In a previous article entitled “Entrepreneurship as a driving force” published on 11/23/2020, I explained my conception of business creation. Before presenting the skills, the challenges and the impacts associated with this atypical profession, it is important to recall this concept.
My concept of entrepreneurship
In my opinion, entrepreneurship is expressed through action. It is a great way to harness our talents and put them at the service of society, to contribute to its wealth by creating new jobs and new products and services.
Entrepreneurship is also a form of expression of great ambition. I’m not speaking about the personal ambition of earning more money, but about the organizational ambition that allows us through our actions to inspire other young people to dream higher, to believe in themselves, and to act effectively to experience success and personal achievement.
The skills of the entrepreneur
I do not claim to know the absolute truth about the essential skills it takes to be an entrepreneur. Very modestly, I am only bringing my empirical contribution. I have often been asked how one becomes the General Manager of a group as diversified as Locafrique at thirty years of age.
I always answer that you become so through hard work, faith in the future, and the ability to surround yourself with talent. Very often, we had to go against the grain of recommendations. People in good faith will tell you that you do not make this or that particular investment, given the real or perceived risk involved. Leading a group like Locafrique hints at agreeing to step out of your comfort zone, to “fall seven times and get up eight times” to paraphrase a Japanese proverb. It also implies having a strong mind and a capacity for rock-solid resilience. You should know, however, that this is not a long and quiet river…
The challenges of the entrepreneur
The challenges of entrepreneurship in Senegal are multifaceted. I will only name two.
First and foremost, the primary challenge, and most important in my opinion, is our socio-cultural environment. Success in business is always suspect in the eyes of others, as if success was never within reach for someone who works hard and honestly. It often takes a strong mind to face public rumor and slander of all kinds. The business world can often be cruel to newcomers. You have to be prepared for it.
The second challenge is related to financial inclusion. Entrepreneurship in Senegal often faces the nagging question of financing the real economy through the banking sector. How many young and not-so young people, despite good projects, have not been supported by the banking sector due to a lack of first-rate guarantees.
Financial inclusion remains, in my opinion, an imperative alongside the improvement of the business environment for which efforts have been made.
Without being any chauvinistic, my conviction has always been that the national private sector must create powerful private banks, capable of financing the strategic sectors of the economy.
Our participation in the economic development of Senegal
At Locafrique, I firmly believe that we have a proven impact on the development of our country. This might be difficult to quantify in the absence of factual measures.
Nevertheless, saying that we contribute in a very positive way to creating wealth and employments in Senegal have turned out a true consensus. For example, at Locafrique, we employ more than 150 people within the group, the majority of who are executives.
In the specific sector of agriculture, we can argue to have played a crucial role in the mechanization of rice cultivation by being the first private investment in the Senegal River Valley through the financing of Locafrique Credit Institution.
A study by IPAR (Initiative Prospective Agricultural and Rural) showed that more than 40% of rice-growing land in the valley is worked with equipment financed by Locafrique, in addition to financing a dozen industrial rice-hulling units.
To conclude, being a Senegalese entrepreneur entails wishing to contribute positively to the development of our country. To do so, we must roll up our sleeves and act promptly; otherwise no one will do it for us. The state, despite all its efforts, cannot ensure development on its own; the nation needs the support and contribution of all its daughters and sons.