Jatropha, a plant that can grow easily in tough environments and hailed as a huge potential breakthrough for biodiesel, was picked up by the New York Times. The article, focuses on the potential the plant has for transforming the economy of Mali. Most of the early buzz about the plant was dominated by the South East Asia region but the Times gives us some details on how entrepreneurs in Africa are trying to use this as a path toward development.
Here in Mali, a Dutch entrepreneur, Hugo Verkuijl, has started a company with the backing of investors and assistance from the Dutch government, to produce biodiesel from jatropha seeds.
Mr. Verkuijl, 39, an economist who has worked for nonprofit groups, is part of a new breed of entrepreneurs who are marrying the traditional aims of aid groups working in Africa with a capitalist ethos they hope will bring longevity to their efforts.
“An aid project will live or die by its funders,” Mr. Verkuijl said, but “a business has momentum and a motive to keep going, even if its founders move on.”