This profile was prepared when Souleymane Ouattara was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Souleymane’s design is based in the notion that artisans can directly impact the future of their community through the skills they pass on to the next generation in their field. By radically transforming the relationship between artisans and their apprentices from one of domination and exploitation to that of family and fellowship, he hopes to improve the employment and educational opportunities for adolescents in rural areas of Burkina Faso. To carry out his vision, Souleymane created the organization Association des Tailleurs Tisserands et Associés (ATTA) which brings together tailors, weavers, and similar artisans to aid in fostering stronger economic growth. Individuals participate in training sessions and create new workshops for younger artisans looking to break into the field. In doing so, the elders gain both new skills as well as access to new, larger markets, which has a widespread positive impact on the community at large. For young people to reap the benefits of his plan, however, Souleymane believes artisans must lead professional endeavors with high quality production and management. As such, his program offers specific management training to help artisans accurately evaluate their costs and time in production as well as marketing and creative capacities. Assuring a high quality of training for those partaking in his program is important because it will be these artisans who will ultimately serve as the primary trainers and supports of young people establishing new workshops in the years to come. Today the system Souleymane has set up is not only effective, but also expanding. When he began, he taught primarily tailors, but he has since enlisted trainers in a variety of fields and has expanded his programs to other professions such as mechanics, wood working, weaving, and masonry. Many different authorities have recognized the importance of his design, including the government, as he is currently working to provide services across all of Burkina Faso, and beyond.