102 posts tagged entrepreneur
102 posts tagged entrepreneur
Thirty-year-old Cynthia Jadot is the woman behind Valancy. The store in Goma, in the DRC province of North Kivu, has done well, appealing to men and women with a penchant for quality clothes imported from Europe. But since Valancy’s launch three years ago, this businesswoman has also opened two other new shops and, somewhere in between, ran for a seat in parliament.
Mélanie Gouby recently spoke to Jadot about her experiences of retail, gender and politics in the DRC.
What was your toughest challenge?
It was to launch in a country with so many problems. I kept wondering if I wasn’t making a big mistake. What scared me at the beginning was the fact that I was starting from nothing, in a war-torn African country with major security issues, not knowing if it would take actually take off. But I was prepared to go through all that and prove there are also opportunities here, amidst all the negative stories about the DRC, Goma mainly.
What are you most proud of?
My greatest satisfaction is being able to say that I tried, that I took a leap and succeeded, although I still have a lot to accomplish. I am proud to have returned home after so many years in Europe. In my desire to set up a business, I also created jobs. It’s also a source of satisfaction to know that people have jobs thanks to me.
How do you see the future of business in Goma?
There is so much potential in Goma and Congo, in general, despite everything that is going on. There are so many opportunities here; it’s an untapped market. I encourage people to try, despite the numerous uncertainties at the beginning. There is virtually no structure or infrastructure on the ground so everything needs to be built from scratch. That’s the DRC’s problem and its advantage. When opening my store in Kinshasa, I was hesitant because there were already so many other stores.
So, you can see, in health, in power, we are going to go to the market very soon to raise a Eurobond of about a billion dollars for the power sector. We know that power is what we need in this country; that’s what we have focused on. So, all that money will make gas available to fire the power and the emergency gas plan of the Minister of Petroleum Resources has already been yielding results in terms of making gas available to make our power situation better. But we want to support them to improve even more. So, we raise resources for that.
And the education sector – we’ve also raised money for states that have challenges: Bauchi, Ekiti, Anambra – so many of the states to benefit from that. In ICT we’ve raised resources. And aviation, housing – I can just say almost every sector of the economy – I’m proud to say we’ve done that. The Nexim Bank has also used resources to support trade for our economy; export-import bank which is under the Ministry of Finance.
Let me just mention one interesting thing. We have supported the empowerment of women in the ministry through devoting some resources – 3 billion naira – to specific programs in five pilot ministries like Agriculture, Health, Water Resources, ICT and so on that focus on works, focus on delivering for women.
For example, the Ministry of Works said that they will make more women contractors, sub-contractors. They will increase the number that will get contracts and jobs because women are not favoured and we have said that when they do it, we will support them with additional disbursement from this N3 billion. So we are encouraging support for women within this budget and that is something that the President really supports. So, these are some of the things we are doing.
Finally, we are supporting job creation. We are managing some job creation programmes apart from what we are doing for the real sectors of the economy, mobilising money for them in addition to the budget to create jobs like the 3.5 million jobs targeted by Agriculture in 2015.
It’s the resources we help mobilise that will help them deliver that. But we are also managing some direct job creation being undertaken and implemented by government.
Just a couple of examples which you know – we have the program that was mentioned by the Honourable Minister of Information, the YouWIN program of Mr President – this is his program – and I’m happy to tell you this is one of the most popular programs in Nigeria. From the first round we did, we have already created 14,000 jobs all over all parts of the federation. This is just the first survey. The second survey, maybe another 14,000 – that’s almost 30,000. The second round we just launched for women only and the third round we’re going to launch for men and women, the target of 80,000 to 110,000 jobs is easily reachable. This program is surpassing our expectations in terms of job creation and we’re very proud of our young entrepreneurs who are doing this.
We are also managing the Graduate Internship Program. Our objective there is to place 50,000 graduate interns with private sector. Over 1,000 private sector firms have applied. We have placed so far 1,309 graduates and we’re working very hard to speed up to place all the 50,000 who have been processed as qualified to participate in this scheme.
And of course, we were previously supporting the community services program designed to create 370,000 jobs a year. We’ve moved that to the ministry of labour now, but I want to tell you that 178,000 jobs have already been created. And people who have seen these people working in the field, building ditches, doing drains, maintaining buildings have reported that they’re there and the jobs are real. So, these are some of the things that we have tried to do within the ministry to support the job creation agenda.
I could go on and on. We actually need more time but let me just stop here and say that Ministry of Finance is a multi-faceted ministry that is delivering day by day on the budget, on the additional finances for the sectors of the country, on managing direct job creation programs and on supporting the sectors – I haven’t even told you the things we do to support power through the bulk trader, to manage the debts of NEMCO, to push the various sectors along.
We are doing so much more than we have time to share today and we are achieving results.
Ghanaian tech startup Saya Mobile finished top of the 20 most prospective tech startups to watch in Africa.
Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Saya, Badu Boahen Amankwah would add that Saya also allows user to chat with friends on Facebook and also has a feature called ‘Street Chat’ which enable users to join a location-based chat with other users around one’s location.
Saya was founded in October 2011 and was officially launched in March 2012 in Accra, Ghana.
IFC’s recent $2.5 million investment in Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda will help improve access to finance for smaller businesses and other borrowers, especially those living and working in rural areas.
Divine Masters Limited is a Uganda-based business involved in the production and trade of soya beans, maize and rice. The company was started in 2007 by entrepreneur Orisa Raphael Jawino and currently works with 12,000 out-grower farmer families.
His advice to other Africans looking to expand their agribusiness ventures is to make sure that they develop their communication and management skills in order to align their resources properly.
“And also investment into research and development; that should be key to the business,” he added.
Swaady Martin-Leke was one of the panellists at the launch of the inaugural WIE Africa (which stands for Women, Inspiration and Enterprise) symposium in Cape Town.
Cote d’Ivoire-born Swaady Martin-Leke is the founder and CEO of YSWARA, a newly launched African tea company that is targeted at the higher-end consumer market. The company is based in South Africa, but sources its teas from across the continent. According to Martin-Leke, the luxury market in Africa offers increasing opportunities with the steady growth in the African middle class and discretionary income.
Before starting YSWARA, Martin-Leke spent eleven years of her career with General Electric. How we made it in Africa asked her to tell us a bit more about the tea market in Africa and her advice to other aspiring African women entrepreneurs.
Describe some of the challenges you face in running this business.
Building a luxury brand fully African-made presents tremendous challenges which my team and I are still overcoming every day. Today, our product is about 90% made in Africa and we have a target to reach 100% by end of next year. The main challenge is that our Africa industrial fabric is not made for high-quality goods produced at a competitive cost relative to China or India. We struggled to find suppliers who source or manufacture their products in Africa. Then, when world-class quality is met, the consistency is not guaranteed. For example, our tea tin manufacturer just closed this month and there is no alternative in sub-Saharan Africa.
Our artisans are mostly not set up to scale their activities and are often paralysed by the prospect of growing their business beyond the “enough-to-live” stage. As a luxury brand, we cannot afford any inconsistency in quality nor sub-standard quality levels. We are competing with international brands, benchmarking ourselves to the best as we want to grow big. On the export side, the cost of exporting outside of Africa is still too high. This is hampering growth of internet sales as well as opportunities to export out of Africa globally. Despite all these setbacks, we are persevering and most of them turned out to be unexpected sources of strength.
As I was sharing those challenges with a wise mentor, he advised that “everything that is too easy is also easily replicable”.
Unique Wonder Rabbits
For sale sign in Karantina, Kenya. Photo taken by Niti Bhan in April 2013
Mali gum producer standing next to a gum Karaya tree. (Image Credit: Root Capital)
“Don’t worry,” she told us, “I’m two hours south of Bamako where Mali hasn’t closed a single day for business despite all the craziness up north. It’s a huge country, and everyone here knows they’re much better off trading than fighting.”
By “everyone” Diaka meant the roughly 2,000 formerly unemployed village youth who, not long ago, might have been prime recruits for Islamic groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb. They inhabit the harsh drylands of West Africa, famous for extreme poverty, drought and food insecurity.
But in Mali’s southern villages, gums, not guns, are proliferating. These natural gums are being harvested from trees that grow wild across the African Sahel, and exported to Europe to meet rising demand for their use in products from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics to baked goods.
Since 2008, an agricultural business named Produits du Sud, has trained unemployed youth to conserve and tap the gum Arabic and gum Karaya trees for their high-value resins, rather than clear them for cattle land, which exacerbates the region’s harsh conditions.
Behind Produits du Sud are two local entrepreneurs, Amidou Sissako and Charles Ndoye, who are so successful, they’ve exceeded even their own expectations for growth, expanding exports to Europe 10-fold while payments to farmers have jumped from $17,000 in 2008 to more than $1 million in 2012.
Produits du Sud offers a microcosm for how such small and growing agricultural businesses can foster long-term peace and prosperity in one of the most troubled regions of the world.
From the humblest of beginnings, Bethlehem has built soleRebels into the planet’s fastest growing African footwear brand and the very first global footwear brand to ever emerge from a developing nation.
She has created world class jobs, and empowered her community and country, whilst presenting a galvanized, dynamic face of African creativity to the global market.
Bethlehem was born and raised in the Zenabwork/Total area of Addis Ababa, one of the most impoverished and marginalized communities of Ethiopia. Growing up Bethlehem saw that Ethiopia had plenty of charity “brands” but not a single global brand of its own, so she set out to change all that. In early 2005, fresh out of college in Addis Ababa, Bethlehem founded the trailblazing footwear company soleRebels to provide solid community-based jobs. Tapping into her community’s and the nation’s rich artisan wealth and heritages, Bethlehem started re-imagining what footwear could be.
Seven years, many shoes and hundreds of creative, dignified and well paying jobs later, soleRebels is the planet’s fastest growing African footwear brand and the world’s first and only World Fair Trade Federation [WFTO] Fair Trade certified footwear company. Constantly elevating the idea of what her brand can achieve, Bethlehem has led soleRebels to become the first ever brand from a developing nation to open branded, stand-alone retail stores around the globe including in Asia and the EU. soleRebels is on track to be the first global branded retail chain from a developing nation to open 100 stores and achieve over $100 million USD in revenues by 2017.