Fellow Q&A with Dabré Guillaume, Founder of GreenFaso

Please introduce yourself.

I am DABRE Guillaume, from Burkina Faso, and I am 27 years old. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan, and I have recently accepted an offer to become a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in China. Schwarzman aims to train the next generation of world leaders who will foster a mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world.

What three adjectives would people use to describe you?

Altruistic. Driven. Bold.

What is your favorite book and why?

Why Nations Fail. This masterpiece by James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu answers a question I have always asked myself: Why is Africa left behind and how can we change the destiny of the continent? It’s of course not a panacea, but it remains my favorite book as a social entrepreneur who is passionate about policy and inclusive growth.  

What is the challenge your venture seeks to address? 

GreenFaso seeks to address environmental degradation, pollution, and climate change. 

How is your venture addressing these challenges?

GreenFaso is contributing to the fight against climate change and pollution by raising awareness among young people in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and building a viable business model around recycling plastic waste. 

Have you been personally affected by this issue? If so, how? 

From a big picture view, yes. I was born in Lengha, a small village in Burkina Faso as part of a family of farmers. Growing up, I saw a gradual degradation of the environment due to increased desertification and decreased rainfall which negatively impacted crops and the livelihoods of farmers in my village. In addition to that, a considerable amount of plastic waste polluted the air, water, and land in Ouagadougou, a city I moved to after my childhood. With rapid urbanization, plastic waste is becoming an even bigger problem in Ouagadougou and other cities.

What does your venture hope to achieve?

The first goal is to achieve what we call: “Ouaga Clean City”. The concept aims to impart environmental awareness in young people and have them think of the environmental blueprint of their daily actions. This comes with public trash cans at schools and other public places, workshops, training, and eventually recycling. We have launched a pilot program in Taiwan through a combination of workshops and curriculum-building which received very positive feedback from the school and the students. 

What inspired you to start your venture?

I saw a problem and immediately thought about a way to contribute to solving it. That’s how GreenFaso started. There are many ways to address climate and environmental issues but the formula we are using at GreenFaso utilizes grassroots support and involves local communities.

What excites you about the Resolution Fellowship?

The incredible support and the mentorship system. As a young entrepreneur, I don’t have answers to all my questions, so it’s really helpful to know that I can turn to my Guides and/or Resolution staff anytime for support.

What advice would you give other college students who are looking to start their first social venture?

I would say it’s important to like what they do. When there is passion, challenges are embraced happily. This way, they can deliver results. If I have to add another point, it would be to build a good team.

What do you love most about your home community?

My home community is known at the local level for its solidarity. I grew up in that community-focused environment. Together we can overcome challenges that are simply too big for one individual. Seeing people always come together to support each other is just amazing. I love that.

What role do young leaders play in the world today?

The most recent innovations I have seen come from or involve young leaders. Those innovations in the business sector are changing our daily lives. In the social and public sectors, we also see young leaders impacting their communities. When I look at Forbes’ 30 Under 30, I feel inspired and hopeful about the future because there are incredibly talented young people out there working to make this world a better place.

Why is it important for young people to focus on social impact?

Focusing on social impact should be seen as imperative for businesses. And young people have the chance to change the narrative. Profit should not be the only driving force of business otherwise we will end up destroying the environment and the communities in which we work. Destroying the society in which we conduct business will only result in destroying our own businesses. So, for young people, social impact should not just feature in Corporate Social Responsibility programs, but it should be an integral part of the business model. 

What are your goals for the future?

In the future, I would like to build on my experience as a social entrepreneur and other work experience to hone my skills and become a great policymaker. I believe in sustainable growth and that economic development should not be in opposition to environmental protection. So, in the future I see myself impacting people’s lives through the formulation and implementation of sustainable environmental policies.

Do you have any personal or professional goals for 2021?

For 2021, I’ll be heading to Beijing at Tsinghua University for the Schwarzman Scholars program. I hope to learn, develop my leadership skills, and build a strong network. I specifically want to use this opportunity to connect with phone manufacturers in China and explore the possibility of partnering to sell cell phones in Africa with GreenFaso’s recycled phone covers that we are planning to launch in the near future.