Awa Koné (40) sets off for her restaurant as she does every afternoon. Friendly faces smile at her and greet her. Awa wants to advance her village. Therefore she decided some time ago to open a small restaurant in Djoliba, where she offers different dishes for her guests every day. Whether rice with chicken, plantains, pasta or yams, there is something for every taste.
Due to the flow of Africa GreenTec she is able to sell also in the evenings and especially to attract the young people with the music of her shop.
She now even has two employees who support her in cooking, cleaning and guest service. Up to five visitors fit into her shop and it is very busy in the evening hours.
We asked her why it was important to her to open a restaurant.
Awa has been selling since she was 15 years old. So she learned early to assert herself as an independent saleswoman. Depending on the season she sold mangos or oranges to the people in the village. Before she started with the restaurant, she sold fish, like her sister. However, as the number of local fish drastically decreased, the sale of fish no longer represented a reliable source of income. This was one of the reasons to open her restaurant.
Since 3 years she has been buying solar power from Africa GreenTec and has become a very satisfied regular customer. Before, most people only picked up their food to eat it at home; since she has light in the evening and can also play music, it invites many people to stay especially in the evening. People still sit together until late at night, eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. According to Awa, the electricity has generally brought more life into the village. Moreover, the bright lamps scare off the mosquitoes, which is another advantage.
It was interesting to learn that Awa always cooks with fire, although she herself notes that this is often tedious as the way to collect firewood is quite long and the load of firewood often causes her back pain. Moreover, she can’t carry everything alone and therefore has to spend additional money for the transport.
In Djoliba the trees are getting fewer and fewer, because the wood is also needed by many others for cooking. Awa also sees deforestation as a big problem. If there was the possibility to switch to biogas, for example, she would consider it.
In order to be able to support her husband financially better and also to be more independent as a woman, she started the business a few years ago. While she is working, her eldest daughter now looks after the younger siblings. For the future of her children she wishes that they can go to school unlike her. Therefore she works hard and if one of her children would take over the restaurant later, she would be very happy.
The restaurant brings her respect and appreciation in the whole village. Sometimes it happens that Awa cooks more than she actually sells. Then she gives the rest away to the people who can use it well. Of course people are grateful and trust her for this. Sometimes she even acts as a “small bank”. The villagers trust her money because they know that Awa handles it responsibly.
Also Fatomata Ongoiba (18), who has been working for Awa for 2 1/2 years now and supports her actively, appreciates her boss and can imagine to take over the restaurant once Awa stops working.
All customers describe Awa as a very courteous and reliable woman who works hard and – most importantly – cooks very delicious food! Every Thursday and Sunday Awa goes to Bamako to buy her ingredients at the market. Due to the large quantities, the journey to the capital is worthwhile.
Awa is a member of a women’s association, with whose help she was able to raise the necessary start-up capital for the restaurant. Each of the 50 women in the association pays the same amount of money into a common pot every month and at the end of the month one of the women is chosen by lot and receives the money. This way she was able to work out the start of her restaurant on her own.
Today she plans to expand the shop. Her assortment is to be expanded and she wants to offer cold drinks as well. Following her example, other people in the village have also opened new restaurants, as they have seen how Awa’s life has changed and how she is enriching her village. Some are also envious of her, but Awa is not bothered by this.
But business is not always easy: food prices fluctuate greatly and if she doesn’t sell enough in one day, it can be financially difficult for her. Therefore she takes care of herself and puts some money aside as best she can.
Awa definitely wants to grow her business, but bank loans and other financial support are a little difficult to get in the village.
The electricity she has at her disposal thanks to Africa GreenTec has enriched Awa’s life and changed it for the better. She hopes to be able to give something back to her community through the restaurant and to enable future generations to lead a better and self-determined life.
If you would like to see more people like Awa, who take their destiny into their own hands and are successful in doing so, please join us and become part of our work.
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