Benin Summer School 2017: Electric Motorcycles, Healthy Eating and Solar Power
Every year two of our employees volunteer to head the Benin Summer School, a social initiative organized by Materialise and Belgian charity Hubi & Vinciane. This year Matthias Floru and Christoph Hamacher had the honor of handing over university scholarships to Loth Chabi, Moussibaou Babatounde and Narcisse Koudjangnihoue!
In preparation of the Summer School, Hubi & Vinciane select about 15 students with the best high school grades in the region. During three days, these students work out the objectives and criteria for a socio-economic project they could start in Benin, and the eight most promising students are then chosen. The students then have two weeks to investigate, analyze and present their conclusions, and finally the top three performers are presented with a university scholarship.
Meet the Students
After a couple of days of acclimatization and visiting their surroundings, Matthias and Christoph officially started Summer School Benin. Meet the students of this summer!
- Stanislas Miwanou: Electric Motorcycles – Commercial Analysis
Baobab Express, a project supported by Materialise, is now the most important transportation company in Benin. The company is looking into adding electric motorbikes for short-distance travel, providing an alternative to the heavily polluting motor taxis that are currently in use in Benin. Stanislas investigated the market response to this project by questioning locals about their transportation requirements.
- Moussibaou Babatounde: Electric Motorcycles – Financial Analysis
Moussibaou investigated the financial viability of Baobab Express’s new electric motorbikes by comparing the costs and revenue of a typical motorcycle driver. He also identified some obstacles before the project could become widely adopted.
- Loth Chabi: Bananas for Every Family
Loth was tasked with coming up with a campaign to increase the consumption of bananas in Benin, as bananas are a rich natural source of fibers and nutrients. However, they aren’t eaten very often by the locals despite their abundant presence in the country – Loth set out to find out why and how he could change their minds.
- Bah – Moussé Idrissou: Banana Nursery
Bah-Moussé investigated the possibility of starting a banana plantation in the region in order to provide locals with easy access to a nutrient-rich source of food for their diets. Together with Loth’s campaign, the goal would be for each family to have a banana plant growing in their back yard.
- Diane Cakpo Awassi: Healthy Canteen Menu
Diane worked closely together with the canteen of Hospital St. Martin de Papané to ensure they served patients, employees and visitors a healthy and balanced menu. She also worked to turn the canteen into a place that could educate visitors and provide an example of what a nutritious diet should look like.
- Narcisse Koudjangnihoue: Hospital Daycare Center
This project was requested by the Hospital of St. Martin de Papané itself. Many of the staff working at the hospital have small children which they need to leave in the care of “doméstiques”, older girls who keep an eye on the children for a fee. But the doméstiques are expensive and often unreliable, meaning the staff often keep their children nearby. Narcisse investigated how to set up a daycare center at the hospital, run by two trained child carers.
- Hervé Aremou: Hospital Hygiene and Maintenance Plan
Hervé was responsible for analyzing if the Hospital of St. Martin de Papané was up to scratch in terms of hygiene and patient care. He helped to perform a complete overhaul and came up with a plan for continual maintenance which would help the hospital achieve its goal of becoming the cleanest hospital in Benin by next year.
- Boris Kamoutchoni: Solar Power
Electricity can be unreliable outside the big cities in Benin, and solar power could be a reliable alternative which would help provide more rural areas with clean energy. Boris investigated how to set up a profitable distribution model for investors, which would also be affordable for users.
Each student made impressive progress throughout the two weeks, and their projects will hopefully be the start of something bigger. But in the end, there were three who really stuck out.
Loth was extremely analytical and managed to get to the essence of his project. He also managed to completely work out a campaign to build awareness about the benefits of bananas with posters, guidelines etc. which he had already started spreading around the neighborhood. Loth will study medicine.
Moussibaou was great at mathematics and really crunched the numbers to get a workable business model for Baobab Express. In three weeks, he went from a shy introvert to a natural presenter, and also made progress in choosing a university course which would best suit his ambitions (economy).
And last but certainly not least, Narcisse performed a very good analysis of the daycare center for the Hospital of St. Martin de Papané. He proved to be a great listener to the needs of everyone involved, worked out how the daycare center could be financially viable and presented an extremely complete case which the hospital could immediately use to decide if they wanted to start the project or not. The project also made him realize that he loves taking care of people and children – he went from wanting to study economy, to studying to become a nurse.
We wish the finalists good luck in their studies, and look forward to seeing what next year’s group of students will achieve!