Entrepreneurship is not well taught in the Ivorian education system. But you’ll meet many people with business ideas. The problem seems to be the implementation. After spending a small amount of time in Abidjan you’ll meet a certain character that many people will quickly recognise – the sad-faced Monsieur Dossier. In fact, I find them in the Ivorian community in Dubai as well.
Mr X has a business idea. In fact it’s the best business idea ever – it could only succeed (you don’t dare tell him otherwise). The idea is not just written in his head. Oh no, he has it under his arm – typed up on paper. And to show you how serious it is, it also has a handfull of associated official papers, and stamped sheets showing how it has been submitted to many different authorities.
Ah, but here is the rub. These big people show bad faith towards the idea. They are very complementary in person, but then they don’t return calls and don’t write back as promised. Photocopies of the dossier have been dropped off at various ministries and organisations but without success.
And so Mr X, our Ivorian entrepreneur, has a sad face. He feels the weight of an enormous moral injustice, that his great idea (that could only succeed) is being neglected by those who could make it a success. “Ils sont mechants” (they are bad/naughty/wicked).
The belief, widely held and unchallenged by the dossier brigade, is that the big people’s job is to throw their money at untested ideas by untested people. They don’t need to invest any money in their own project or perhaps even start the project with what (little) they have. Instead, they are entirely at the mercy of the big people – a passive victim of unfair people. Dare I say, it’s very francophone.
Don’t ask these people the following questions:
– are you sure your idea will work?
– why don’t you start the project with what you can rather than thinking you need to start big?
– do you really know anything about the sector you’re hoping to work in?
– why don’t you try getting money from people/customers rather than institutions, and especially government?