Circular Economy & Entrepreneurship Education in Dakar and The Netherlands

#CoCreateDAKAR brings Dutch and Senegalese students together in an innovation bootcamps to co-develop circular and innovative solutions for real and concrete waste challenges of the city of Dakar.

Circular Economy & Entrepreneurship Education
A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Shifting the system involves everyone and everything: businesses, governments, and individuals; our cities, our products, and our jobs.

This project aims to expand the understanding of the circular economy and learn how the concept can be applied to different parts of the economy. The program challenges both communities in Dakar and The Netherlands to look beyond boundaries and find that our differences can make ideas better. The entrepreneurial learning experience offers an opportunity to work on complex societal challenges such as the circular economy. As there are no no one-size-fits-all solutions. In addition, entrepreneurship education is not solely about starting businesses. Hence, the entrepreneurial mind-set is useful both for talented individuals who want to start a business or become self-employed, but also for those who intend to be an employee in private or public organisations, and also for those seeking an academic career. In this way, both the process and the outcome can be impactful in their own way.

#CoCreateDAKAR 2021 - Introduction vision, objectives, outcome, output
In an increasingly interconnected world, young minds can act on innovation much faster than before. #CoCreateDAKAR connects interdisciplinary students in The Netherlands and Senegal and unlocks their potential by offering a high paced design sprint to develop meaningful ideas together with key local stakeholders from the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Starting point for this design sprint are local waste challenges that are presented to our group of interdisciplinary students by governmental institutions. Rapid urbanisation and the explosive growth of Dakar, necessitates an approach that is regenerative, and an economy that supports both the growing population and the natural resources on which they depend. Our program aims at contributing to the transition to a circular economy, by designing smart/innovative solutions that bring together talented Senegalese youth, inspiring start-up companies, and the complementary skills and competences of Dutch students and private sector actors.

Our main focus is to facilitate the knowledge exchange between Senegalse and Dutch students and develop the necessary problem solving capacity to solve circular economy challenges. Students will develop early stage business concepts that could lead to a new start-up idea or that could be used by existing enterprises fighting urban waste challenges. The design challenges that form the starting point of the innovation bootcamp will be identified in detail during the inception phase, by engaging directly with key stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. But, our implementation partners, the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), has already identified three major issues that require action and that could benefit from this program:

  1. Waste management: The management of urban household waste (solid waste) is the responsibility of the Solid Waste Management Coordination Unit (UCG): around 7,000 tonnes of waste are produced per day in Senegal, half of which is produced in Dakar. The challenges of solid waste management in Dakar include, among others, capacity building of local stakeholders, by guaranteeing them adequate competences and funding, and the promotion of behavioral change campaigns
  2. Use of compost (vegetable waste) and manure in (urban) gardening: Floriculture and horticulture (mainly tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, onions, headed cabbage, carrots, peppers, eggplants, chili peppers, bitter eggplants) are more developed in Dakar than other productions. However, because of pressure on land, the availability of arable land is decreasing, thus leading to a drop in agricultural yield. Regenerative agricultural models, making use of vegetable waste, are needed to enrich soils and to keep the city fed.
  3. Production of biogas from slaughterhouses and wastewater treatment plants: The production of biogas from slaughterhouse waste and faecal sludge from septic tanks is a major challenge today, but also an opportunity for the production of green energy and fertilizers. In the slaughterhouses, organic waste (intestines, dung, blood, wastewater) is collected and transformed into biogas and natural fertilizers, intended for the inhabitants and farmers of the area. Likewise, the National Office for Sanitation of Senegal (ONAS) collects faecal sludge from on-site sanitation which constitutes the majority sanitation system in Senegal to produce electricity and ash. 

During #CoCreateDAKAR challenge, students will engage with ‘problem owners’ and key experts, that offer them the necessary contextual information to draft their problem statement and design challenge. This allows students to directly apply their knowledge, as well as to learn from the reality of these stakeholders. We will make use of the Design Thinking methodology 1, which relies on a set of tools which create a continuously  divergent and convergent thinking pattern.

One of the key outcomes or our program is an intensified relationship between UCAD in Dakar and the Leiden, Delft and Erasmus universities on the topic of entrepreneurship education. Our ambition is to build on the current circular economy and entrepreneurship components that UCAD (and other educational institutes in Dakar) already use, for instance in the Master in Sustainable Management of Horticultural Agro-ecosystems and the Master Food and Nutrition. By co-designing relevant tools and methodologies we aim to improve the quality of entrepreneurial education and increase the chances that more students will focus on waste challenges with a start-up idea. To enable these students to get the right support needed to grow their early-stage business ideas, we will also work closely with local incubators and accelerators to form a bridge between academia and practice, which also produces results after the duration of this program.

1) Design Thinking methodology is used by PLNT in various incubator programs and in CFIA's minor Frugal Innovation for Africa.
For more information on the methodology click here


Implementing partners
implementing partners: PLNT Leiden Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, African Studies Centre Université ,Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD) and Circular Stories