In this new episode of Focus we’re in Senegal.
New economic development is a priority here, with attempts to encourage young entrepreneurs.
Certain SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) here have become role models in the country.
Sedima is one of them, a business that started from scratch and became a leader in the agro-food sector.
Anta Babacar Ngom Bathly, the General Manager, told Euronews:
“We started back in 1976 when the founder, Mr Babacar Ngom bought 120 chicks with 100 euros. That’s where it started.
“The story of Sedima and its 50 million euro turnover today began with the initial investment of 100 euros.”
The company has 430 staff but also works with more than 10,000 poultry producers across the country.
It has invested millions of euros in new technology and is also diversifying into other areas including flour production and even construction.
Bathily added: “Since last year we’re in Mali, in Bamako, Equatorial Guinea, Congo. The goal is to become one of the largest agro-food companies in Africa.”
Another leader is a start-up launched in 2008 by two young entrepreneurs, creating a digital financial platform across 60 countries, including a money transfer service.
There are more than a million transactions per day at the company’s service points.
Aicha Kouyate, Wari’s Secretary General, told Euronews: “Today Wari has succeeded in creating something avant-garde and setting up in places where before there were only global multi-nationals.”
Some 300 staff but also 45,000 indirect employees. This company has also diversified with new services and the recent purchase of Senegal’s second largest phone operator.
Euronews’ Serge Romni reported: “In recent years Senegal has recorded good growth rates of between 6 and 7 percent, with the goal of reaching double digits.
“But looking beyond those figures, what people here say is that growth must mean something in their daily lives, based on quality, and growth that’s inclusive, that makes a real difference in their lives.”
That means growth that everyone can benefit from.
Pierre Ndiaye is a man who knows that new economic development does not come without SMEs playing a key role.
Ndiaye, the Director General of Economic Planning and Policy in Senegal, said: “We want orderly growth, that’s inclusive, that leaves out no one in Senegal.
“And to do that individual entrepreneurs and SMEs must be taken into account.”
As access to finance is crucial for entrepreneurs, a bank and several specific funds are set aside for them. The goal is also to promote access to public contracts and boost innovation.
The cost of creating businesses has been cut in half, with the process now mostly happening online.
Mountaga Sy, the CEO of Invest in Senegal (Apix) told Euronews:
“These functioning digital platforms are going to be consolidated with the introduction of telebanking which will modernise the administration of Senegal, getting rid of paper, for transparency and efficiency in terms of security.”
It is hoped water and power connections will also be easier.
Sy said: “For water we’ve gone from 75 down to 20 days, for power we’ve gone from 80 to 48, as well as a 10 percent cut in power prices.”
Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily from Sedima said: “We’re taking the risk of investing in very remote villages.
For example, we went as far as Notto in a zone where some years ago there was no water, no power.
“And today, thanks to our infrastructure, we were able to put in place a new factory with a capacity for 40 million chicks per year.”
The success stories create a real dynamic in Senegal.
For the head of the financial platform, it is also about having confidence in yourself.
Kabirou Mbodje, the CEO of Wari, said: “Do it. Do it. Try, and don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not possible.”
Bathily added: “All of us are very ambitious. Today, for us, the sky’s the limit.”
And proof that things are moving here: investors around the world are showing keen interest.