Wudzralé is a small Togolese village of 270 inhabitants, 1.5 hours from the capital, Lomé.
What struck us in this village? People live there on less than $1 a day, but we did not notice it.
Why? Because they have developed such an extraordinary sense of solidarity and mutual aid. The inhabitants truly moved us through their will to change, learn and develop. Everything is possible for a villager of Wudzralé.
We went there; we did not forget them. And we are determined to help them.
What do they need? A stable and sustainable economic activity which would generate enough profit to fulfill their basic needs, particularly to finance their elementary school. At the moment, the villagers cannot even pay €30 a month - corresponding to the salary of the two teachers of the primary school. Yet, what is €30 worth to us?
We want to help the village to develop by itself. We do not want to assist them nor directly give them the money to pay for the teachers. We believe that a sustainable dynamic can and must be initiated.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” What a surprise to hear that from the Village Chief himself! No doubt, we see things the same way.
The village needs a stable and sustainable economic activity to kick-start its development dynamic. We need the little brook that will make the great river! And that little brook is a grain mill.
Why a mill?
All the right conditions already exist there for the mill to become the cornerstone of a sustainable ecosystem.
What are these conditions?
1. Corn flour is the basis of the villagers’ diet. With a consumption of 2 kg of corn flour per family and per week, we know for sure that the mill will be widely used by Wudzralé’s inhabitants, and also by the farmers from the surrounding area. Hence, it will generate a regular and consistent income.
2. A qualified miller already lives in the village, ready to oversee the mill. One thing is missing: the work tool...
3. The village has already thought about the mill’s management. It will be the property of the Villagers’ Development Committee, which will manage and watch over it.
What is its interest?
The interest is twofold:
1. Women’s living conditions will be significantly improved in the village since they will not have to walk 4 miles to mill their corn in other villages.
2. It would also help finance the school and the teachers. The children would have a teacher all year long - needless to say that it will improve their education. Later, the mill would generate enough profit to finance other development projects for the village: building a health center, walls for the school, electrify the village, etc.
How will the mill generate profit?
One must pay to use the mill. Every bowl (approx. 1 kg) costs €0.23 ($0.31) to mill. Based on the forecast revenues and spending, we have calculated a profit of €86€ ($100) per month, after the salaries of the two school teachers have been paid!
Why are we going to make it work?
We are a team of 7 engineering students from the Ecole des Ponts ParisTech in France, the world's oldest civil engineering school. We are particularly interested in and moved by the problems of development in developing countries. We all have the same motto motivating us: the development should come from the populations themselves. We initiated this social entrepreneurship project with the will to rethink the way humanitarian aid is done.
Left to right : Benjamin, Hélène, Thomas, Mathilde, Sarah, Jean-Baptiste, Roukaya
From May 4th to 13th, we went to Togo to the small village of Wudzralé. There, we shared with the villagers and the children about safety and education. We observed, listened, talked and shared with all the stakeholders to better understand their needs and expectations, using methods of design thinking, taught to us by the Paris-Est d.school at Ecole des Ponts.
With the Villagers’ Development Committee, we identified several leads to develop the village, and looked for a sustainable and stable economic solution to help the school as well as the village’s other development projects.
The goal is not only to put the mill in the village and hope for it to work well, automatically. Our desire is to work with this village over several years. This opportunity was made possible by the Paris Est d.school, with which we are working to create a new Master’s project centered on social entrepreneurship.
As soon as this summer, we are going back to Wudzralé for 3 and a half weeks to create several projects: a water pump for the village well, and several blocks of dry toilets, one of them especially dedicated to the school. We have already raised funds for these projects and functional prototypes have been made (cf FAQ for more information).
If we get to collect the necessary funds, we will also install the mill for this summer. Meanwhile, only €4100 separates us from this goal.
And to reach it, we need you.