into palm oil production and established her enterprise “Kalamareh Farming Enterprise”.

“We were harvesting a lot of palm fruits, so I started producing “pamayn” (palm oil) in my community,” Fatmata said. However, the more palm oil I produced, the more palm nuts we collected in the community. “We were burning the palm nut as fuel for the palm production,” Fatmata adds.

However, the abundance of palm nuts, the waste from oil palm production in Magbando ignited Fatmata's entrepreneurial spirit. She established a manual palm kernel processing unit in her village and started producing nut oil (palm kernel oil), in limited quantities. 

Mechanizing palm kernel oil production with support from UNDP

In 2022, Fatmata became a beneficiary of UNDP’s Growth Accelerator programme that aims to accelerate growth of innovative, viable, and ambitious MSMEs with transformative economic impact through improved access to finance, Technical Assistance, and business development services. The support from UNDP Growth Accelerator was a turning point in Fatmata’s entrepreneurship journey. The programme provided her with crucial investments totaling NLe 180,000, technical assistance, and business mentorship which enabled her to acquire a palm kernel cracker and mill. This timely investment revolutionized her community, eliminated waste, and created income streams from palm oil, palm kernel, and their by-products.

A palm nut mill at Fatmata Sankoh's processing plant.

UNDP Siera Leone/Janet Dabire

Not only did Fatmata's Kalamareh Farming Enterprise add value to local palm oil production, but it also became an avenue for job creation for youth, women in her community. Offering cracking and milling services to women in Magbando, Port Loko and neighboring communities. This investment has been a game changer for the community.

“All the women in my community no longer waste their palm kernel, they bring them here to mill into oil. So, we make money from the palm oil, palm kernel and the waste” she notes with pride.

Today, she produces a significant quantity of oil weekly, generating income for palm kernel owners and boosting her business. Fatmata also initiated a soap-making business, providing employment opportunities for four women from her community.

With an eye on the future, Fatmata plans to open a shop and extend her reach to other communities, envisioning a brighter future not just for herself but for the entire community.


Fatmata's business is one of 52 MSMEs supported by the UNDPs Growth Accelerator Programme over the last two years. Her business reaches over 100 women weekly, enhancing their incomes and livelihoods. 

Her story is a testimony to the transformative power of structured support for MSMEs, showcasing the potential to reduce poverty and uplift communities. Fatmata's journey continues to inspire, underscoring the immense possibilities of investments in grassroot initiatives.  

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“All the women in my community no longer waste their palm kernel, they bring them here to mill into oil. So, we make money from the palm oil, palm kernel and the waste” she notes with pride.
Fatmata Sankoh of Kalamareh Farming Enterprise