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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Social Entrepreneur

by Alhassan Lamin
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I am a 21-year-old social entrepreneur and CEO of Ragsul Trading. I started selling pure water sachets on the streets of Freetown when I left secondary school. I started realizing I create a new venture to make paper bags after seeing all the plastic waste from water factories. I started with a capital of 200,000 Leones ($20). Then, I moved on to producing coconut charcoal briquette, vegetable farming, and poultry. But I lost money on vegetable farming, so I shut that down. Later in 2019, I started poultry farming with over 1,000 layers, and as of today, I have 3,000 layers.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, business was good for the poultry farm. Our primary customers are hotels and restaurants. There were tourists at the hotels, so the demand for eggs was high. The two other businesses were also doing well; the flow of income was significant. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Sierra Leonean businesses suffered. I was in the U.S; there were travel restrictions. I couldn’t get back to Sierra Leone to manage the business and maintain potential customers. I have already shut down operations for the paper bag production and the coconut charcoal briquette, which won me the $15,000 2018 Anzisha Prize.

Presently the poultry farm, which is the worst affected in the business, is at risk. I have not even reached my projected net revenue for the year. We projected to make $30,000, but I haven’t even made more than $10,000. I am spending a lot right now to keep operations running. The cost of materials is expensive, and the selling price is stagnant. Before, I bought a corn bag for 250,000 Leones, and now it costs around = 350,000 Leones. I believe that things will come back to normal soon to implement most of my plans.

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