Profile: Check Traoré, Nafa Naana – Winner, West Africa

Nafa Naana - Check photoWhat is your off-grid energy business? Can you give a brief overview? How long have you been working on this business?

Nafa Naana is a social business making clean and affordable energy products available to the poorest households of Burkina Faso. Nafa Naana implements an innovative business model, which combines a microfranchise approach to an adapted microcredit scheme: we develop marketing and financial solutions to strengthen distribution channels for clean and affordable cookstoves, LPG stoves and solar lamps and solar home systems, while stimulating demand. As of today, Nafa Naana has sold more than 50,000 energy-efficient products through a network of 60 microfranchised retailers and more than 100 key accounts (community-based women organizations, associations and federations)It’s a good organization because it helps poor people to equip themselves. I have started working Nafa Naana in December 2013..

What inspired you to start working in off-grid energy?  Are there any key people who inspired you to work in this area?

It’s a personal choice to help poor population. Nafa Naana offers solutions to contribute to poor people standards of living improvement. Also, we work with many women who live in difficult situations. Offering them to have better conditions of living is a pleasure for me. I am inspired by the people who are in need and with whom I interact in villages.

Have you lived in a off-grid community?  What is something you want people with reliable energy to know about growing up off-grid?

I have lived in a off-grid community when I was young. Today, I know the consequences on health, environment and the economic situation of people living in off-grid due to energy precariousness. So I want all the people of Burkina Faso living in off-grid communities be aware of these consequences and the solution that do exist to fight against energy precariousness.

What are the main things you have learned while working as an entrepreneur in off-grid energy? Your biggest success and biggest failure? Key epiphanies or turning points?

I have learned that I really contributing to the improvement of our beneficiaries, the protection of the environment. I also contribute to allow women to run revenue generating activities. I finally learned that selling high quality energy products really helps people.

My biggest success is FADESFSO. It is a federation of women associations in the Southwest of Burkina Faso, precisely in Dano. Almost 20,000 women are involved in the activities of FADEFSO. We have been distributing energy-efficient products with FADEFSO for three years now. We have already distributed more than 3,000 products together.

My biggest failure is the fact that I cannot help everybody. The needs are everywhere but it is so difficult to work in all areas.

What has surprised you most about working as an off-grid energy entrepreneur?

I have been surprised by the involvement of the population in the distribution of the products.  They really care and listen to the message we give them. Also the fact of working with vulnerable people is so precious to our social business. We are recognized by many people by our protective actions. We receive a lot of thanks from our beneficiaries.

What has been most difficult/most rewarding?

The most difficult part of my experience is prospection in new areas to reach more potential beneficiaries. It requires a lot of effort since running activities implies a lot of challenges. For instance villages are difficult to access due to the fact that roads are not well-developed. But I always feel proud when I reach villages and see the smile and happiness on the faces of our beneficiaries who receive their stoves or solar lamps.

If you could share some wisdom with yourself 3 years ago, what would it be?

I would have given more attention and training to distributors and end-users so that the recovery of money would have been more effective. Important losses would been avoided today.

Where do you hope to be 3 years from now?

I hope the environmental impact of my actions would be increased through cooperation with various organizations involved and working for the protection of environment.

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