Two of Text to Change’s (TTC) program managers, Jan-Willem and Arjen, travelled to Burkina Faso (Burkina for short) earlier this month to meet with potential new partners. TTC has implemented economic development projects in Burkina for over 2 years. Upon arrival they again comprehended what an amazing country Burkina is. With about half of the population still living on less than $2 a day, the nation is one of the poorest in the world. However, it turns out that the country also has an enormous potential for mobile projects and that the people have a great entrepreneurial spirit. In this blog Arjen and Jan-Willem tell all about their exciting and fruitful trip.
After landing at Ouagadougou (Ouaga for locals) airport at 9PM the first thing we noticed was the wall of heat upon exiting the plane. Our bodies, still used to the airplane air-conditioning quickly broke out into sweat. After taking care of logistics, the first challenge for us was to find the right office for our first meeting with Afrique Vert. Challenging, because in Burkina streets don’t have names and buildings are generally recognized by landmarks located close by.
During our trip we met with our partners Afrique Verte, Table Filiere de Karite (TFK) and consortium partner Connect4Change. We learned how our Vusion SMS software can help increase efficiency and productivity and we had great informative meetings. Later in the week we drove our Jeep down 160km South of Ouaga, where we met with two more agricultural partners. They showed us around, which was interesting, and we came up with new ideas on how TTC can help improve farming production and efficiency via mobile telephony. For example, partner Nununa asked us to help make data collection more effective and less error-prone. All in all, after meeting with the partners, we have a bucket load of new ideas to work on.
The Great People of Burkina
The thing that struck us most about the visit was the willingness and hands-on approach that characterizes many people in Burkina. Instead of waiting for somebody to help them reach their goals, people rather put things to their own hands and choose their own path. There is enormous potential for (social) businesses aiming at economic development of the country, which has been politically stable for the last couple of years. Mobile technology can help in this development, whether it is a more advanced way of data collection or interactive dialogues with farmers, Burkina has the potential to develop quickly in the coming years.
We very much look forward to our next visit to Burkina and have the chance to further help develop this, so far, underserved and underestimated country.