Home #ImpactStory Ramata Sou

#ImpactStory Ramata Sou – Economic Empowerment Through Local Women's Association

Marie
May 13, 2022

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In today's #ImpactStory we would like to introduce Ramata Sou. In cooperation with the local organisation Bogojef – an association for women in business – Ramata runs a grocery shop in N'diob, Senegal.

Everything from rice, oil and vegetables to sweet treats and drinks can be found there. The women's association, of which Ramata is chairperson, has been running the shop for five years now. The women take turns with the management: each woman is given the management for three months and has full responsibility for running the shop. Then there is a swap. 

Part of the income is given to other women of the association, who then have the opportunity to invest in their own business and thus enrich the village. 50 women are currently enrolled in the association and the cohesion among them is enormous:

I am very happy to be the chairperson of the association because it allows me to see and feel the potential of mutual empowerment every day. We women in particular share the same problems and challenges and should therefore support each other even more. I am very happy that we founded the association because it empowers us to become self-sufficient in terms of economy.

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The electricity from Africa GreenTec will change things in N'diob

New Opportunities Through Sustainable Electricity

Currently there is no electricity in the shop. The women close the shop already in the afternoon, because as soon as it gets dark, it is no longer so safe in the area. Ramata hopes that the electricity from Africa GreenTec will bring some changes:

First of all, I hope it will allow us to keep the shop open in the evenings and late into the night. Our shop is right in the centre of the village, so it has the best prerequisites to become the centre of village life. The young people could get together here in the evenings, drink, eat and have fun together. But since we don't have electricity, there is currently nothing going on here as soon as it gets dark. I think that's just a shame. Hopefully the electricity from Africa GreenTec will change that.

There is still a high demand for ice cream in the village. Chilled soft drinks and cold specialities such as sow (dessert) are very popular, especially at festivals and ceremonies. Unfortunately, there is currently no one who can meet the demand for cooling facilities. People have to travel kilometres to get ice cream. Ramata wants to change this. With the electricity from Africa GreenTec, she would be able to run a refrigerator in which she could refrigerate not only ice cream but also fish and meat, for example, and thus diversify her product range.

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Upward Economic Spiral As a Matter of Course

These new opportunities would in turn generate more income for the shop, which would mean that more money could be made available to the women in the association, who could then reinvest more in new branches of business. This would create an upward economic spiral in the village, benefiting the whole community. 

When we ask Ramata at the end of the interview about the impact she has in the village through her shop, she replies:

The shop is the life of the town. If we weren't here, people would have to go all the way to another village just to cook something for their families. We provide the people here with everyday food. I think we are indispensable for the village! As I said before, I am convinced that the shop has a lot of untapped potential. We can enliven the village even more with the power of Africa GreenTec. I'm looking forward to seeing that happen!

We are happy about the electrification of N'Diob village is supported by the Renewable Energy Solutions program of the German Ministry for Economic Affairs' Export­initiative Energie, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, by Wilo as well as AGT Help eV. With the support of our strong partners, we can truly achieve great things together.

Home #ImpactStory Nassou Oumar

#ImpactStory Nassou Oumar – Serial Entrepreneur With Local Vision

Marie
December 02, 2021

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In today's ImpactStory we would like to introduce you to Nassou Oumar. He runs a thriving restaurant in Djoliba, Mali, has his own livestock and a chicken farm, and also runs a small hardware shop where he sells essentials for repairs and construction. He is a true serial entrepreneur who never tires of new ideas to empower his village.

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Nassou Oumar in front of his resturant in Djoliba
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The refrigerator is an important asset in Nassou's restaurant

More Productivity and Opportunities Through Sustainable Electricity – Nassou Shows the Way

We meet Nassou for our interview at his restaurant. Nassou is known throughout Djoliba for his delicious fried chicken and when we get the chance to try one of the infamous chickens after the interview, we understand why.

Currently, Nassou only uses electricity from Africa GreenTec for his restaurant, which he opened just four months before our interview. Since he started getting electricity from Africa GreenTec, Nassou's restaurant has been full of guests, especially in the evenings:

It's crazy! My shop has become the most popular meeting place in the village after only four months! But I understand why, it’s because I have something to offer to people. To be able to entertain people, I bought a TV where my guests can watch football matches, for example. I also have my stereo on every night and people love to sit together in the evening with good Afrobeat music and eat and drink together. And it's not too hot in my shop. With the fan I recently bought, my guests at least get a little cooling from the heat outside.

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In addition, Nassou can keep his shop open longer in the evening. His guests are able to stay despite the darkness because he now also has light in his restaurant in the evening. Due to the attractive features his restaurant offers, Nassou can hardly save himself from guests. Moreover, thanks to word of mouth, the news of his fried chicken speciality has spread quickly and everyone wants to see the new restaurant and its owner for themselves.

With the increased income from his restaurant, Nassou could afford to hire more staff and currently employs six people in his restaurant. He has created jobs in his village, which is why people are additionally grateful to him and appreciate him.

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Sustainable Agriculture As a Second Mainstay

His livestock farming is also going well. He currently has about 30 cows, 15 sheep and 750 chickens. Since 2010, Nassou has repeatedly taken part in training courses on livestock breeding and uses the expertise he has gained to raise his animals in the best possible way. Good treatment of his animals is very important to him. Once a day, he goes to visit his animals in the field and makes sure that everything is in order.

In addition, he operates an incubator in which he breeds his chickens. He currently operates this incubator with his own solar panels, as Africa GreenTec is currently unable to provide electricity in Djoliba 24 hours a day. However, this is essential for the incubator, because if the eggs are not irradiated with light around the clock, they will not hatch.

Besides chickens and eggs, he also sells ground maize. Nassou has a mill with which he processes the coarse maize into flour. There is a high demand for maize flour and he always finds customers who buy it from him by the kilo.

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Nassou also raises sheep
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The incubator requires power throughout

This is what I am proud of! I am active and want to make a good life for myself and my family through my work! Furthermore, I want to create an impact in my village and give something back to my community. Without electricity, my ideas cannot be implemented, so electricity is the beginning of everything for me. I want to help the village by starting businesses and creating jobs. In entrepreneurship, I experience independence and self-determination myself and that is very important to me – at the moment, I couldn't be better off. 10 years ago I was already in Morocco and wanted to go to Europe. If someone offered me to move to Paris today, I would turn it down – I have everything here!

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Prospects for the Future

Nassou still has some plans for the future. He wants to buy several freezers for his restaurant to be able to store the chicken meat better and longer. He also plans to expand his livestock breeding. Furthermore, he wants a delivery van to be able to sell his products & goods further away. He would like to have electricity that runs around the clock. We have often received this feedback from our customers. We are therefore already working on innovative storage options and concepts to make this possible in new and existing ImpactSites.

Home #ImpactStory Koloba Keita

#ImpactStory Koloba Keita – Entrepreneur With Vision

Marie
October 13, 2021

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We meet Koloba Keita in his internet café in Djoliba, Mali. When we enter Koloba's shop, he is still completely engrossed in a conversation with a young man. They are sitting in front of a computer, Koloba is gesticulating and seems to be explaining something to him. The young man looks a little lost. When Koloba sees us, a grin spreads across his face and he comes over to us.

"Salam Aleikum! I'm glad you're here! This is my apprentice," he greets us, pointing at the young man who is still staring at the computer screen in front of him with a somewhat distressed expression on his face. Koloba has now been running his internet café on Djoliba's main street since 2018. He has been saving for the shop for years, because a shop in this area is very desirable and therefore expensive.

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Recipe for Success: Hard Skills Plus Soft Skills With a Lot of Life Experience

Koloba's story is impressive. After leaving school, he enthusiastically began studying architecture and graduated with a bachelor's degree. But he did not find a job. Youth unemployment is a problem in many West African countries. Numerous young and highly motivated students complete their Bachelor's and Master's degrees every year, only to be confronted with the reality that there are simply no jobs for them. That's exactly how Koloba felt, but he didn't let that drag him down for long.
I am an optimist. Of course I was disappointed not to be able to work as an architect, but there were other jobs that people needed. There were few hairdressers in Djoliba, so I started cutting hair. Later I saw that there was a great need for internet and technology, so I trained in electrical engineering and IT. My savings from cutting hair then enabled me to buy this shop here. So there is a red thread in my life. In hindsight, it all makes sense.
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Local Empowerment Through IT

For Koloba, his family and the community of Djoliba are his main focus. He wants to empower them and offer them the services they don't have yet. He sees the education of young people in particular as an important point to empower the village community and to be able to offer the children and young people the chance of a self-determined life.

Currently, he is also in contact with the local school in order to be able to offer computer courses to the local children:

The internet is the future. It makes it possible to connect with all kinds of people around the globe. It is important to see how other people live and work. That's why people here need to learn how to use computers, how to use the internet. I am convinced that this can have a big impact in Djoliba.

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Koloba's Services at the Internet Café Are in Demand in Djoliba

Currently, Koloba is supported by his apprentice and his little brother in the internet café. His brother used to sell clothes at the market, but Koloba persuaded him to join his business and become his trainee.

The demand for Koloba's services in Djoliba is high. People come to the internet café to print, copy or scan documents and photos. What Koloba additionally offers is the transfer of music to different devices. That means people can come to him with their laptop and easily transfer their music to their mobile phone or iPod. Thereby, Koloba has struck a chord with the younger generation, who regularly visit him for this very service.

Koloba says of his impact in the village:

This is what I live for. If I can make my contribution to a happy community, I am happy. I have three children myself and I want them to have the same opportunities as children in the city, for example. There is still a lot to do in Djoliba, but my internet cafe is a good start to begin with.

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Sustainable Electricity From Africa GreenTec and Microcredits As a Chance for More Economic Self-Determination

Koloba has been using electricity from Africa GreenTec for two years now and is satisfied. Before, his computers sometimes broke down due to the constant power cuts and customers could never be sure whether they would be able to print something or not. Today, Koloba's power supply is reliable.

For the future, Koloba would like to have more credit facilities. His printer is currently broken and he can neither find spare parts nor a new printer of equal quality. He would have to travel to the capital and make enquiries there. At least the financial costs could be covered by microcredits, for example. The system of microcredits for entrepreneurs in rural areas, popularised by Muhammad Yunus, would be a sensible solution for Koloba and the community.

Since Africa GreenTec has been providing electricity to my café, I have bought many new computers. Before, the electricity was very unreliable and the frequent interruptions ruined the computers – a disaster for business.
Home #ImpactStory Modibo Traore

#ImpactStory Modibo Traore – Independence, Self-Reliance and Freedom

Marie
July 26, 2021

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Modibo Traore is appreciated throughout Djoliba for his work

Today we set out to visit Modibo Traore. He is 45,  works as a welder and lives in Djoliba, Mali. When we arrive at his property, there is a hustle and bustle. We cross the yard and stop in front of his workshop. There is a lot of activity today. Young men are hauling pieces of metal. Instructions are hurriedly shouted to each other and the welding machines create a high noise level.

A tall man approaches us. "Salam Aleikum," he greets us! "Sorry for the noise, but today is busy, we can sit around the corner here and do the interview." We follow him. Our first question is how he built his business.

In Conversation With Modibo Traore

Oh, the welding shop is a family business. My family has worked here for generations. My great-grandfather was already welding here. Of course, back then there was no electricity and he just repaired tools for the crops. My father then had electricity through a diesel generator and was able to repair other things. And I was able to establish something completely new in Djoliba through your electricity.

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Modibo's Skills and Reliability Are Convincing in Djoliba

Since Modibo was 7 years old, he looked over his father's shoulder and learned everything from him. Then, at 15, he worked permanently in the family business. He also worked for several years in Libya and learned new techniques there, which he also integrated here after his return to Djoliba.

Now Modibo has a lot of responsibility. He is the main provider for his extended family. The income from the farm even enabled him to build a house for the family a few years ago, and his siblings appreciate his support. Family means everything to Modibo.

Throughout the village, Modibo is appreciated for his good work, ambition and reliability. Everyone treats him with respect. We also noticed this during our visit.

He is a board member of Djoliba’s Craftsmen Association and is asked for advice when difficulties arise.

It's nice that people here appreciate my work. I love my job and know that I am good at what I do. For me, welding is not a job, it's my passion, my life. I do it first and foremost to help the people here, not to make as much money as possible.
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Africa GreenTec As a Reliable Electricity Supplier

Modibo was one of the first to seek solar power from Africa GreenTec in Djoliba. Since his diesel generator broke down frequently and gas is an extremely expensive alternative in Djoliba, he worked hard to get more sustainable and cheaper electricity.

The solar energy from Africa GreenTec has allowed him to reduce the consumption of the diesel generator and the machines that work with diesel. Sometimes he still uses it because his machines need high power and that of the solar energy is sometimes not enough in the evening hours.

Since he has reliable electricity, more customers are also coming. Not only from Djoliba, but also from neighboring villages. His income has quadrupled in recent years.

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The electricity from Africa GreenTec has made things easier

It's incredible what has changed here. When I think back to how my grandfather used to work and how I work today... it's worlds apart.

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Challenges for the Future of the Sustainable Family Business

But there are also challenges for the business. Modibo lacks the financial means to be able to buy more modern machines for his business right now. He also would like to further his education in the field of electricity generation.

Thanks to Africa GreenTec, I can finally work without interruptions. My old diesel generator was constantly failing and too expensive, making smaller jobs unprofitable. Now I have a lot more orders than before and my customers no longer have to drive all the way to Bamako to get custom-made products. This way the jobs and the money stay in the village! Ever since this boost, I have hired several young people and now I employ over 20 people in total. To me, my business means independence, self-sufficiency and freedom.
Home #ImpactStory Diessira Diallo

#ImpactStory Diessira Diallo – Productive Use of Electricity As a Key Factor for a Functioning Business

Marie
July 12, 2021

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As we make our way to Diessira Diallo, it begins to rain lightly. It is the end of the rainy season in Djoliba, Mali, but every now and then a few drops still fall. Diessira is waiting for us in front of her kiosk, which she opened in 2018 on Djoliba's main street. 

Before Diessira started her current shop, she had a smaller kiosk in Djoliba, not far from the current one. As the number of her customers quickly increased and she noticed that the demand for her products was growing strongly, she decided in 2018 to open a larger kiosk on her family's property - with success. Her shop is doing well, customers are happy and Diessira has been able to increase her income significantly.

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Productive Use of Electricity As the Key to Success

The electricity from Africa GreenTec also plays an important role here. Many people in Djoliba are currently using small PV panels with batteries to power their devices - including Diessira. However, the performance of the batteries is often low and they are also not very durable. Diessira only used her batteries to power a light bulb in the evening so that she could work longer in her store.

Diessira has been purchasing solar energy from Africa GreenTec since December 2018. This has changed a lot. As she can now also use the electricity productively and offer cold drinks (tamarind and guava juice are the top sellers), for example, her income has more than doubled.

In the rainy and harvest season, I hardly have any customers during the day. With electricity and light, I can also open my shop in the evening. I also bought a refrigerator. Now I not only throw away less food, but also attract new customers. They come to buy refrigerated things and then stay – my shop has become a meeting place for the village and my income has multiplied! This way I am able to feed more than 60 people in my family. In the future, I want to open more shops and help people by not having to travel to Bamako for their groceries.

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Fresh fruit is also available at Diessira's
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There is a wide range of everyday products

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Women Empowerment – Let’s Talk Business Y’All!

Recently, women from Djoliba, including Diessira, have started an association that supports women to start a business. The women share start-up ideas, funding and business strategies to support each other.

Her family is also heavily involved in Diessira's shop. Her children help out in the shop after school and learn from her how to do the bookkeeping, for example. They take their mother's ambition as a model. Diessira wants to open more shops in Djoliba. At the moment, her savings are not enough to open another shop, but that is at the top of her priority list, right next to two more refrigerators for her current shop. Because of its convenient location on the main road, her kiosk is very busy.

Home #ImpactStory Mamadou Sangari

#ImpactStory Mamadou Sangari – Tailor With Passion

Marie
October 06, 2020

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Sirakoro – 2014

Like every morning, Mamadou Sangar gets up, gets dressed and heads to his master tailor. He is an apprentice to a tailor in Sirakoro, Mali. Once there, Mamadou puts the kettle on, pours hot water onto the dried herbs and serves his instructor the freshly brewed tea. He sits down next to him on the wooden bench and watches him sew. His instructor's hands are experienced and move quickly. Mamadou has to concentrate so as not to miss anything.

Sirakoro – 2019

Five years later, Mamadou Sangari is a trained tailor himself and has followed in his instructor's footsteps. Today, his own apprentices prepare his morning tea and soak up everything he teaches them. They remind Mamadou of himself and he is happy to be able to pass his professional passion on to them.

In Conversation With Mamadou Sangari

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Electricity From Africa GreenTec As an Alternative to Diesel Generators

Mamadou currently has five sewing machines, all of which he still runs on diesel generators. His master had no other alternative at the time. But he wants to do it differently:

The diesel power here is expensive, the generator is too loud and often breaks down. That's why I'm looking for an alternative for my business. I am already a private customer of Africa GreenTec and now I want to use the electricity commercially. I see the benefits and am aware that a reliable source of electricity is necessary to take more orders.
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For Mamadou, it is more convenient to work in the evening hours as it is cooler then. With electricity available in the evening, he can easily work until midnight if an urgent order comes in.

During the rainy season, fewer customers come to Mamadou. Therefore, he also works in the fields during this time to support his family. He is newly engaged and wants to have something to offer his future wife. That is why he built her a house with his earnings from the business.

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Self-Employment As Fulfillment

For Mamadou, it was always clear that he wanted to be self-employed. He has seen with family and friends how quickly one can be dismissed as an employee and be without income for a while. Now he is his own boss and earns money doing something he enjoys. For the future, Mamadou hopes that he can expand further and inspire more people for the art of tailoring.

If you can do something really well, it's a great thing. I am really happy when I can teach young people how to tailor and see them do it with the same passion as I do. We dress the whole of Sirakoro. We make sure that people here are well dressed and confident because of their clothes. I'm proud of that, that's why I keep going.
Home #ImpactStory Djan Bagayogo

#ImpactStory Djan Bagayogo – The Multi-Talent Fights With All His Might for the Potential of His Village

Marie
August 28, 2020

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Djan is an impressive personality. His energy and positivity are overwhelming and we are soon highly motivated and fit again, infected by his enthusiasm.
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A Hairdresser With Many Different Facets

Djan is a hairdresser in Sirakoro, Mali. In the course of the conversation, he turns out to be a multi-talent with many side businesses, but the hair salon was his first business and his heart's project. Djan experimented with different styles and braided hairstyles as a teenager. Sometimes a good friend needed cornrows for a party, sometimes his little cousin wanted braids for the start of school. He soon realised that there was a demand for fancy hairstyles and, as there was not a single hairdresser in Sirakoro, decided to simply become one himself. Word quickly spread around the village that he was really good at what he did, and he could hardly keep up with the steady flow of customers. That's how his hairdressing salon came into being in 2013.

I don't see why I should have to go all the way to Bamako to look good. Even here, people want to dress up for special occasions, like weddings or local festivals. With my salon, I have inspired young people in particular to give back more to their village and trust in their potential. That makes me proud.

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Djan also repairs shoes in his store

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Djan Trusts in the Potential of the Next Generation

Djan has up to 15 customers a day and can hardly keep up. That is why he now has five employees to support him in his daily work. We ask him about the skills that he looks for in people applying to work for him.
My employees have to be able to do everything. Like me. Besides hairdressing, I repair shoes and do various domestic installations. Furthermore, I am also active as a painter. I label signs and houses for people. There is a great need for all these things and if no one else does it, then I am going to do it. I want to help where I can. I expect the same from my staff. And most of them bring a tremendous amount of potential, they are diamonds in the rough that I want to shape.
In fact, Djan is an all-rounder and even trained as a tattoo artist in Bamako to be able to decorate the skin of the villagers with his designs. People from his community should not have to travel to another village or the capital to get these services. He wants to create new opportunities in his village and use the potential of his community to do so. And it works. Many jump on the bandwagon and start businesses that benefit their village. There are now even four hairdressers in Sirakoro. Djan was the first.
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Electricity As an Enabler for More Activities in the Village

For all of them, electricity is the prerequisite for making a difference in the village. Djan, for example, uses batteries and small solar panels to power his appliances, but has been looking for a better and reliable solution for a long time. Africa GreenTec offers him the very solution with electricity from the Solartainer.
To be honest, I don't think about myself that much. Sure, the electricity from Africa GreenTec also simplifies my work. But my main concern is to show the young people in the village a perspective. I want to stop them from fleeing the country and avoid everyone going to try their luck in Bamako. Why not build up something valuable right here?. Together we can do it, because we have the potential.

In fact, Djan has many plans. He would like to open an internet café with a copy shop in Sirakoro. He also wants a game store for the children and young people where they can try out games. Everyone has dreams and Djan makes us believe that they can be realised regardless of the place of birth.

Just before we leave, Djan's wife comes by. She has a round belly and must be eight months along. She is very proud of what her husband has done for his village in the last few years and wishes that their child will have the same zest for life, energy and solidarity as his father.

Home #ImpactStory Noumoukossa Bagayoko

#ImpactStory Noumoukossa Bagayoko – Perspective Through Electricity

Marie
August 05, 2020

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The Bagayokos Have Been Blacksmiths for Generations

Noumoukossa Bagayoko is a blacksmith in Dalakana, Mali. His son Soumaila (26) is sitting next to him during the interview. He, unlike his father, has attended school and supports his father in business matters. "What gave you the idea to become a blacksmith?" is our first question:
Oh, my father was a blacksmith, my father's father was a blacksmith and so I became one. Everything I know, my father taught me. These things are passed on from generation to generation. That’s the way it is here: there are different families who have been doing certain jobs like welder, blacksmith, potter, singer etc. for hundreds of years: It's something you're born into and you're respected for it.
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Electricity From Africa GreenTec Will Make Noumoukossa's Work Easier in the Future

Each generation has a different way of working and uses different equipment. Noumoukossa has been working with the same equipment for almost 40 years. For him, it is not financially possible to buy newer equipment for forging at the moment. However, he hopes to be able to change this in the future.

Rising material costs are also an issue. Metal used to be quite cheap. His father used to pay 20 cents per kilo, whereas Noumoukossa now pays 1.50 euros for a kilo. With the additional transport costs for the metal, the business is sometimes not worthwhile for him and he makes losses.

I am very much looking forward to the electricity from Africa GreenTec. Then I can forge with less effort, can work on more orders and earn more. I will definitely take the electricity; even though I don't know yet when I will be able to afford the electrical equipment.
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Plans for the Future

That is why it is all the more important for Noumoukossa and his son to get electricity. They want to move their company, which has existed for generations, forward. To develop it further. They realise that there is competition that may already have electricity. Without electricity, they cannot compete. Their vision is to expand in the next 5 to 10 years. They want to buy several electric devices and produce more. Africa GreenTec now offers them the chance to do so.

I just don't want to stand still. I am not blind. I see what friends in Djoliba can do with electricity. I want to do that too. I am good at what I do. If I had the opportunity to use electricity, I could do so much more and support my people. Sometimes I can't take orders because I don't have electricity. I want that to change.

In fact, some of the villagers travel to neighbouring villages to have certain things made there. For the future, the Bagayokos would like to be able to meet the demand for orders in the village and provide this service on a permanent basis.

He also does not want him and his 5 employees (who work as needed) to fall ill. Currently, he runs many of his devices on coal. Noumoukossa is aware that the smoke and fumes produced are harmful to health. In addition, the neighbours sometimes complain that the smoke is coming through the windows of the small workshop towards them.

Noumoukossa is content with his life. He came to Dalakana 20 years ago and has built up his own life. He has fought his way through and built up his own customer base. He is able to feed his large family, even if it is difficult at times.

Electricity Creates Prospects

Like many other people, he wants more perspectives for his life. He has a clear idea of what he wants for his future: electricity so that he can make the best use of his know-how and potential and be more productive, but the prerequisite for his vision has not been available until now. Africa GreenTec wants to support people like Noumoukossa to live their visions and thus empower them to become more self-determined and to grow.

Since December 2018, one of our Solartainers has been supplying the village of Dalakana with sustainable electricity. The interview was recorded shortly before.