Koffi Dodji Honou, executive manager at Woelab.
Koffi Dodji Honou, executive manager at Woelab, spoke to HumanIPO about Togo’s need for more innovation opportunities as being more urgent than funding to create better community solutions.
HumanIPO: Do you believe innovation is key to the African future?
Honou: Of course, but I prefer to talk about creativity. With one innovation from e-waste we can do new and better things.
Our skills that we possess are internationally wanted.
To give others a chance in West Africa is very important to our lives. We are very passionate about creating this. [For] the future, it is collaboration [that] is the core key.
Do you see the use of e-waste as an innovative solution for solving generally-acknowledged local problems?
We create a solution to fight pollution… and we give them a solution to resolve waste problems and bring the solution to the people.
Do you consider yourselves tech entrepreneurs?
Here the concept of startups is not known because they (local people from Togo) don’t know about the startup concept.
In Togo we are not developed with this concept. We are bringing this vision.
We are the first co-working space. We bring this idea to them.
We can consider ourselves as tech entrepreneurs, because in Woelab we are developing more than four startups, including W.Afate.
Does Woelab see itself sparking this idea in Togo to encourage the community to create more of these solutions?
Woelab brought a new solution. We are known worldwide because of the imagination and creation from us. For them it is amazing to see we can create stuff.
Bringing it to the youth or the elders, we encourage them to give access to the youth and to follow our example to make companies and to replicate… this kind of space in order to give people the opportunity to work together and create.
Two weeks ago, two members of Woelab went to ESIAU, an architectural school in Mali, to help them to create their FABLAB inside the school.
We are an example and we’re encouraging people .
Do you believe youth is the key to promoting tech innovation in the community?
Of course, it is necessary to do it.
It is very important and we are fine and happy to go to schools and show them… [and] inspire them to want to innovate.
[It is important] to think what they want to do and just to do things that they want to do.
Our goal as the first persons to implement this is to share, to be an example.
We are ready to share. Just give us the opportunity and we can…show them what we can do.
What is most needed in Togo to promote this kind of innovation and tech startups?
Just give this opportunity to people to innovate and create.
They are not asking for money. Just give them an opportunity, a space… to express themselves.
We have to work together… [to] make greater things. You can see the results.
Be proud of what you are doing.