Dec 3, 2015

Update from Tigoung Nonma


During the last few months, life on Burkina soil has been eerily quiet. This atmosphere was due to the abortive coup d’etat in September by members of a presidential guard loyal to former President Blaise Compaoré who was deposed by the popular uprising a year ago October. In the recent coup attempt, the transitional president, Michel Kafando, and his prime minister were taken hostage. Fortunately, both were released from jail after an intense stand-off period. National elections, which were to have taken place on October 11, were rescheduled for November 29.

The socio-political turmoil induced the International Service (IS) to withdraw its volunteers from Tigoung Nonma because of safety concerns. Unfortunately, artisan sales have diminished substantially due to the decline in tourist traffic. Despite the difficulties of the IS volunteers departure, the TN cooperative and its management have been able to forge ahead with many of its activities. Note the following:

1. Meetings:

The President of TN continues to lead regular staff meetings from her office in Ouagadougou. She continues to plan and monitor the evolution of TN members’ activities. A general assembly of all members of the organization is scheduled to take place on the 12th December 2015 during which propositions and suggestions for TN’s plan of action for 2016 will be discussed and made.

2. Award for Peace

On the 26th September TN was invited by the Friends of Burkina Faso (a non-governmental organization comprised mainly of returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteers) to be present at FBF’s first Award for the Peace In Ouagadougou. The award was granted to Mogho Naaba Banwogo, tribal chief of the Mossi clan. The bronze statue given to the Mogho Naaba in honor of his award was crafted by TN-artisan Issoufu, shown in the third picture below. The ceremony, which took place at the palace of the Mogho Naaba, was attended by many Burkinbés, including dignitaries from the government and the U.S. Ambassador. Madame Zoénabou (TN coordinator) and artisan Issoufu received congratulations and encouragements for their work from the President of FBF.

3. Craft Industries:

Fortuitously, TN received and processed a relatively large craft order from Handicap Solidaire Suisse, in the following artistic areas : leather, dressmaking, necklaces, recycled objects. Ten artisans, of which six were men and five were women, benefited directly from the sale of these items.

4. Catering Service:

From October to November, TN’s catering service received three orders. The orders allowed TN to compensate seven members for their hard work preparing and delivering the food to their clients. In addition, TN initiated a new income-generating activity for their catering-service members, namely the sale of cereal which total funding is 1 153 000 FCFA/ $1876.03.  This project was approved by UK based charity LAFI Burkina. Cereal will be sold to local people in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso which will hopefully improve the sustainability of Tigoung Nonma. Members of Tigoung Nonma will benefit from social priced sales. LAFI Burkina, which stands for Lasting Action For Inclusion (or ‘the girl- La Fille in French), is a charity set up by ex volunteers from the UK who worked in Burkina Faso. They are working to improve the livelihoods of disabled people in Burkina Faso.

For more information, please visit:

 Future Prospects :

The unstable political situation in Burkina Faso during the last few months created major challenges for the TN cooperative, its members, and all citizens of BF during the last few months. Fortunately, recent developments promise a much brighter future. Burkina Faso held a free and open election on September 29th. Rock Marc Christian Kaboré was chosen by the people to lead the country and to form a new government on the very first ballot. This vote promises to generate stability in Burkina Faso. It could also serve as an example of democratic transition to other countries in African where veteran rulers often change the constitution to retain their terms in office.

Calebasse / Gourd
Calebasse / Gourd
Sep 3, 2015

Update on the Activities of Tigoung Nonma

Volunteers and Secretary visit artisans
Volunteers and Secretary visit artisans

Tigoung Nonma thanks all those who have contributed to supporting our cooperative since our last report three months ago!  We are accumulating your gifts in our cooperative’s Bank account here in Ougadougou as we continue to plan for our acquisition of a site closer to the center of town, where customers can visit, observe TN’s artisan-members at work, contract for our catering services and purchase our craft products.

As we describe on GlobalGiving’s site, Tigoung Nonma is a cooperative of artisans with physical disabilities, whose members are fighting poverty through the manufacture and sale of handicrafts as well as the provision of catering services. The co-operative benefits from technical assistance from European and Burkinabe volunteers recruited and placed here by the British government’s "International Citizen Service" programme. These volunteers work together to improve the livelihoods and promote the rights of TN’s members.  Every three months marks the arrival of a new cohort of volunteers who engage with Tigoung Nonma’s leadership and long-term members, learning about the cooperative’s achievements and challenges in order to help as much as possible before returning to their ordinary pursuits in Europe or Burkina Faso.

During the last month, under the guidance of Burkinabe volunteer leader, Melodie, the new cohort of volunteers has helped us investigate Tigoung Nonma’s existing situation and challenges in the areas of production constraints, sales and marketing, and awareness raising.  The following report discusses these topics with specific reference to two TN members, a bronze sculptor and a fabric craftperson (See figures 1 and 2) and concludes with our current activities and our recommendations for improving Tigoung Nonma’s sustainability.

Production constraints

We discussed at length the production problems facing the bronze and fabric crafts.  Crafting bronze figurines and other objects requires constructing a wax model of the final product, casting a mold from the wax model, acquiring the bronze raw material, melting and pouring the bronze into the mold.  The poverty of Issouf, our bronze-working member, hampers him at every stage of this process.  Because the knife he uses to carve the wax models is too big for the detailed work, his work would be faster and more detailed if he could acquire one or more smaller sculpting tools.  He lacks the resources to buy bronze in bulk and thus spends much more per sculpture.  And, because he does not own a kiln, he is forced to travel four hours to use a kiln belonging to another bronze maker.  Our member’s handicap makes this travel very difficult. 

Brigitte, the fabric worker we visited, also faces production constraints.  Due, perhaps, to the ongoing political problems in Mali, she is no longer able to buy Malian cotton from her old supplier.  Burkina Faso’s cotton is of lower quality than the Malian cotton she used to buy. And cotton prices are increasing. For 3 bundles of cotton, the price has risen from 3,000 CFA to 7,000 CFA and the material is not as durable as it used to be.  Despite these production difficulties, our fabric worker feels she could use as many as three additional sewing machines, which would cost 55,000 CFA, but she cannot afford to buy them. 

Sales and Marketing

Our two representative Tigoung Nonma members also discussed the challenges of marketing their products.  While the fabric craftswoman does sell some of her products from her home, the bronze craftsman says he very rarely is able to sell from home.  Both of these members value the opportunity to sell their products through Tigoung Nonma’s outlets.

In addition to their office in the outskirts of Ouagadougou, Tigoung Nonma’s sales outlets include a display case in the Calao Hotel (see figure 2 below) and sales through the online kiosk.  Observing that the only cost of such a display cabinet is the time of a volunteer or member to staff it, we asked other hotels whether they are willing to host one of our displays. The Golden Tulip (formerly called the Silmandé Hotel) has agreed to do so.

In the last few weeks, Tigoung Nonma volunteers and officers have also visited Ouagadougou’s Artisan’s Village and its Grand Marché in order to assess our competition and to explore the potential for retail outlets in these locations.

Awareness raising and brand development

More abstract ways we are approaching marketing include attempting to increase overall awareness of the challenges and potential contributions of disabled people and to improve recognition of and loyalty to the specific Tigoung Nonma “brand”.

Organisation of a disability festival promoted by TN

As a way to increase overall awareness confronting individuals living with physical disabilities, we have decided to work with other parts of the Ouagadougou community to organize a disability festival sometime within the next year.  As a first step, we have sent letters to the different cultural, business and art’s Ministries, asking them to support a disability festival. Several of these organizations have agreed to help and have given advice for the good organization of the Festival. In addition to raising awareness about physical disabilities in general, such a festival could be a venue for the sale of Tigoung Nonma crafts and catering services. In addition, it would improve Tigoung Nonma’s brand recognition in the Ouagadougou community and could induce to folks to donate to our organization.  We would use any resources raised through such a festival to invest in Tigoung Nonma’s long-term expansion, including the investment project which is the objective of this GlobalGiving campaign: the acquisition of a retail shop/workshop close to the commercial center.

Increasing Tigoung Nonma’s brand recognition

We are launching several efforts to improve Tigoung Nonma’s brand recognition.  For example, we are designing a new logo. We are also planning to produce and sell clothes and products featuring this logo.  We intend to feature the logo on business cards and adverts around town and to use it at disability events such as the disability festival described above and in direct fund.   We will also display the logo on the GlobalGiving site.

Awareness Raising

In collaboration with the previous cohort’s in-country volunteers, we participated in a lecture given to the students of OuagadougouUniversity. Our contribution to the presentation featured this video which features the TN workshop, its artisans and products for sale. 

In addition this (IC’s 13th) volunteer cohort collaborated with Handicap Solidaire Burkina (HBS) and Handicap Solidaire Burkina-  Inclusif Sport for the Dévelopment  (HSB-ISB) to organize an awareness-raising day in the market of Gounghin. (See Figure 3.)  The volunteers were split into two teams. One team stayed at the marquee whilst another went around the market, looking for people to send to the marquee. At the marquee, volunteers asked questions about disability, to which the public (ranging from young children to adults) responded. This was a good way to help eradicate stigmas and misconceptions concerning persons living with physical disabilities. The children participated in games, dancing and answering questions regarding disabilities.

We volunteers were very happy with the event and believe it was a success.  For the 480 people who came, we publicized the TN brand.  We not only distributed flyers containing information about TN, but also sold some TN products to the public. Another success of the day, was that other physically disabled artisans became aware of our organization, visited the TN office two days later, and enquired about becoming a member of Tigoung Nonma. Two new members will be trained by one of TN's members in painting.

Volunteer activities and recommendations


As started by previous cohorts, and as recommended, we continued the training of members in IT skills and English language. In addition, we are downloading information and videos to help the artisans learn to expand and develop their crafts.

Current Volunteer Support to TN

The current volunteer cohort has identified two primary tasks for completion while we are here. First, cohort 13 has funded and built a ramp to aid the access of blind pupils to a school “Saint Peter of Kouka” down the road from the TN office. Second, our long-term aim is to increase the link between TN ICS volunteers past, present and future, so as to bring more continuity to continued support of Tigoung Nonma. We intend to further this objective by building on TN’s current presence on social media, which will enable past volunteers to keep up with TN’s progress and to use their experience and understanding to guide future cohorts.  We also hope to raise awareness among past volunteers of ongoing Tigoung Nonma projects and activities and of mechanisms like this GlobalGiving site through which they can support these endeavors. 

Lessons and Recommendations

From our visits to the representative TN members who work in bronze and fabric and from our investigation of TN’s current marketing outlets and of the competitive environment, we conclude that the project described here on GlobalGiving’s site continues to be the best hope for improving the well-being of TN’s close-knit community of persons living with disabilities.  Both Brigitte  the fabric-arts craft person, and Issouf, the bronze artisan, have described their difficulties in buying raw materials and essential equipment.  By grouping the purchases of bronze for several bronze sculptors and/or of cotton for several fabric artists together into a single purchase, Tigoung Nonma could potentially save them money on their inputs, allowing Brigitte  and Issouf to earn more income for themselves and their families.  Furthermore, if Tigoung Nonma had a larger, more centrally located workshop, the cooperative could buy larger equipment, such as kilns and sewing machines, and then share them among several people, which would both strengthen the solidarity of the members and increase their productivity.  Finally, the value of a larger and more easily accessible and attractive centre would clearly help Tigoung Nonma to market the products and services of its members, thereby greatly strengthening the organization.  All of these conclusions lead to the recommendation that Tigoung Nonma continue its efforts to raise the full amount necessary to build its new workshop/retail venue as described on this project page.

Again we thank GlobalGiving for your past support.  Please consider making another contribution now.

Volunteers and Secretary visit artisans
Volunteers and Secretary visit artisans
TN member Leonie sells products at Hotel Calao
TN member Leonie sells products at Hotel Calao
Volunteer raises awareness at HSB event
Volunteer raises awareness at HSB event
Jun 3, 2015

Tigoung Nonma's activities and progress

Catering Service
Catering Service

In their continued drive to develop Tigoung Nonma and raise awareness about living with a disability in Burkina Faso, since March of this year TN has been involved with the following activities:

• Fundraising research : The team conducted online research into funding and grants. We also cross posted the project onto GlobalGiving UK to reach out to ex-Tigoung Nonma volunteers for fundraising.
• Created a map of Ouagadougou showing the distance between artisans’ homes and TN’s current work space. We also came up with a design for TN’s future headquarters.
• Raised awareness on disability at 3 local schools: Lycée Manegda, Lycée Carrefour du Savoir and Lycée International.
• English lessons with the coordinator; accounting lessons with the secretary. We invited an external artisan to share his experience with some TN members working in the same field: leather.
• Received the “IFU number” (tax number) which gives TN access to public markets – contact was made with the Ministry in charge of it.
• Interviewed artisans and promoted products online.
• Offered customers the opportunity to customise their own products during the “Design Workshop”. During this activity we promoted the personalisation of products which led to a about 12 commissions. This activity was carried out at the local Hotel ‘Hotel Calao’ who agreed to host the TN display case in their gift shop.
• Posted weekly blogs of our activities at
• Organised and took part in a number of events including a Design Workshop at a local hotel and a TN Open Day wherein we invited the local community into TN to see the artisans’ products which were exhibited and to savour food prepared by TN’s Catering Service.
• Supported the Catering Service, both in their usual work, and at events.
• Initiated partnerships with the supermarket Bon Samaritan and Hotel Grand Calao for distribution and display of TN products.

Below is an interview that we carried out with one of Tigoung Nonma’s artisans:

Tell us something about you?
S.I I work in bronze and have been handicapped since the age of three. I lost my mother at the age of four so I was raised by my aunt. I felt alone in my village despite my family. People in the house contributed to household and community activities whilst I was left out; people viewed me as dependent on those around me, they didn’t believe I had the capacity to live independently. But God thought otherwise. I left my village in 1998 and moved to the capital where I began to work little jobs that changed on a daily basis before I became a bronze apprentice with a contact of my family.
Tell us about your work
S.I I like my work. It is a job I aspired to do from childhood and I hope to continue to work as an artisan. I find it difficult to exhibit my work due to my disability, my tools are out dated and their price continues to rise, the materials used to make the bronze are expensive (wood, carbon, wax and bronze). In brief I’m not competitive enough to sell my products.
How did you become involved with Tigoung Nonma:
S.I I heard of TN through a friend in 2009. I’m now an active member of the TN co-operative and they support me to make a living. TN is a great opportunity for me to sell my products. I also benefit from their micro-credit scheme and the rise in my sales.
What are your objectives and expectations?
S.I I hope to be self-sufficient and independent and I’m currently on track to realise these objectives. I would like help to benefit from the micro-credit scheme, to purchase new tools to improve and innovate my work, to reduce the time spent making products and to learn to be more competitive. In my country many people have overcome disability through work and I aspire to be like them.

Once TN is able to construct its own workshop, it will be able to provide training and support for more members and will have the space and resources to develop. This will truly transform Tigoung Nonma and the lives of its members.

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.