Appropriate Mechanization Using Locally-Produced Biofuel

Appropriate Mechanization Using Locally-Produced Biofuel

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

As the West benefited from the Industrial Revolution, so too does Africa need a revolution in mechanization. Mission Goorgoorlu (MGG) is introducing a power platform based on the concept of a small modified diesel engine that runs on straight SVO and powers numerous apps such as water pumps, walk-behind tractors, outboard motors, generators, etc. The engine is designed to run on locally-grown biofuel. We've developed a closed-loop system in which farmers grow their own fuel for their own machines, resulting in increased production, income, and quality of life.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Senegal is located in West Africa, covers a land area of about 76,000 square miles, and has an estimated population of 14 million. Colonized by the French, Senegal gained her independence in 1960 and is now a democratic republic with a relatively stable government. 95% of the population is Muslim. The geography ranges from desert to savannah to river delta. Bordering the encroaching Sahara, Senegal suffers from deforestation and soil erosion. More than half the population lives in rural areas, with 33% employed in agriculture. The agriculture sector only accounts for 15% of the total GDP, which has contributed to urbanization rates of more than 3% over the past 30 years. On average, rural farmers subsist on less than $2 per day. Very few development projects here have a lasting impact due to organizations throwing money at the problems as opposed to providing sustainable enterprise. Our focus is currently on the Sine-Saloum Delta region (UN Biosphere), a fragile ecosystem whose inhabitants are balancing the need to provide for themselves and to preserve their environment for future generations.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our initiative is two-pronged, focusing on the power platform (engine) and the fuel to power it. There is no power platform on the market that boasts the twin attributes of being able to run various applications (think DeWalt multi-tool kit) paired with fuel-source versatility. Single-application products with similar horsepower output to our engine are expensive, not versatile, and don’t run on a variety of fuels. The distribution of these products also tends to be centralized, concentrated in major cities and not easily accessible to rural populations, unlike our engine. We locally modify our diesel engines to run on SVO, eliminating the costly and technically intensive procedure of turning raw fuel into biodiesel. To provide fuel for the engines, we have introduced a sharecropping scheme with farmers and rural communities in which we partner to grow the biofuel jatropha. Our co-op model is unique compared to large agribusiness in Africa, who purchase land from farmers and pay them wages to work this land. MGG’s approach gives farmers stake in their own land and incentive to earn more. Our combined service of introduction of a unique affordable product and a viable locally-grown fuel source is singular.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our organization runs a vocational school/shop, a small business incubator program, facilitates micro credit loans, and co-manages, with local communities, Jatropha-based agricultural projects and business ventures. Our 4 main areas of focus are: 1) continuing to establish co-op jatropha plantations (our fuel source); 2) doing the necessary modifications to the imported diesel engines and fabricating replacement parts in our shop in Dakar; 3) distribution and marketing, which we do through demonstrations to NGOs, government institutions, and agricultural retailers; 4) research and development, working with MIT and CSU and various individual scientists/engineers to continue to develop our power platform and its applications.
About You
Mission Goorgoorlu
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Mission Goorgoorlu

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Since early childhood, Daniel has had the privilege of a rich global experience. His Dutch mother and German father worked as missionaries in Senegal, West Africa, where they moved as a family when Daniel was 2. Having grown up in these variegated crosscurrents of language, culture, and philosophy, the seed of adventure and entrepreneurship took root—as well as an irrepressible urge to tinker and build reliable machines using the most basic of materials. With his wife and 4 daughters, he returned to Senegal, motivated by a desire to help his childhood friends. The plight of high youth unemployment was the catalyst that inspired him to start sustainable enterprise. This endeavor commenced with a mere $300 and 15 years later has developed into five self-sustaining businesses, a self-funded vocational school, over 350 expat volunteer visits, prestigious awards, two NGOs established, over 200 acres of biofuel crops planted, and the development of a power platform to run on this fuel—all resulting in a better life for thousands of people in Senegal.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

Progress to Date: Proof of concept completed; 15 modified engines sold through loans;150 acres of jatropha planted in collaboration with 9 villages through a sharecropping scheme which employs 80 farmers; 10 new villages signed up for the 2011 jatropha planting season, totaling an additional 300 acres of bio fuel plantations.
Economically, we have created jobs through both manufacturing and plantation of biofuel crop. In terms of education, we’ve introduced new agricultural techniques (live fencing and intercropping), as well as GPS mapping. Environmentally, we are not only mitigating deforestation and erosion, but also minimizing carbon footprint by 1) replacing polluting engines run by diesel fuel with our modified lower CO2 output engines, and 2) planting jatropha, a plant known for helping sequester carbon dioxide.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Over the next 3 years, we will add 100 hectares of jatropha per year through our existing co-op mechanism; 2) we will import 80 diesel engines (to be modified locally) per year; 3) we will continue our research and development of new applications to run off our power platform (such as walk behind tractors, generators, water pumps, etc.); 4) we will use GPS mapping to help us monitor and solve plantation delineation issues between farmers; and 5) we will start pilot programs in neighboring countries of Mali, Mauritania, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Bourkina Faso.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

One challenge we have faced is that the Senegalese national government does not look favorably on fuel crops that use resources (such as water and arable land) that take away from food crops. To mitigate this conflict, we have implemented intercropping and live-fencing techniques (planting jatropha as fencing around fields to serve as windbreaks, perimeter demarcation, and barriers against hungry livestock) which minimize negative impact. A second challenge is that the price point of the jatropha in SVO form is still 25% more expensive than government-subsidized diesel, encouraging the end user to opt for the cheaper but more polluting diesel. The national branch of GEF (a co-funder of our project) sees this as problematic; we are presently discussing solutions to at least be on par costwise with petroleum-based fuels. A third challenge, well documented in the developing world, is unwillingness to accept and employ new ideas. Our solution has been to perform demonstrations in the village setting and to select people to use our engine free of charge for a period of time. Allowing others to see the impact the engine has on individuals, families, and communities has proven to be the catalyst in desire to adopt the technology for themselves.

Tell us about your partnerships

A grant from the World Bank Development Marketplace enabled us to develop and market test the outboard engine in Senegal. In 2010 we participated in the GSBI program at Santa Clara University, which helped us to strategize and plan for future growth. We are currently using the engine lab at Colorado State University to test the engine’s performance, while partners at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are helping us polish up the technology. Carl Bielenburg (Better World Workshop) and Tom Clark (outboard mechanic) both contribute invaluable technical assistance. Matthew Tompson (Lockheed Martin Engineer) is helping us develop a more efficient prop design. We are collaborating with the US-based nonprofit CogNative to expand, elevate visibility, and develop our applications.

Explain your selections

1) Individuals—we have received donations through CogNative, our 501(c)3
2) Foundations—Development Marketplace grant hosted by the World Bank and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Andandoo Foundation
3) Regional Government—We are working in coordination with the department of Kaolack (a region in Senegal) to implement the biofuel plantation protocol.
4) National government—We are working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Energy to facilitate introduction of our product and projects.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

To strengthen our project in the next 3 years, we have planned a second round of fundraising, continued development of partnerships with members of both our co-ops and Senegalese government agencies, and ongoing research and development--working with institutions such as MIT, CSU, SCU, and CogNative.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.




Lack of efficiency


Other (Specify Below)

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

1)Underemployment—Africans are migrating from their rural communities to the big cities, leaving behind their women, children, and elderly. With the combination of our power platform and locally-grown fuel, we are creating new opportunity for the rural context. 2) Lack of efficiency—Most farmers and fishermen use manual tools, which afford only subsistence living. With our power platform and its various applications, these farmers and fishermen now have access to appropriate mechanization, resulting in more productivity, ultimately enabling higher income.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.



Grown geographic reach: Multi-country


Grown geographic reach: Global

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

1) Within host country—We plan on extending our impact from the Kaolack region (Sine Saloum Delta), where we are currently operating, into the 17 surrounding regions of Senegal. 2) Multi-country--Next year we are starting a pilot in Bamako, Mali. 3) Globally--We plan to introduce our initiative into French Guyana and Bangladesh through small pilots in which our technology is adapted to run on locally-available fuel (palm oil in French Guyana and CNG in Bangladesh). We envision this expansion taking place in partnership with the US-based nonprofit CogNative.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

1) National and regional Senegalese government agencies are helping us promote and facilitate integration and adoption of our technology. 2) We are presently working in collaboration with Mali Biocarburant in technology sharing of jatropha biofuels. 3) MIT is helping us engineer a more efficient combustion system through the use of a swirl chamber. Santa Clara University, through the GSBI Fellowship, is continuing to mentor us on scaling and improving our social entrepreneurship business practice. Colorado State University is helping us in a similar way as Santa Clara through GSSE.