The Republic of Benin is in the process of becoming the innovation and entrepreneurship hub of West Africa and to achieve its objective, the government has launched several programs and funds dedicated to this purpose.
Over time, there has been a willingness on the part of the country’s political system and young people who are increasingly investing in entrepreneurship.
This of course is remarkable, however, there is still a lot of groundwork to be done, particularly in terms of incubators and, above all, the appropriate support plan.
We had a chat with Richard G. Odjardo an African serial entrepreneur of Beninese nationality and Chief Executive Officer of AS World Tech.
Richard has been an entrepreneur at the age of 14 when he invented the AS Watch V7 after losing both his smartphones at a party.
Growing up, he has been involved in the digital transformation of Africa for more than 5 years in both the private and public sectors.
Richard contributed to the drafting of the Manifesto for Innovative Entrepreneurial Policies in Africa by the organization i4policy and is the manager of Initiative For Africa in Benin, an international association working in the field of entrepreneurship and leadership in Africa.
He is the trainer of the “Boost with Facebook ” program initiated by Facebook and promoter of the IER program, Internet Education and Success.
About AS World
Speaking about the AS World Tech, Richard said that AS (Asuka Spirit) means “warrior, protector, heroic spirit” in the Fongbe language of the Republic of Benin.
“In the global technological universe, where our values and cultures are absent, it gives us our place in the concert of nations. We innovate with technological products that respect Africa, that solve our problems and accompany us in our daily lives”
According to Richard, the vision of AS World Tech is to become the leader of technological products in Africa and be able to train local engineers in order to produce in Africa and create employment, boost the entrepreneurship of young people and prove to Africans that “the African dream” is possible.
While stating its mission, Richard noted that AS world is set to innovate, train, help and create quality employment.
“To accompany the new Africa in its development while maintaining our identity. To protect the environment by investing part of our profits in educating young people about environmental protection so that we can leave a healthier world for our children”
Stating the organization’s core value, Richard commented, “because we believe in the power of community synergy, cultural diversity and skills brought together around a common vision.
In order to bring innovative solutions to our communities, we must encourage and allow creativity to flourish without limit.
Reliability, from our products to our team to you, we place a premium on reliability! We must be able to build trust in our relationships and this is achieved through originality and quality assurance of our products and services.”
Challenges faced by Benin Entrepreneurs
On the challenges facing an average entrepreneur in the Republic of Benin and the opportunities available for them, Richard mentioned that the challenges are the training to upgrade the skills of entrepreneurs.
“For a quality entrepreneurial ecosystem, a quality training and follow-up plan is needed, not to mention inclusive financing levers.”, Richard noted
Richard on his part as the CEO of AS World Tech stated, “We have encountered difficulties at the seed level, in research and development and the biggest difficulty is financial. Banks do not give much interest to startups because of the risks and this is a big brake.
As advice, I recommend that entrepreneurs invest in taking into account the real needs of the market. You have to get in touch with the people to better understand their problems in order to provide effective and practical solutions. Keep in mind that innovation can be in the process, in the customer service and not only in the products.
Be persistent and have a clear vision of the objectives. Do not neglect the fact of being surrounded by a good team that shares the vision of the startup or the company.”
State of financing for francophone startups
According to Richard, francophone startups are still on the scale of 2/10. This as explained by him is due to the fact that funding globally is not yet interested in French-speaking countries because of the low purchasing power of the population and the heavy and very slow administrative protocols.
“The funding of startups cannot depend only on the public sector. the private sector and international investment funds are the most expected and to attract them we must constantly innovate to prove our ability to execute and create unicorn companies or startups”
How African entrepreneurs can get positioned for financing
As stated by Richard, African entrepreneurs need to be able to go into promising sectors of activity that scare them.
This can be achieved by them proposing one or more added values in order to make the difference and interest international investment funds.
“Raising funds is good, but it’s even better to have clients ready to spend their money with joy. this is what we do at AS World Tech.”
We bring adapted solutions, innovative, practical, reliable and accessible products that promote growth, creativity and joie de vivre. Our products and services reassure and inspire. Product design must be rigorously treated.
We must prove that in Africa we can create products worthy of international consumption.”
Richard said that AS World Tech plans to set up local assembly and production plants in a progressive manner.
“We will train local engineers in African countries and set up a co-creation process with users in order to have high-level user experiences. The future is in Africa and Africa is us.
Africa can’t do anything without local synergy. That’s why we are all about Shining Together and to do that we need to take action now and together.”
Featured Image: Richard G Odjardo, CEO, AS World Tech
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