Masanga Hospital Sustainability Enterprises (“MHSE”)

The vision of MHSE is create businesses in the Masanga community, with strong links to Commercial Partners in Europe, that will ultimately grow to  fund around one third of the running cost of the hospital and thereby strengthen the financial sustainability and at the same time generate local economic development, economic growth and jobs.

An important part in this vision is to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships with Commercial Partners in Europe (so far exclusively in Denmark) that create value for both partners and are healthy enough to continue when the project is turned over to 100% local leadership. Sierra Leone has become one of the highest growth economies in Africa (albeit from a low base) – representing an important market opportunity for many international businesses. For these companies Masanga has something to offer. Besides the economic aspect, the story about MASANGA Hospital plays a strong part in our Commercial Partners’ Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) strategies.

We are always keen to welcome new Commercial Partners for both our current businesses and for future business opportunities.

Local management

The Business Manager is Wusu Conteh who lives in Masanga and with the support of MHSE is striving to build successful businesses. He has 16 local workers employed in the different businesses and is periodically assisted by an intern from Europe.

The Businesses

Bikes piled up ready for repair

Used bikes imported from Denmark ready for repair

Today MHSE includes a bicycle workshop, restoring used, donated bikes and selling them on the local market. The damaged rubber inner tubes are being recycled and transformed into various fashion products at the tailor workshop, such as computer bags. The products are sold as Fair trade products in Denmark (www.bangura.dk). The agriculture business is now mainly a nursery responding to a growing demand for palm trees both by locals and bigger plantations. We also have a canteen, a kiosk and a Carpentry shop primarily servicing the hospital.

The Carpentery Shop

The Carpentry Shop

Progress so far

The business potential in Sierra Leone is huge. However, despite considerable efforts, MHSE has experienced many difficulties in generating a surplus for the hospital. Experience to date has been characterized by many exciting initiatives, started by different volunteers who each had their own strategy for how the businesses should be managed – but few of these plans have been successfully followed through to a level where they made a difference.

In 2012 MHSE set out on a new track by defining a new strategy that resulted in the first donation to the hospital in June 2013. We have made the business section leaner to concentrate our effort on what we do best and where the short term potential is greatest. We also plan to strengthen the local management ability to communicate with the Commercial Partners in Europe to facilitate closer cooperation and support through their CSR programmes. We also plan to increase the use of interns with the specific skills needed to develop local capability in our businesses.

The primary focus in the last 6 months has been on our bicycle workshop, tailor workshop and tree nursery.

An intern has trained the local Business Manager in accounting, report writing and using email, enabling us to make better long term plans and facilitate more effective support.

The next intern in autumn 2013 will focus on accelerating sales – we now have a range of popular products of good quality but are still experiencing low sales. We will find new sales agents in Europe for selling our fashion bags, but we also see great potential in Sierra Leone where sales so far have only been to locals in the Masanga village and volunteers.

Future potential

We have earlier gained experience in producing soap from palm oil for the hospital. Production was stopped because our soap was not cheaper than other locally produced soap. At the appropriate time we will restart production targeting European markets using the MASANGA brand to connect sanitation and health to the story of the rebuilt hospital in the colourful jungle.

Another plan in waiting is to start a construction firm. We have local workers that have gained experience and knowhow from the past five years of rebuilding the hospital. Our project is still expanding and the general growth in Sierra Leone creates a market waiting to be met. Many other plans are being prepared to launch when ready; including our own sustainable produced palm oil and a travel agency that offers donors a unique experience and opportunity to see the project for themselves. Please contact masangabusiness@gmail.com if you are interested in becoming our partner in any of this – or other projects.