*This article was originally published in the monthly newsletter of the USAID/ACCES project’s August newsletter. The project is implemented by Natural Resources Consulting Engineers (NRCE), with partners PSI and CRS.
By Oumou Amadou Gadio and Jeanne Margot Sambou.
USAID’s ACCES project takes you from Matam to Zinguinchor to meet two entrepreneurial project sales agents who decided to start toilet businesses of their own.
Alassane Barry: A Versatile Entrepreneur
51-year-old Alassane Barry lives in the village of Falo Barka in the commune of Bokidiawé in Matam region. He’s a husband and father of 12 children and has worked for the USAID/ACCES project as a commercial sales agent since 2018, finding customers for masons trained by the project to install toilets.
While Barry saw a lot of potential in the sanitation market, he felt more could be done to serve customers and increase demand. “We faced many difficulties as commercial agents, such as failure of masons to meet construction deadlines (which led some customers to cancel their orders), areas that were hard to access, and masons who lacked the liquidity to purchase materials for new jobs,” Barry explained. “These reasons convinced me to find an alternative and become an entrepreneur.”
From that point on, Barry hired and trained his own workers, bought his construction materials and supervised the work and collected payment himself from his clients. Since Barry became an entrepreneur, construction deadlines for latrines that his clients ordered have all been met. Since 2018 he has sold 375 latrines.
Thanks to these new efforts, Barry’s income has also increased. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he had trouble paying for his daily expenses. But this has become just a bad memory—his income has increased by 56%, and he now has enough income to guarantee his own expenses and his family’s.
With this new money, Barry has been able to purchase two sheep and a cow and has begun breeding livestock as well. “[The USAID/ACCES] project has opened up many opportunities for me. If the project ends, I’ll continue this work because it makes me a happy breadwinner,” he explains.
Dieynaba Diallo, a satisfied client who lives in the village of Diolo, states:
“At the beginning when I had visitors, I was stressed because I didn’t have any latrines in my home. Alassane informed me of the risks associated with the lack of latrines and the consequences of open-air defecation. He convinced me and sold me a latrine. Today, I’m proud to welcome strangers into my home, and even better, my family’s dignity is respected. The Sagal latrine is beautiful and well-made. Today, with my Sagal latrine, I live with my family in good, hygienic and healthy conditions. Alassane also informed me during the interview that I should clean the latrines regularly. With the coronavirus, he also made me aware of handwashing with soap and water to effectively avoid the virus but also to respect protective measures.”
Mamadou COLY: An entrepreneur with many hats
Mamadou Coly lives in the village of Diengue, which is in the Bignona department of the Ziguinchor region. He is father to five children and has been a commercial agent for the ACCES project since October 2018.
“Over time, I became passionate about these commercialization activities for latrines, which have allowed me to better take care of my family financially. So, I decided to become an entrepreneur as well and I built a team, which included a mason, a digger and a molder. The mason had been trained by the project on construction techniques,” said Mamadou.
Mamadou has sold 82 latrines since his recruitment. As an entrepreneur, Mamadou ensures supply as well as demand, continues to prospect for sales and also organizes work sites for his team.
“I am part of the process from beginning to end. The project gave me a set of ten SaTo pans [to sell] to help me [earn some money to buy my first set of] materials. The revenue generated by these sales has also allowed me to buy construction materials like hammer, a wheelbarrow and a trowel,” Mamdou describes. To reinforce his new entrepreneurial skills, ACCES trained him on toilet rehabilitation techniques and on problem-based sales techniques that have allowed him to find more customers.
This proud entrepreneur is now innovating in the sanitation marketplace, making latrines available to vulnerable populations that don’t have enough cash on hand to buy a toilet. Mamdou trained twenty women from the villages of Baghagha Tobor and Djilaogué on how they could collectively save their money and take small loans to purchase latrines.
Very engaged and available, Mamdou is recognized in his village as resourceful and essential to raising awareness for the well-being of his community. He was even chosen by his commune’s mayor to help raise awareness for and communicate about activities surrounding universal health coverage. A man of many hats!
Banner photo caption: Mamadou Coly visiting clients. Credit: USAID/ACCES.