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How a deadly mudslide moved Alhaji Siraj Bah to start his impact business with 20$ in Sierra Leone

Many people that want to start a business, but haven’t, will tell you that they need more money or a better point in time. Alhaji however, couldn’t afford to wait for more money or a better point in time to kick off his business Rugsal Trading in Sierra Leone.

Born in Kono district, Sierra Leone, his dad died when he was 12 years old and Alhaji moved to Freetown to further his education. To survive, he took on odd jobs around the city, all the while living on the street or staying with friends. One morning, coming home from work, he learned, that all 7 members of his adopted family had died in a mud-slide that killed over a thousand people, sparing Alhaji only because he was working a night-shift in a water bag factory.

On television he learned, that the situation was caused or at least aggravated by the deforestation and poor waste management in the capital.

That is when the then 17 year old, decided to look into the environmental reasons for the mud slide and the floods and do something about it. He started his environmentally friendly manufacturing business, Rugsal Trading with 20$ he saved.

The business, which is in handcrafted paper bag and charcoal based on coconut shell production, is now giving employment to several dozen people and creating an environmental impact in his community and country.

We won’t take away too much here except for: This interview is so worth watching and learning from.

Full interview also on Podcast via AfricaX Podcast Page.

– Rugsal Trading on Facebook:
– Alhaji Siraj Bah on Instagram:
– Profile on Anzisha:
– CNN Coverage on Alhaji:


Thomas is initiator of, co-founder of ecological sanitation company EcoToiletten, digital automation agency Strandschicht and the non-profit tackling youth empowerment YES Founders Foundation. He co-authored a book on Youth-led Changemaking and coaches entrepreneurs on resilience and mental well-being.