Mansôa, a small rural town in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa lacks almost everything, from basic access to public electricity to essential facilities… as do many rural towns and villages across Africa.
As a business owner, I (Mike Tavares) make a living by keeping my businesses profitable – one of these being Ojimah, but without forgetting their main purpose: to give my contribution to develop Africa.
I suppose this sense of changing the narrative and uplifting the continent has to do with the fact that I left the continent at the tender age of six to go to boarding school in Europe without my parents. So, from six to 17 years old I was raised in a European catholic boarding school where I learnt the values and principles of life (but without ever forgetting my origins). Consider the emotional sacrifice my parents made, the tears my mum (and every other African parent who has been forced to make this tough decision) must have shed. Consider also the emotional toll it would have had on a six-year-old – it was really tough.
Last year (2022) my father and I bought a plot in one of these small rural towns – Mansôa, in Guinea-Bissau. It is a small but strategic town located at the intersection of three different regions of the country. Nevertheless, Mansôa lacks almost everything, from basic access to public electricity to essential facilities for service providers. To give an idea, the nearest banks or agent to top up the phone is around two and a half hours drive by public transport.
Six months ago, the construction started, and the local community got extremely excited. Obviously, they understand the impact that this project will bring to their community, from generating jobs to bringing life to the region.
The project consists of building the facilities that will host the following services:
-Orange and MTN Agency (Mobile network)
-Exchange services: including Western Union, Moneygram and Orange Money.
-Internet facility open to the public
-Amphitheater for 220 pax
And as there is no access to public electricity, most of the complex will be powered by solar energy! This project will increase overall growth and develop structures that will provide a better life and standard of living for the people in that community.
In addition, we have also supportted a local primary school by providing school materials and hygiene products from notebook, pencils and printers to masks and clothes.
Winston Churchill once said that “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
I get more than any bank account can hold by touching lives and being able to make a difference to so many through my projects. At the end of the day when it’s all said and done, “Your legacy is every life you’ve touched”.
Words & images – Mike Tavares