Entrepreneur’s experiences provide sustainable model, students told

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By Donia Ibrahim

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – An entrepreneur in Burkina Faso considered environmental issues, cultural heritage, and equity in developing a sustainable business, Rose Armour, American University of Sharjah’s head of sustainability, said Feb. 16.

Armour shared her professional experience with local enterprises in Burkina Faso. She showcased local artistic products made from a traditional woven material known as faso dan fani

She noted that this material is commonly used in Burkina Faso to make clothing, where people make a living by manufacturing and selling garments to locals.

She narrated the story of Jeanne Lompo, an entrepreneur who made a career weaving faso dan fani. According to Armour, Lompo was facing challenges in her business due to a drop in demand for the material and the advent of new alternatives.

She noted that the challenges included the availability of less costly materials with unique designs like the African wax cotton, as well as modernization, in which people were buying inexpensive western clothing.

Armour said that she looked for solutions to modernize the products and reduce the cost of creating items using faso dan fani. 

She said some of the solutions included creating products that did not require the employment of other people, designing items with unique colors, buying raw materials from the local market, and calculating true costs.

Armour offered advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, noting that “Whatever enterprise you create does not have to be 100 percent new and shiny, it might just be redoing something that exists and making it more marketable and accessible for the current market.”