8 September 2022

Circularity Tales: environmental entrepreneurship in Dakar

Environmental entrepreneurship is an appealing concept to the Senegalese youths. For a few years now, there has been an increase in projects run by young people that aim to improve sanitation, fight pollution and reduce plastic waste. However, the technical support and idea incubation available remain small. 

Willing to fill in that gap, Impact Hub Dakar implemented a circularity programme pilot, making available an opportunity for Senegalese young innovators and entrepreneurs with projects at the idea stage to develop their vision into something concrete and discover the large ecosystem of projects pertaining to their interests.

Named “Wërngël-Bi”, a term in Wolof that translates to “The Circle”, the circularity programme at Impact Hub Dakar supported different entrepreneurs carrying out projects that ranged from eco-construction to ecological toilets. The top 3 projects were qualified for funding opportunities after a Demo Day, where they had the chance to showcase the progress made during the programme.

Meet the Wërngël-Bi entrepreneurs

Josephine Tine, the co-founder of ART-Pesoung, was one of the participants of the initiative. She noticed the lack of sanitation in rural areas, and how it was affecting women and the population at large. In view of the problem, Josephine decided to start a project that consists in creating ecological toilets with soil bricks, and also methanized pits for generating biogas from human excreta. Her solutions not only improve hygiene and sanitation, but also makes wastewater treatable and ready to be used for household watering too. Josephine believes that with this innovation, issues of sanitation in rural areas can be solved while lowering the cost of living with biogas and running water.

Founder of the Cactus Innovation venture, El Hadji Malick Sagne was another participant of the programme. He wants to change how we see agriculture and imagines a world where we cultivate without pesticides or fertilisers, operating only with the natural biogas of plants. His solution is powered by innovating with cactus plants, which are transformed into biogas, then transformed into electricity thanks to a machine fueled by gas, supplying resources for the properties. 

Malick shares about how he has grown through Impact Hub Dakar’s Wërngël-Bi: “Impact Hub has promoted exchanges between entrepreneurs, giving rise to new collaborations as well as a positive climate movement. Furthermore, with the funding obtained, I can confidently develop my project”, he highlights.

Adja Aissatou Diallo, founder of Galle (which means “home” in Pulaar), has chosen the path of eco-construction. Adja wants to build houses by using renewable, biodegradable and available materials such as raw earth, straw and bamboo. These houses will also be self-sufficient by being equipped with a device for collecting rainwater, providing running tap water for the families. Thanks to the support of Impact Hub through the circularity programme, several concepts on business models have been mastered for Galle. Adja adds: “The teamwork has allowed us to see the complementarity of our projects and new relationships were born between different pillars.”

In addition, there were other two projects on the idea-stage that participated in the programme and received great support to develop into prototypes: a consultancy agency for mineral extraction with minimal environmental impact and a project for making bricks out of plastic waste.

All these projects come from the observation of real-life challenges, the desire for change and an innovative spirit, leading to economically feasible solutions and environmental sustainability. Thanks to Impact Hub Dakar, the entrepreneurs are ready to fly and further develop their businesses – and above all, they are ready to contribute to the sustainable transition from the linear to the circular economy in Senegal.

The Circularity Program is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!