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Grassroots drying up

Community based waste recycler in The Gambia, West Africa, seeks short term assistance.

Established in 2001, the Paper Recycling Skills Project (PRSP) has been involved in recycling paper into value added craft items and donating any net profits to assist in the education sector. As our products – craft paper, note books, albums, cards etc. – are aimed at the volatile and seasonal tourism market our income potential is limited and extremely seasonal. However, we are totally self supporting on a day-to-day basis and we have been able to donate over 45,000 exercise books free to needy students over the years and conduct countless workshops in paper making and environmental awareness building.

I moved to The Gambia in November 2003 and joined the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET) in March 2004. Due to a continued delay in my own business activities I became a virtual full time volunteer. I acted as Chair of the Product Development & Marketing committee, helped to co-ordinate the member’s trade fairs for 3 years and was elected as treasurer from March 2006 to June 2007.

I joined PRSP as a volunteer in mid 2004 and in February 2006 was elected as a board member, assisting the charity in business development and financial management. In March 2007 I was charged with the task of exploring funding possibilities to establish the first Craft Village in The Gambia as acting General Manager and project developer.

Since November 2007 I have researched and developed a number of additional and complimentary projects based on PRSP’s core activities – recycling, environmental care and assisting the education sector. All my desk and field based research activities have been self financed and we have now 3 separate project proposals ready for funding and implementation.

1. Expansion of community based waste recycling and introducing compressed bio-fuel briquettes.
2. Fuel efficient stoves research and pilot demonstration project.
3. Building capacity on environmental awareness through children to their families using education with the use of literature, books and media.
All 3 proposals can be found here in PDF format:

In April 2009 we were awarded a small grant of ca. US$ 3,700.00 by the British High Commission under their local Bilateral Programme Budget funding. This grant will give us access to secure water for our compound and a basic range of equipment to start manufacturing our compressed bio-fuel briquettes. However the grant does not take into account the personnel and logistics/admin cost involved for an estimated 3 months trial and introductory period until the new products are proven and accepted by the local community as a viable and economic alternative to wood as cooking fuel.

This being the tourist off-season PRSP’s income stream has all but dried up and after working for 5 years as a virtual volunteer in a number of community related activities I personally are not in the financial situation anymore to afford this expense. A budget forecast covering all basic expenses and employing our 4 local workers and enabling myself to carry on my project development and management activities shows that US$ 4,054.00 for the following 3 month period would enable us to introduce this new product to a level were we could become financially self supporting and stay sustainable. ( budget attached )

This is a small price to pay for assisting the establishment of a ground breaking initiative in The Gambia introducing appropriate technology at grass roots level to improve not only local livelihoods but also our environment by recycling many tons of waste materials in substitution for wood as cooking fuel.

With the support and on behalf of PRSP and the local community – and myself – I am looking for assistance that would enable us to carry on our work that will benefit a large part of the community. Should you be able to provide this assistance I will be happy to furnish any other information you may require.
Can YOU help? Do you KNOW somebody who may be able to help?

Thank you for your time.
George Riegg
General Manager / Project developer
Tel: +220 770 7090 email:
That sounds like a fantastic program to be involved with. I have never heard of it before, but now that I have read about it from you an some other articles I looked up it sounds awesome, not only does it recycle, provide a service to the community, generate a slight income, but it also results in awesome crafts paper. If I had any $ whatsoever I would definitely help the organization out. I am sure if you approached some businesses you would be easily able to raise that modest amount of capital.
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