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Aimée Abra Tenu: the face of social business in Togo

Aimée Abra Tenu1 Aimée Abra Tenu2 Aimée Abra Tenu3

To the souls nobly born, the value does not wait for the number of the years. She was only 13 years old when she was committed to problems of young people of her district. Access to education, culture, drinking water, cleaning up and environmental protection were the first missions of the young Togolese girl Aimée Abra Tenu during the creation in 2000 of the NGO STEJ TOGO (Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus).

At 28 years old, Abra is a model for Togolese and African girls. She was appointed ambassadress of Weena program with the mobile phone operator MOOV Togo of ETISALAT Group; Tenu Abra is also nominated for “Ambassadress Vlisco 2014 Prize”.

Aimée Abra Tenu embodies social business in Togo. For this ambitious young lady, no way of only making live the NGO STEJ of foreign financing. “I want to demonstrate that a local NGO can very well become autonomous if even it is just to guarantee the management fees of its structure and thus secure jobs created”, she declared in an interview granted to “Sans Frontière” Library.

The NGO STEJ opened at the beginning of March in Kpalimé (120km far from Lomé), a new recycling unit of plastics: bags and accessories. This workshop employs 8 young dressmakers and tapestry-makers, 15 women collectors and washerwomen of plastic bags, what brought to about fifty the staff of the NGO.

“We want to recycle approximately 2 million bags which are thrown and which are lying about every day in the streets of Lomé. You know, for this calculation, there are really no official public statistics. We just considered that there are approximately 2 million people in the big municipality of Lomé and surroundings so if a Togolese living in these areas consumes a bag of pure water a day, it means that there is every day 2 million bags of pure water that will be lying about. And thus, our objective is to be able to get them back. Get them back because these bags, when collected, are burnt and it is not the solution for the environment. To get them back and sew them is our way of recycling them and of re-using them daily in order to avoid at most their impact on the environment and on the health of the population.

“We started on the NGO stockholders’ equity. We managed to arrange the minimum equipment necessary for the production. We are now going to recycle up to 50.000 bags a month; we are around 300000 Fcfa of turnover a month. This helps us for the time being to cover the expenses of the workshop but still not enough to finance social projects. But we have hope and we are then looking for investors, those who believe in it and who are willing to launch into this adventure with us.”

Abra Tenu is planning to open, still in Kpalimé, her city of origin, the 1st Fruit juice bar ViViFruits and a manufacturing unit of home-made soaps in vegetable oil. The already existing soap unit has a production capacity of 3.000 bars of soap a day. Kari-Kari soaps (cleanliness in Ewe, local language of Togo) of the NGO is a home-made way and are as an additional source of income for the retailers.

Aimée Abra Tenu belongs to the list of 3 women nominated by Vlisco to share their dreams with other women. The vote still continues until March 23rd, 2014 on the www.dream.vlisco.com.  This competition is organized within the context of the celebration of Women International Day.

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