African start-up of the week: the Burkinabe Nafa Naana democratizes solar lamps and gas stoves
From its modest premises in Ouagadougou, the young shoot revolutionizes access to solar lamps, precious for many homes without electricity, and to gas stoves, which replace the harmful combustion of wood or charcoal usual in kitchens. At the head of the company, whose model is close to profitability, a Burkinabè in his thirties: Sayouba Guira.
Nafa Naana, or in the local Dioula language “profit has arrived”, is a social enterprise, supervised and funded by the NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde since its very beginnings in 2010. Its model consists in promoting and distributing energy-efficient household equipment to the poorest households, whose incomes are below the poverty line of 234 euros per year and per adult in Burkina Faso.
It is positioned in the context of the shortage of electricity and the ultra-majority use for cooking (87% of Burkinabè households according to Entrepreneurs du Monde) of wood or charcoal stoves. To limit the shortage of electricity, it sells solar lamps. And to stem the harmful effects (respiratory and circulatory diseases) induced by traditional combustion, it distributes at least improved stoves that limit the consumption of wood, and ideally stoves and gas stoves.
A bet that the start-up, present for the moment in three regions of Burkina Faso – Center, Hauts-Bassins and South-West – seems to have partially won, in view of the enthusiasm aroused by these products sold at low prices. The number of household objects distributed increased from 4,596 in 2013 to 11,040 in 2015, i.e. 36,950 items of equipment placed since the start of its activity. This brings the company to claim 60,000 beneficiaries and plans to further expand its coverage of the country in 2017.
She will thus settle in Koudougou (Center-Ouest) then in Dédougou (Boucle du Mouhoun). Areas where Nafa Naana will be able to implement the “microfranchised” system which she has set up. Through this network, around fifty people are already responsible for the sale of Nafa Naana branded household equipment.
Beatrice Ouedarogo, 44, is one of them. It distributes the products in the Karpala district, east of the capital. With a clientele estimated at no more than 700 housewives, she admits that credit sales are the strongest.
Less strenuous household chores
“Many of my clients come back to tell me that with this equipment, they now save time in household tasks. Likewise, complaints of eye pain have decreased significantly, ”she notes.
Good returns for Nafa Naana who estimates having saved nearly 66,000 tonnes of wood thanks to her equipment and enabled beneficiary households to make a cumulative gain of 2.8 billion CFA francs.
“Nafa Naana is in a growth phase,” said company director Sayouba Guira. For the time being, the annual budget of 350,000 euros is provided by Entrepreneurs du Monde, but Nafa Naana is constantly improving her own income. The company achieved a turnover of 168 million CFA francs in 2015 (252,000 euros) and projects 200 million in 2016. This covers 60% of expenses. The turnover was 86,000 euros in 2013.
Among the products that make it famous, especially among housewives in Ouagadougou, there are improved multi-pot cooking stoves, with a stove suitable for several sizes of pots, which saves 30% of fuel. Or the “Ouaga Métallique” which promises to cut wood consumption in half.
They are sold between 3,000 and 27,000 F CFA, when gas stoves are sold between 15,000 and 60,000 F CFA and solar lamps between 5,500 and 28,000 F CFA. At the level still above, solar kits, which provide basic power to isolated or off-grid sites. It takes 75,000 to 300,000 CFA francs to equip it.
Payment facilities vis-à-vis customers and suppliers
To allow purchases, whose prices would otherwise be prohibitive, the Nafa Naana offer is coupled with payment facilities for customers and suppliers. “Our offer consists of a 30% advance to acquire the equipment, and the rest is settled in three monthly installments,” says Sayouba Guira.
In terms of manufacturing improved cooking stoves and metal structures for stoves, it is subcontracted to local craftsmen. This is not the case for solar lamps and kits which are bought in China by Entrepreneurs du Monde, and burners and gas cylinders which are imported. “We are constantly in great need of working capital,” said the young economist. Which sets a course: “the viability and balance of the accounts that we want to achieve in 2019”.