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AN ENTREPRENEUR WHO GIVES BACK:

Guillaume, the founder of Bio-Benin, was born into extreme poverty and educated himself out of it. Now he's doing the same for other Africans.


Guillaume Lonhoudjo, founder of Bio-Benin



BIO-BENIN educates young Beninese in:

-Restaurant-quality cooking (150+ over 15 years).

-Organic farming (In progress).

-Brewing craft beer (In progress).

Help Guillaume educate others in need so that they too can LEARN TO EARN their way out of poverty. He started with a primary school education and $20 in his pocket, taught himself French from grocery store labels, built his own restaurant with his bare hands, and learned how to brew craft beer from the internet.


Now he needs your help to rebuild a fishpond and expand his brewery to help train more students.


Please give generously. Every dollar counts.






La Natayaise, première bière artisanale au Benin. La Natayaise, first craft beer launched in Benin.



This is the face of entrepreneurism in West Africa! Guillaume Lonhoudjo worked tirelessly from 2016 to perfect his own artisanal beer, made from sorghum -- the first independently-brewed beer in Benin. Watch how this talented man fought his way up from poverty to find his place in the world and achieve major personal success.


Guillaume's Story


Guillaume Lonhoudjo, was born into extreme poverty in the West African country of Benin, a former French colony, once known as Dahomey, situated between Nigeria and Ghana on the Bay of Guinea.


The oldest of six children, he left school at 15 to help his father in the fields. His parents were so poor they could not afford his school uniform, books, and pencils, nor even the five-cent entry fee for Guillaume to see a puppet show at school. Often, when he went home for lunch there was nothing to eat.


After several years of hard labor, growing corn, cassava, and palm oil with his Dad, he persuaded his parents to let him pursue a better life. They gave him all they had -- a mere $20. First, he trained as a chauffeur, then worked in a grocery store, where he taught himself French by reading the labels on the goods he placed on the shelves. Next, he trained as a chef, learning how to cook delicious French and Moroccan food.


When I first met him, he had built his own restaurant with his bare hands His clients included tourists, ex-pats working in NGOs, and middle-class Beninese customers who loved his food and the jazz musicians who played at his restaurant.


For the past 10 years, during two years in the Peace Corps and subsequently while living in Montreal, Canada, I have worked with him to improve the restaurant, called Chez Guillaume. We have installed running water, flush toilets, a wood-fired pizza oven, new refrigerators, solar power, new tables and chairs, and an attractive outdoor garden with a pergola to protect clients from the sun.


With the gift of an iPad, Guillaume quickly taught himself how to brew beer, winning a UN Development Fund and World Bank grant to build a small brewery. He was also inspired by a visit to Woodstock, a craft brewery in Capetown. After several years of trial and error, he now produces an ale so delicious that the Belgians and Germans want their embassies to serve La Natayaise, his beer, at their receptions.


Guillaume has always helped others along the way, training hundreds of apprentices to cook delicious meals, 90% of whom are now gainfully employed as chefs. He also employs dozens of local women to help him make beer and bottle local fruit juices - mango, lemon, pineapple, orange, lemon, and baobab.


Three years ago, he asked me to help him buy farmland to grow organic vegetables for the restaurant, raise fish, poultry, and chickens, and train students to do all this organically, using solar power. Following this training will empower them to find jobs, help preserve the environment and live healthier lives.


Even during the Covid pandemic, all was going well. We bought 20 acres with a stream running through, installed solar power, and built a small farmhouse. We thought we were on our way to being self-sufficient by selling onions, garlic, potatoes, and fish.


But now Guillaume is in trouble. The Fishpond, where we hoped to raise tilapia for the restaurant and generate income, was wiped out by a ferocious rainstorm. The government has finally decided to give him a license to sell his beer but only if he makes improvements, which will cost $10,000. Once certified, the government will send him students to learn how to brew their own beer and work their own way out of poverty.


For now, terrorists in Burkina Faso, to the north, have wiped out tourism and most ex-pats never returned after Covid. Not enough local Beninese can afford to eat at his restaurant. He needs help and can't raise the money alone. Please reach out to www.bio-benin.org to help Guillaume and the hundreds of people he empowers with the knowledge they need to survive and thrive.


Julie Wang, Chairman of the Board and Treasurer, Bio-Benin

Peace Corps Volunteer, Bénin 2012-2014

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