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The International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) brings a groundbreaking project to the Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI). Located in Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou, 2iE was born out of the merger of two institutions: the Rural Equipment Engineering School and the Rural Equipment and Hydraulic Technicians School. It enrolls more than 2,000 students on-site and about 1,500 in online courses.

The university’s focus – as its name implies – is on water, energy, environmental and civil engineering. 2IE offers undergraduate and masters level training in fields such as Water and Sanitation, Civil Engineering and Mines, and Environment and Managerial Sciences. It is the first African school accredited under the French Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur (or Engineering Title Commission). The bilingual higher education institute and research center boasts a job placement rate of 95 percent. Part of this success can be accredited to 2IE’s extensive network of partners in financial, academic, scientific and business fields.

The Youth Economic Participation Initiative collaborates with 2iE’s Technopôle business incubator, an on-campus ecosystem that combines training, research, and business development for student and recent graduates of the institute. Technopole’s “Promoting science-based social entrepreneurship in Africa” trains scientists and engineers to become entrepreneurs with a social focus.

The center is currently incubating three social businesses: FasoPro, Teco², and NenuPV. FasoPro is an agribusiness project that makes dietary supplements out of shea caterpillars, a highly nutritious larva that consists of 63% protein. Teco² produces roofs from recycled materials that are affordable for the local population and help keep houses cool despite Burkina Faso’s blazing temperatures. NenuPV produces innovative blankets for solar energy production and anti-evaporative effects. An additional three businesses are in the pre-incubation stage: Faso Soap, BioTraQ, and EcoCim.

At 2iE, entrepreneurship training is not an isolated add-on to traditional studies, but rather is integrated directly throughout the curriculum and student experience at 2iE. Students in all disciplines have the opportunity to take business and entrepreneurship classes as part of their studies, or engage in a 5-month comprehensive “Entrepreneurial track” training. The university additionally offers an innovative MBA program in Eco-Innovation and Entrepreneurship and an annual Business Plan Competition. This year’s competition is currently underway, with 17 business ideas (out of 67) still in competition leading to the June 2014 final.