In June 2022, the Institut International d'Ingénierie de l'Eau et de l'Environnement (2iE) on behalf of the Nexus Regional Dialogues (NRD) Programme in the Niger Basin led a Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus Bootcamp at the 2iE campus in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The objective of the bootcamp was to provide training and individual coaching for the participants to further develop their business and link them with potential investors.
The competition was open to any small and medium enterprise (SME) which has been in business for more than two years and whose main promoter is a citizen or resident of the member states of Niger Basin Authority.
Out of the 160 applicants, 12 entrepreneurial projects from the (NBA) member states were selected to take part in the week-long bootcamp. The top 5 entrepreneur finalists won the chance take part in a 9-month long acceleration program which aims to further develop their business, as well as to connect them with public and private investors interested in financing WEF Nexus-related start-ups.
Meet the participants
Here are the five start-ups (presented in alphabetical order of the company name):
- Agro-Eco Services
Noël OBOGNON is a young entrepreneur-researcher expert in soil fertilisation and plant nutrition from Benin. In 2019, this young man of 31 years old founded the cooperative company AGRO-ECO SERVICES (AES) specialised in the production of organic fertilisers using Black Fly Soldiers and reducing the composting time to 12 days. This innovation provides an answer to the problem of declining agricultural yields and soil fertility in Africa through a clever combination of biochar/fertiliser and urban organic waste management. Marketed under the "Maggot-Compost" label, the fertilizer produced retains water and minerals necessary for the plant and sustainably fertilizes the soil and increases the yield of producers. Through this innovative project, AES has won the Young Innovative Entrepreneur Award in Land Restoration organised by The Land Accelerator in Kenya in 2021; it is the winner of the Challenge des 1'000 of the Africa-France Summit in Bordeau in 2020; of the Young Innovative Entrepreneur Award of West Africa organised by RUFORUM in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2019; and the winner of the 1000 Young Entrepreneurs of Africa competition organised by the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2019. The vision of AES by 2030 is to make African countries and Sahelian countries in particular, agricultural countries based on a rational, healthy and sustainable exploitation of their soils, thus contributing to the development of agricultural producers, the protection of the environment, the nutritional, economic and socio-cultural well-being of its populations.
- Clean Energy Services
Triomphant TCHULANG is a design engineer in Renewable Energies, an African player in the energy transition and a specialist in photovoltaic and solar thermal energy. After graduating from the École Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique de Maroua in the Sahelian region of Cameroon, he embarked on entrepreneurship and in 2015, alongside his friends, created Clean Energy Services, a company specialising in the design, installation and maintenance of solar systems. He and his team developed the first ever PVT (Photothermal or Bisolar-Tech Fridge) solar refrigerator model without a storage battery, in order to meet the need for cold storage of food, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products (e.g. Astrazeneca) in isolated areas 24 hours a day. This innovation has enabled it to be a finalist at the Sustainable Energy for ALL (SE4ALL) in 2021, to win the DOW CHALLENGE in 2021 in Dakar, to be the winner of the challenge of 1000 African entrepreneurs in 2020 and to obtain the Jury's Favourite Award at the grand final in Paris of the EDF PULSE AFRICA Award 2019.
- Green Business
Zakari IDRISSA ABDOU is a young Nigerien entrepreneur, 32 years old, who graduated from the UAM of Niamey in Geoscience and Environment. In response to the proliferation of water hyacinth on the Niger River and the disappearance of aquatic fauna, he founded Green Business Consulting in 2020, a startup company producing and marketing green charcoal for cooking, bio-char and biological fertilizer by pyrolysis of water hyacinth. Through this project, Green Business Consulting contributes to the preservation of the Niger River, the reforestation and improvement of soil fertility in Niger and the protection of groundwater. Through the production of green charcoal, the project will partly meet the energy needs of households.
Gbadé KOIVOGUI is a young Guinean entrepreneur and designer. Gbadé graduated in 2018 with a Master's degree in Electronics and Embedded Systems from the Kofi Annan University of Guinea. From the beginning of his career, Gbadé has focused on issues of technology transfer and tropicalised energy solutions. From 2017 to 2018, he held the position of Technical and Innovation Manager at Magoe Technologie SARL. In May 2019, he decided to set up his own business and became co-founder of MOONSOFT Bio, a startup that valorises recycled materials (plastics and scrap metal) in the design and manufacture of smart bio digesters. Through this project, MOONSOFTBio offers households and collective catering establishments a system for managing their biodegradable waste, substitutes charcoal with methane for clean and sustainable cooking and promotes aquaponics and urban agriculture through the production of liquid and solid fertilisers.
Originally from Chad, Djekourbouayom NGARNANG is a young entrepreneur specialising in the sociology of populations and development. Sensitized at a very young age to the social and environmental challenges faced by the Chadian population, he participates alongside communal associations and organizations in raising awareness and supporting vulnerable and internally displaced populations. In 2018, he created with friends the Association of Young Volunteers for Development and Environment within which they carry out voluntary activities in favour of the environment and the socio-economic development of young people. In the absence of an integrated waste management system in Chadian municipalities, the AJEVODE initiative will soon be replaced by the Service d'Assainissement et de Ville Propre (SAVIP). Through the collection, transport and recovery of waste (plastic and organic), SAVIP aims to support town halls in their sanitation policy, to participate in raising awareness among the population, and to offer alternative products such as composts, feed, charcoal and paving stones. These solutions make it possible to clean up people's living environments, stop the spread of waterborne diseases, reduce the ecological footprint of human activities and contribute to poverty reduction.
Stay tuned for the next artice in this series which will highlight the activities carried out by the finalists during their first month in the acceleration programme.