Small tourism entrepreneur in Mauritania: What Internet and viral sites like Facebook can do cheaply for these businesses

June 9, 2010 at 3:15 pm 1 comment

Down in the deepest of Mauritania, we met Sid Ahmed Nemoud. A man that knows what he is doing when it comes to entrepreneurship. Yet, here in Atar, it hasn’t been that easy. He owns the camping an Auberge “Inimi” located in the Adrar, the most important desert area of Mauritania. I decided to interview him in order to point out different ideas of  “service and experience” design; that can be relevant for small entrepreneurs. Secondly, I wanted to highlight the idea of what viral media and Internet can do for small entrepreneurs in rural areas by opening markets that are not always near or easy to penetrate. Design has a say in this type of things, and we have to acknowledge it in order to achieve social innovation in a partnership with the local communities.

Sid Ahmed had always been a guide an interpreter. From a Moor origin (born within the Nomads), he speaks several languages, within them, his native Arabic and a perfect French. Lack of security in Mauritania (because of some rebels; something that made the Paris-Dakar move from here to Chile and Argentina) made the numbers of tourist visits to reduce. Nonetheless I’d like to add that for us the trip has been really safe and with a lot of local hospitality included. This region, and especially Atar, were fed by those tourists that do not consider this area a destination any more. Lead by the wish to make for himself a business that could be more reliable in time (than the one of being just a guide), Isid Ahmed decided to create value by building and running his Auberge “Inimi”. “I did this in a lot of stages”, he says. With no help of any organization or fund, he constructed a beatiful and comfortable place to receive tourists, something very similar to what some Europeans would call “Rural-Tourism”. His wishes are based in the idea that, when Mauritania enjoys greater stability “tourists will come“…

Sid Ahmed is very concious about “virality”. Today, he mentions, he takes care of the individuals that stay with him devotely. He kind of “designs the experience”, in a very innate way, of the tourists that stay with him. “It is important to speak with the people, to treat them like friends, and they are, because they will bring others”. This is not new, yet to formalize it may be key for this entrepreneur to reach a successful enterprise. “I give the whole service, the people not only stay with me, but I give them advise about the tours, the people, the region. I can prepare food, the tea, and all in a gentle way”. Staying at Inimi gives you a taste of what living with a “Maure” (Moor) is. He asks to each of the individuals that make a visit to recommend him,I just ask the people for publicity, in the Internet, in their Facebook, wherever they can. They can just tell the truth about what is our business here“. He is preocupied of all the aspects of the experience, allowing you to just let-go….

Auberge “Inimi” enjoys publicity through a blog that a Czech tourist made for him. Though he enjoys of a good wireless connection in his computer, he hasn’t been really able to launch the site as he should. Internet can be a window to open new markets to the individuals in very closed or not-well connected market. Or even connect small and really targeted offerings with the correct audience. The key is to do it properly, with intention. We need to create the body that can organize these kind of entrepreneurs with the markets they are targeting. They are already doing things correctly from a service point of view, we need to help them to make it visible.
Hints from this post
01. Help or partner with small entrepreneurs to give them access to markets that they are not penetrating and that can be the perfect match for them.
Internet is a way to do it, is a window, check on initiatives like:

Entry filed under: Community, Internet.

After the Chilean Earthquake-Bio Reconstruyendo el Sur initiative Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability- Stanford 2010

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contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

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