This profile was prepared when Souleymane Sarr was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
Souleymane's new approach to training artisans involves pairing unemployed university graduates, "who think they know everything," as Souleymane says, with unemployed street youth, "who think they know nothing". The result is teams of young people capable of launching their own micro-enterprises.Souleymane provides each group with a six-month training he describes as, "not what traditional artisans do, and not what universities do, but a bit between the two". In addition, Souleymane provides six months of follow up and support to the groups during the early stages of their enterprises. He says a "natural complementarily" will arise between some groups, which will work together, each specializing on one aspect of production, to form "mini-factories in the street."Souleymane explains that this next generation of artisans will be entirely self-sufficient. Souleymane's system will also help overcome deep-seated colonial values: "The colonial system told us that the way was to go to school, to wear a starched shirt. We need to understand that there are other ways to do it. However, we need to also understand that the starched shirts are not the enemy."