I attended an interesting meeting last night organised by the Akendewa association called ‘Cafe Carrefour des Possibles’, an evening for Ivorian entrepreneurs to present six ideas to the public who select two from the six to go to to a regional event in Burkina Faso. The six projects were for a locally-made amplification system, a weather-service for Ivorian farmers, an aquarium project which features above ground as well as below, an information service for farmers, a website for news cartoons, and a web platform for home tele-working. The projects were at various stages of development, but I’d make the following points:
– business talk is frequently very direct, something francophones aren’t always great at handling. Simple questions, require simple answers, and any fluff and ambiguitity is only going to scare off investors.
– when appealing for investment, you always have to explain away a slight paradox – you want to convince someone that you have a project that will make money, but yet you’re looking for someone to give you money. You need to answer the question – if your project is so good, why are you here asking for money and not driving a Porsche Cayenne around Abidjan?
– Some businesses in Abidjan are built around the economic model of having someone very rich (normally the government) give someone a lot of money to do something. I suppose it’s business of sorts, but it’s not really the entrepreneurial creation of a service/product for which ordinary people pay for that allows you to come out with a profit.
– entrepreneurs didn’t always understand the building blocks of their business. What is the basic element and what are the costs associated with it? How many products do you need to sell to break even and when will that happen? If the ‘bricks’ work as a unit, then you can build the house.
– some entrepreneurs had identified a good niche which creates an opportunity, but then the next step went wrong and the answer to the identified was way to expensive and impracticable to realistically answer the problem.