Célia Faconam Dédé
COTONOU — The Global Youth Innovation Workshop-Fair is jointly organised by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of Benin, taking place from Oct. 10 to 13 in Cotonou, the Beninois economic capital. Among those exhibiting their work are several young talents from around the world.
Ratoejanahary Mirado is a young Malagasy entrepreneur whose stand takes visitors to the exposition by storm. A model for young women in her country, Mirado runs an artisanal business which makes baskets from raffia. Cushions, baskets, boxes for storage, and decorative items are on display; the woven products are available not only in Madagascar but exported across the world.
For Mirado, the Cotonou meeting is an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with young people from elsewhere.
Lionel Nenehidini is a Beninois agro-businesman. His potato chips and local juices are arranged on his stand. His business uses locally-sourced materials to make “Senachips” which vie with imported snacks in a market where such products are fast growing more popular.
By investing in this sector, Nenehidini intends to promote local production and create job opportunities for other youth both directly in his business and as vendors of his range of merchandise.
Alejandro Riascos Castillo created a sensation at the fair’s opening, when the sounds of the traditional Colombian xylophones that he manufactures rang out. A curious public flocked to see this young man with a large smile, whose enterprise combines business and safeguarding the culture of his country.
Valentin Aitchedji is an engineer. A model of his invention is enthroned in his stand. It’s a device for determining the suitability of soil for various types of cultivation. His native Benin has adopted agriculture as a primary means to development, but smallholder farmers have in many cases not mastered the best growing practices.
His machine will help farmers to analyse the land available to them and choose their crops and methods more effectively.
The fair is a true showroom for the young engineer, whose objective is to promote his machine and perhaps find backing to mass produce it and make it available to farmers in Benin and beyond.
Forty-year-old Dieudonné Aladjodjo is the proprietor of a company called Promo Fruits Bénin. He is presenting his headline product, pineapple juice. He launched his company just over a decade ago, and is eager to share his experiences with other youth at the forum in Cotonou.
“It’s also a school for me, because there are certainly things being done elsewhere which I could learn from,” he told TerraViva.