Interview of Murielle Diaco by Spore Magazine, online media of the CTA (Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation), specialized in agribusiness, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Djouman is a member of the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN) which promotes “new forms of economic production and consumption that maintain and regenerate their environmental resources”. Interview with its founder, Murielle Diaco.
Launched in 2016, the Djouman platform – “to work” in the Akan language (Ivory Coast) – brings together African startups and investors who want to initiate projects together around sustainable development and innovation in Africa. Its CEO, Murielle Diaco, explains the objectives of her company.
The circular economy has always been present in Africa. Many practices are rooted in African societies, such as African societies, such as the sober use of raw materials, the reuse of reuse of products, or the tontines which are part of the participative part of the participatory economy (a system oriented towards the mutualization and and sharing of knowledge and services). Today, Africa is in an in-between situation. The global trend is towards “Westernization”. We to the consumerist economy, to mass production and consumption. production and consumption. There is a lot of pressure on African populations and their leaders to consume more There is a lot of pressure on African populations and their leaders to consume more and in a linear way. It is all the more difficult all the more difficult because we are in an internationalized world, so the big industrial groups of the food industry or other sectors arrive in Africa with these devastating models. The difficulty is to The difficulty is to present other development models that are more inclusive, more sustainable. But people have the impression that they are prevented from knowing what developed countries know. developed countries. So there is a pedagogical job to be done to explain that we are not obliged to develop like the Europeans or Asians. Europeans or Asians. So we explain that it is a question of drawing on what we know how to do. The development towards a more sustainable future is done unfortunately, all the more so as there are no clearly identified driving forces, and with clearly identified driving forces, with enough power, that lead the march towards sustainability. towards sustainability.
Many permaculture and agroecology projects are emerging. We are starting again with an imitation of ecosystems, instead of monoculture models. These projects use endemic plant species that consume few resources. Throughout Africa, associations and small businesses have developed agroecology projects. They have coupled ancestral knowledge with innovative methods that allow, for example, the reuse of production residues to make improved compost or to process crops. For example, in Benin, the Gardens of Hope, an incubator for agricultural projects with educational and production farms, has developed a compost based on rice residues called Bokashi. In South Africa, there are initiatives to ensure food security in the slums where people grow their own produce. The objective here is to empower these populations.
My main motivation was to empower Africans. I started from the observation that there are a lot of projects that go in the direction of creating more sustainable development in development in Africa. But these projects are quickly limited because they But these projects are quickly limited because they lack connections with global networks, funding and skills. The idea, with Djouman, is to bring all this to actors who are already doing interesting things in the field. interesting things on the ground. We want to put them in a network: in sub-Saharan Africa, the countries face relatively similar development problems, so the idea development problems, so the idea is that these African actors can exchange African actors can exchange and feed off each other to have more impact. have more impact.
Concerning our vision of the future, we have also chosen to engage in training projects for young people. We believe that the new generations have a lot of challenges to face and that we must help them integrate, from the conception of their project, the issues that will allow for sustainable development: taking into account the societal and environmental impacts of the activities they wish to engage in, as well as the economic profitability. We want to give these generations the keys to take charge of their lives (create their own income-generating activities through entrepreneurship) and carry out actions that will forge a more liveable future for everyone. We do this through our AgroBootCamp training camps in agroecology and green entrepreneurship.
Policy makers are aware that we can no longer afford to exhaust all are aware that we can no longer afford to exhaust all resources, to do hyper-intensive resources, to do hyper-intensive agriculture… The move to action is slower to set up. slower to take action.
The idea, for us, is therefore to encourage them to set regulatory frameworks that push industry to take their impacts and to take their impacts and responsibilities more into account. Everywhere the world, consumers have power and can put pressure on big brands to change brands to change their sourcing or production methods. or production methods. We can see that it works. We must rely on the actors of civil society society to be a force of proposal and to bring political decision-makers to impose to impose binding frameworks. Without constraints, nothing happens.
Also, it is necessary to highlight the responsible, positive, sustainable and well-functioning initiatives, such as all those companies of the green and social business (with a minimum of negative impact on the environment, society and economy) or slow food business (based on local production or consumption). We need to create a dialogue between all stakeholders – private and public sectors, associations – to find transitional solutions towards a sustainable development.
Article originally appeared on spore magazine on July 23, 2019.