Bringing a project into life, turning an idea driving us, or making us vibrate into reality and which becomes our overriding ambition, is the feeling shared by many entrepreneurs with ground-breaking projects.
But the difficulties arising from that are multiples and often linked to one single problem: the lack of proper funds.
How many might promising ideas never have seen the light of day without outside help to finance them and accompany them in their development?
This is an issue all the more relevant today in Senegal since the West African region is confronted with a serious lack of attention from investors, despite many bright talents with innovating ideas. Of course, banks may give the illusion of being a solution, but they rarely have adequate financing in accordance with each stage of young companies’ entrepreneurial projects.
We can indeed observe a large financing gap for young companies. However, other alternatives exist to allow project holders to join the entrepreneurial ecosystem, because yes, the promising future of Senegalese projects is being felt.
Crowdfunding platforms are emerging in Senegal and are becoming an increasingly useful and fruitful solution for financing our Senegalese entrepreneurs. Accompanying structures are flourishing, some of them with already well-known names.
This is where actors with a revealing name, the business angels, come in; or in a literary translation, ‘business angels.’ People involved in the world of innovation decide to support start-ups that they consider to have high potential and added value, thus enabling new companies to thrive. In this way, business angels offer a financial investment but also share their skills, experience, and network.
Financing through the investment trust Teranga capital
The first high-impact private equity company dedicated to financing and supporting high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Senegal bears the name of Teranga Capital. Teranga Capital was designed to give Senegalese entrepreneurs the means to realise their projects by providing them with financing and strategic support.
At the head of this investment fund is business angel Olivier Furdelle, the founder and managing director of Teranga Capital. After having co-founded his own start-up and worked as an independent consultant specialising in private equity and SME financing in Africa, he decided to create his own investment fund to help small Senegalese companies structure themselves.
So far, Teranga Capital has invested in about fifteen companies. Among them, La Vivrière, a Senegalese SME specialised in the processing and marketing of local cereals, has received several awards from the European Union.
In 2019, La Vivrière became the Senegalese African cereal company, thanks to the investment of Teranga Capital. This partnership has brought La Vivrière into contact with stakeholders, support for reflections on the start-up’s national development, and a structure for the development of management methods and tools. So many skills and know-how are necessary for a young company to develop.
Dakar Network Angels, the new network of angel investors
Since March 2019, another network of business angels has emerged, the Dakar Network Angels (DNA). This Dakar-based investment fund was created under the impulse of Mareme Diop. There, investors choose the projects they are interested in supporting and then provide them with personalised support.
The network currently includes 31 potential investors across four continents. These ‘angel’ investors share their expertise with high-growth start-ups and bring in capital to provide high-value solutions. This enables the selected start-ups to solve problems that would be difficult to overcome without support.
By way of example, the start-up Coliba was the first company to be supported by DNA. Coliba is a start-up that uses technology through web and mobile applications to promote the recycling of plastic waste. This innovative project was able to appeal to DNA, which granted it a USD$25,000 fundraising, thereby permitting it to evolve more rapidly without financial constraints.
Concree, an accompanying partner for start-ups
Business angel’s community does not stop there. Others are emerging, such as Concree, created by Babacar Birane. Concree refers to itself as a virtual tutoring service that aims at boosting the start-up ecosystem in Senegal. The founder Babacar Birane himself, co-founded Baobab corporation entrepreneurship, a web platform with the ambition to solve human resources issues.
Concree is the first step in implementing Baobab entrepreneurship’s mission by bringing together business angels and project leaders. Before any partnership, Concree has indicators that allow investors to follow the evolution of entrepreneurial projects in order to make the decision to invest, and this, at the right time. Each entrepreneur has the possibility to find a collaborator and a mentor who will accompany him/her throughout the development of the start-up.
The start-up incubator, the African Participatory Investment, a tailor-made support
Confronted with the difficulties encountered by the West African country in attracting the attention of investors, another investment fund has been created, with the aim of bringing the light on our young Senegalese entrepreneurs who find themselves limited or even hindered by the financial system: The African Participatory Investment. This investment fund, launched in 2015, is an incubator that targets three to four SMEs per year.
The objective of the AIP is to provide tailor-made support, to enter into the capital of the SME, and then to withdraw after a five-year period of support to allow the project holder to become autonomous. This desire for emancipation is essential to the African Participatory Investment Company, which hopes to see its entrepreneurs one day take the place of business angels in its network.
We couldn’t close this article without speaking of our latest business angel, which is none other than Khadim Bâ. Today, as General Manager of the West African Leasing Company Locafrique, the number one leasing bank in Senegal, he aspires to add more strings to his bow by facilitating young project holders to turn their ideas into reality.
Aware of the new economic issues affecting young companies, Khadim Bâ has now made it his mission to work with them to participate in the deployment of high value-added start-ups through a financing fund. If you are interested in financing your business project, developing your growth plans, and benefiting from a network in Senegal, we invite you to contact him by visiting his brand-new website about his work as a Business Angel.
Several solutions do exist today to promote Senegal’s potential. The lack of funds and the absence of investment should no longer justify the absence of entrepreneurial projects. Nothing should justify the halting of a promising project. Our country is full of talent with innovative ideas, so we encourage you to do your utmost to make your idea blossom and turn it into your own start-up.