How my internship helped me discover my entrepreneurial spark

My name is Mamadou Diallo, a young conservation leader at the African Leadership University School of Wildlife Conservation and I now consider myself an innovator. I started SHEBA Plastics, a circular designed solution that uses technologies such as an app, QR codes and smart bins to reduce plastic pollution in Africa.

Like many other companies, SHEBA PLASTIC was born out of an experience, for me, it was my first year internship experience. After an academic year of eight months studying and doing assignments, then comes the internship period at ALU which is a part of the academic journey of students at the African Leadership University. The internship period is full of excitement and adrenaline for all the students. We see ourselves challenged to secure internships with our dream companies and organizations either on the continent or further afield.

Our conservation related internships are supported by the internship fund managed by the School of Wildlife Conservation, In 2020, in order to put into practice what I learnt during the academic term, I secured a one month internship with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) in the Moyen Baffind National Park, Guinea, and got support from the school wildlife conservation internship fund, which helped me cover some of my expenses during the internship.

During my internship with Wild Chimpanzee Foundation in the Moyen Baffing National Park, I noticed that every time we went on a mission in the park my colleagues did not throw away their plastic bottles, nor even non-degradable waste, because of the laws established by the authority that manages the park. However, every time we finished with the mission and were out of the park on our way to the town, they would throw their litter out of the windows of the vehicles without a care. I couldn't understand why they were doing it. When I asked my colleagues for an explanation, they replied that it was forbidden to throw away non-degradable waste (eg: plastic bottles) in the park, and that outside the park there were no regulations, and definitely none forbidding the throwing away of such plastic waste in the environment. I was shocked and very surprised.

Ever since that day I promised myself I would find a solution that would fight against these actions and reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in the landfill. As a result, SHEBA PLASTIC was born.

After several months of research, I found that the problem I identified in the Moyen Baffing National Park is not unique to Guinea but continental in scope, with most African countries facing the same problem. To overcome this challenge, I came up with SHEBA PLASTIC, a circular designed solution that uses technology such as a mobile application, QR codes, and smart bins to reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills and oceans in Africa. I was stimulated by my internship in the Moyen Baffing National Park; I learnt and practiced a lot and it inspired me to become a conservation entrepreneur in Africa.

With the help of ALU Circular Economy which funded us, I managed to develop our mobile application (App Store, Google Playstore), create our website and support some of our activities so far.

We invite you all to join us as we build a green, healthy, and resilient future.