Alhaji siraj Bah
- Year Selected: 2018
- Age at selection: 18
- Venture: Rugsal Trading
- Country: Sierra Leone
- Sector: Manufacturing
Alhaji was born in a small town in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. After struggling to find money to pay for his school fees. Through his factory job he managed to raise the equivalent of US $20 which he saved as seed capital for a business he hoped to start.
With only this $20, Alhaji started Rugsal Trading –a company that produces handcrafted paper bags as well as briquettes for cooking fuel. Aware of the negative environmental impact of plastic, Alhaji began making paper bag alternatives from sustainable materials. He also came up with an innovative concept to make briquettes made from coconut shells as an alternative to firewood and charcoal, which are significantly more harmful to the environment. Since he started the business, Alhaji has accumulated a steady stream of clients for his paper bags and briquettes, selling between 1500-2500 paper bags and around 600 briquettes a month to hotels, a local shopping complex several individual clients.
Alhaji hopes to scale his business to other countries in the region and continue to help mitigate the impact of deforestation and environmental degradation by promoting eco-friendly alternatives to plastic and charcoal.