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Youth WASH entrepreneurship in Banfora

Published on: 19/01/2021

Young women and men in Banfora are participating in an incubation programme to become successful WASH entrepreneurs.

Young women and men in Banfora are participating in an incubation programme to become successful WASH entrepreneurs.
Young entrepreneurs in front of Burkina Faso's Chamber of Commerce (Photo I. Boreaud)

Ten business projects are being supported by the Banfora municipality, with the help of its partners, IRC, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Espace Culturel Gambidi (ECG), for the implementation of a new incubation programme for young people with innovative projects in the field of water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH). This is done under the supervision of "Sira Labs", a business incubator based in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso. The aim of the initiative is to strengthen the employability of young people and facilitate universal access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation services in the commune of Banfora. At the current stage of the incubation process, 30 candidates have been selected and trained. The training ended with the presentation of a certificate after visiting the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Burkina Faso, on 30 December 2020, where they combined theory with practice.

Supporting and strengthening the participation of the local population in improving the management of water and sanitation services is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to enable developing countries such as Burkina Faso to achieve universal access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030. 

To ensure the effective implementation of its WASH strategic plan the Banfora district, in collaboration with IRC, has therefore identified a real opportunity to set up a programme specifically designed for youth entrepreneurship in the WASH sector. For that purpose, an incubation workshop was held from 21 to 22 November 2019 for young people in Banfora district, with the aim of stimulating their entrepreneurial spirit so that they can contribute to achieving the SDGs by 2030. 

Once contact had been established with the people concerned, a meeting was held between the municipality of Banfora, IRC and its other associated partners to exchange and share ideas, in order to prepare the call for applications but also to outline the procedures to be followed. As such, Espace Culturel Gambidi, in component C of its Saniya So+ project, has planned to improve women's income and promote entrepreneurship, following a holistic approach at various levels. And Catholic Relief Services through its Saniya So project, has started capacity building for health workers in chlorine production, an initiative that could be extended to young entrepreneurs.  This collaboration reflects IRC's ambition to work in synergy with all the other actors in Banfora. “We don't want to put forward the implementers, but rather the achievements and especially the achievement of the objectives through our joint actions”. These are the words of IRC's WASH Governance Expert, Richard Bassono, which highlights the institution's aspirations.

All the partners that replied to the call to exchange on the progress of the youth incubation programme (Photo NR. Zohoun)

Following a careful selection process, 30 projects, out of the 53 applications submitted, and having obtained a minimum score of 13 out of 20, were selected and benefited from a series of training sessions, individual and group workshops and coaching, from 27 November to 30 December 2020. The national and local context of the WASH sector, the development of a business plan, market research and competitiveness, the construction of the business model, the process of registering the company with CEFORE, were dealt with during these trainings and workshops. It culminated in a visit to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Burkina Faso, for information on the registration of companies.

The candidates of the 30 pre-selected projects have been strengthened in their capacity to develop, set up and implement a project (Photo B. Paré)

The young people in the Cascades region involved in this initiative, did not fail to express their satisfaction during the handing out of their certificates of completion of training on Wednesday 30 December 2020. They feel they now have the necessary capacity, know-how and information to enable them to effectively develop their projects with a view to starting their own business.  At the end of this phase, the projects developed will be submitted to an ad hoc jury for assessment. The 10 best projects will be selected for an intensive training course which will lead to the selection of the three best business plans, that will be supported within the framework of the incubation. 

The young people have received their certificates of completion of the training (Photo I. Boreaud)

This innovative approach is based on the know-how and expertise of "Sira Labs", with the support of IRC, in order to offer a rich, relevant and complete support, as well as a tailor-made course of quality on roadmap creation, coaching and training.

« You are giving the young people of our municipality the opportunity to assert themselves. This programme is in line with the objectives of the municipality to promote young people. We would like to thank IRC, ECG, CRS and all our partners for their interest and their actions for the benefit of our municipality », said Souleymane Sirima, head of financial affairs, on behalf of the town hall of Banfora.