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Q&A with Mamadou Gaye, author of case study: Wind, Water for Life (VEV) (Senegal)

Mamadou Gaye is a PhD candidate of Regional Development at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi Canada. He was awarded the Canadian International Development Agency Scholarship. Previously, Mamadou was the Director of the Graduate Programs at the African Institute of Management (AIM) in Dakar, Senegal, and Director of International Relations. In 2007, he became a member of the Academy of Management of the US. He is in charge of the international MBA at AIM. After participating in international meetings and initiatives funded by UNDP, GBSN, AABS, ICF, ICBE and Trust Africa, he is convinced of the importance and need of African private sector, business schools and universities to enhance case method approaches. He has written six case studies in Francophone West Africa for UNDP in 2006-2007. Mamadou undertook his graduate studies in resource economics in Moscow, Russia, with a specialization in project management (MSc). Awarded a scholarship from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), he finished a master’s degree in organization management at the University of Quebec, Rimouski.  Mamadou speaks French, Wolof, English, Spanish and Russian.

Wind, Water for Life (Du Vent, de l’Eau pour la Vie- VEV) a small company in Senegal providing long-term repairs for the wind pumps installed by LVIA in the 130 villages where LVIA had also set up community water management committees to make sure that they would have the capacity to collect money for water sold and ultimately pay for repairs and maintenance.

Case study developed with financial support from the United Nations Environment Programme.

To download the VEV case study from the GIM database, please click here.

What is VEV’s basic value proposition and what makes its financial model sustainable?

Its value proposition is a low-cost local way to repair water pumps and provide clean water to an entire community. Its model is sustainable because they make the pieces locally with scrap metal and offer financing to their customers.

What have been the biggest challenges hindering VEV’s development and growth?

The biggest challenge has been expansion in the number of villages. The NGO did the initial work and payment of the pump installation. VEV must continue to grow the number of villages with wind pumps or it will be difficult for them to grow. This requires time, efforts and strategy on VEV’s part and also finances on the part of the villages, which they do not sustain at this time.

What are the main challenges in terms of access to water for the poor in Senegal and also more broadly in developing countries?

-Lack of financial resources in rural areas of Africa (Senegal)
-Lack of appropriate state policy to sustain local development and enhance governance in rural Africa
-Pace of urbanization and growing difficulties to take care of urban areas like capital cities
-Lack of information about renewable energy development and water supply

What are the promises in terms of human development of the VEV solution?

-Increased health through clean water and water to wash with as well as eating vegetables from the vegetable garden
-Increased income generation from garden vegetables and other crops
-Increased local capacity through water management and VEV staff trainings

What was your personal experience going through the GIM training and case research process?

Since my first interaction with GIM in 2006, I have understood that there is a big difference in talking about development and issues related to inclusive business around the world and the UNDP which is just going and digging deeper into that matter. I have gain maturity in how to approach locally sustainable development issues in poor African countries and that has made me aware of a big need in governance which will give space and room to the poor to create value for all. I am just happy and excited since I have been involved with the UNDP GIM Team since the beginning. The learning is huge because now I could anytime exchange with actors in the field and give business advice to companies, state agencies, NGOs, communities, decision makers and international partners in ways in which human sustainable development and social entrepreneurship activities should be rethought and implemented in poor African countries. I also got hold of what should really be an inclusive business. It is not being part of a research team but also understand on the ground how business should be done and what are the main roles of each actor in a country, region, space or territory to be in a win-win situation where humanity gets along with business sustainability.

Mamadou GAYE, PhD candidate in regional development, The University of Québec at Chicoutimi, Canada.