In 2003, Aywa began providing technical training to Senegalese students in wood/metal work, textiles, and other handicrafts and supporting them in marketing, quality control, and business development. A number of Senegalese-owned businesses have been incubated by our program, including Malika Monkeys, an artisan handicraft brand with distribution through stores in Dakar and direct sales around the world.
In 2008, Aywa’s focus expanded to include the incubation of technologies and solutions relating to energy, water, and agriculture. That year, our organization was awarded a grant from the World Bank Development Marketplace to develop an outboard motor that would increase mobility and access to markets for farmers along the Sine-Saloum River. Partnering with local women’s groups, Aywa planted hundreds of Jatropha trees to test the viability of producing Jatropha seed oil to be used as an alternative fuel for the motor.
Since 2010, Aywa has hosted individuals and groups of design, marketing, and engineering students from organized university programs. As a result of these partnerships, we’ve not only had a hand in the launch of successful development pilots and design products, but also in the facilitation of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exchange.
Aywa's headquarters is located on roughly 2.5 acres of land in Malika and is easily reached by road from Dakar. The main building contains four bedrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, and classroom. Behind the main house is a second 3-bedroom house with kitchen, living room, and handicraft store. Four simple sleeping huts, W.C., and fire pit on the northwestern edge of the property provide accommodations for the more rustically-minded.
A 20-minute walk from the beach, Aywa’s property offers a number of recreational facilities including a swimming pool, basketball court, and petanque pitch. Various tropical plants—including a variety of fruit trees—grow throughout the grounds, which are also home to a variety of fauna, both domesticated and wild. Aywa's main workshop contains equipment for wood/metal work and welding. A pickup truck and SUV offer transportation to project areas and other offsite opportunities.
The Bode family, who own the property, have lived and worked in Senegal for the past 40 years. They speak fluent Wolof and take joy in sharing Aywa’s unique cross-cultural haven. During the course of the Bodes’ years there, hundreds of people from around the world have sought out the Malika compound for spiritual retreats, academic research, humanitarian work, and vacation time. Dozens of young people have also benefited from the vocational training program that began in the early 2000s and continues to date.
Our Focus Areas
Providing equal opportunities to both men and women, we are grounded in the tradition of vocational education and have been operating an apprenticeship program in carpentry, metalwork, cottage-industry crafts, mechanical engineering, and water management since 2003. We have an experienced group of 10 experts in textiles, woodwork, metalcraft, and water systems. These individuals are capable of producing everything from musical instruments and tourism-oriented crafts to systems for pumping, storing, and distributing water. Aywa's new building will feature shop space for metal, wood, and textile trades as well as a retail shop for equipment and handicrafts.
Aywa abuts more than 10 acres of farmland where we test pumps, water storage, and irrigation systems as well as cultivation and agri-processing technologies. Since 2008, we have planted several thousand Jatropha trees, working predominantly with women’s groups in this domain, forming co-ops to add value and supplement income. We have introduced an outboard motor and developed milling and oilseed processing equipment in the Dakar, Mbour, Saloum, Keur Madiabel, and Fouta regions. We have also built partnerships with Peace Corps and the USAID Master Farmer program to leverage their network for agricultural research and commercialization opportunities.
Aywa is located near Mbeubeus, a two-square-kilometer lake bed that has been used as Dakar's landfill since 1968. It is home to more than a thousand people whose livelihoods are tied to collecting, sorting, and selling recycled products. We have recruited apprentices from this community and worked with them to design and make artisan and craft work from recycled materials. We are also working with industrial designers on developing furniture and other functional products, and are integrating composting and water treatment into our upcycling program.
In 2008, Aywa was awarded a World Bank Development Marketplace grant to establish a small engine program and implement equipment for aquatic transportation. We have a suite of outboard motors that can be attached to wooden pirogue boats and are in the process of developing a larger, ocean-going vessel. We are particularly focused on transportation solutions for alluvial and coastal geographies.
Dany shares his time between the US and Senegal and leads Aywa’s product development, partner recruitment, training, and construction projects. He has 20 years’ experience in the design, development, and commercialization of handicraft, textile, carpentry, metal- and engine-based products. He is the creative force and collaborative spirit that guides Aywa’s works.
Saidou lives between Dakar and his home village of Keur Madiabel, Senegal. He grew up as a farmer, was trained as an engineer, and has become a community leader. Saidou manages our relationships with farmers, businesses, local leadership, government, and community partners. Fiercely dedicated to his country, Saidou is a champion for participatory, community-centered development.
Brian lives in Malika, is a Peace Corps Volunteer, and manages several urban agriculture projects in the area. He is our general manager and concierge, supporting our partners as they execute their projects and coordinate with necessary stakeholders. Brian is a pragmatist who helps us convert our ideas into action.
Abdoulaye lives in Malika. He is our shop manager and a skilled craftsman and musician to boot. He manages the fabrication, installation, and testing for product development and also oversees ongoing monitoring, evaluation and maintenance. Laye’s quiet leadership keeps the shop in order, and he leaves his creative and artistic mark on much of what Aywa does.
Help Us Grow
Aywa has outgrown our current workshop, and we are thus planning the construction of a new facility that will be erected on the south end of the compound along Malika's main road. This facility will be anchored by retail-oriented workshops for wood, metal, and textile enterprises, in addition to a showroom for our irrigation, cultivation, agri-processing, transportation, and other technologies. The building's foundation will support 3 levels which will eventually contain additional retail space, a computer lab, music studio, clinic, and dorm rooms. The open space behind the new facility will be used as a demonstration plot for irrigation technologies and overflow space for the workshops.
The build-out cost for the first phase of the project (foundation and 5 shops) is estimated at roughly $50,000. The build-out of the entire space, with 3 stories and the full footprint, is projected to fall between $200,000 and $250,000. Please consider helping us reach our construction goals with your tax-deductible donation.