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THE GOLDEN ELEPHANT

TRUMPETS:
« HOW COTE D'IVOIRE COULD HELP
TRANSFORM ITS STARTUPS TO BECOME
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
CHAMPIONS»

A WHITE PAPER PRESENTING 64 RECOMMENDATIONS


FROM THE STARTUP ECOSYSTEM PARTICIPANTS OF COTE D'IVOIRE

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SUMMARY

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS............................................................................................................3-4
FACTS AND FIGURES........................................................................................................................5
THE RECOMMENDATIONS…........................................................................................................6-14
CONTACT US..................................................................................................................................15

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INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

A Startup should not be confused with a small company that provides means of survival to its promoter
or to a micro income-generating activity for young people wanting a way out of unemployment. This
is an amalgam important to point out since public officials in Cote d’Ivoire have focused the last
decades on supporting what we may call "subsistence entrepreneurs".

Cote d’Ivoire should not let go of the promise of its Startups.

With the dazzling development of the digital sector; many industries and markets are likely to be
"creatively destroyed" by innovative products and services, offering increased value and generating
wealth.

Transforming our Startups into large companies of national and international reach represents THE
challenge. This challenge is, of course, predated by a history.

In the aftermath of the country independence, the awareness of supporting entrepreneurship was
already visible. However, it will take private actors to embrace ownership of the subject of the
entrepreneurial ecosystem in the 2000’s to witness a significant change.

In the last 10 years, we have seen a positive evolution. Today we count no less than 70 organizations
active in stimulating a better environment for startups in Côte d'Ivoire. These are coworking spaces,
incubators, technical assistance providers, service providers and startup associations.

Nonetheless, the reality is we keep hearing that too few entrepreneurs are being equipped with the
right skills and competencies; too few startups are "credible"; too few startups are successful in raising
funds; we have too few angel investors and seed funding mechanisms; too few decisive and effective
interventions by public officials - in fact so little of everything and too much of the little.

What if we strive to improve things? This is the challenge we decided to take up with this white paper:
it represents a list of pragmatic recommendations to boost the environment for startups in Côte
d'Ivoire. Better still, this white paper is an exceptional contribution by the startup ecosystem
participants and entrepreneurs themselves: free from any influence/partisan interest.

This white paper is for everyone. This is a document we hope will be useful to public officials; a set of
recommendations that we hope will inspire any individual and entity alike to take action.
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Finally, a big thank you to all our supporters and to all those who made this initiative possible.

So long live Cote d’Ivoire! Long live to the Cote d’Ivoire Startup Nation!

- Written by the Working Committee of the Cote d’Ivoire Startup Meetup Days

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FACTS AND FIGURES

Number of respondents: 39
Number of recommendations submitted: 393
Median number of recommendations per respondent: 10
Quality of respondents:

Quality of respondents

- Active or potential startuppers: 15 - Investor or funding agency: 1


- Service provider: 7 - Direct support agency for startups: 8
- Large Companies: 2 - Other: 6

A big thank you to the members of the Working Committee


(* who served in their personal capacity)

 Charles Mounet, CREDIT ACCESS


 Didier Boua, ORRICK COTE D’IVOIRE
 Jacques Cangah, DELOITTE
 Moussa Comara, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF COTE D’IVOIRE
 Paule-Aurore Koffi, INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF GRAND-BASSAM
 Seshie Richard Ahedor, ASSOCIATION 3535 (convener)

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RECOMMENDATIONS

1. What are your general recommendations to boost the environment for startups in Cote
d'Ivoire?

 The creation of a showcasing approach to provide high national visibility to Startups of Cote
d'Ivoire, their products and services;
 The creation of economic interest groups among startup ecosystem stakeholders to deepen their
respective missions (e.g. an association body of coworking spaces in Côte d'Ivoire);
 An initiative to strengthen free public Internet in Abidjan and other cities;
 An initiative to digitize municipal services;
 An initiative of a think-tank in Cote d'Ivoire specializing on economic freedom, private initiative
and entrepreneurship.

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2. What are your specific recommendations to boost the skills of startuppers and future
entrepreneurs?

 The development of an international mobility program that subsidizes the mobility of young
entrepreneurs / startuppers in the context of entrepreneurial discovery trips, conferences,
international visits linked to business development. This program could be extended to young
people involved differently and institutionalized through the creation of the International Youth
Offices of Côte d'Ivoire;
 A facilitation mechanism for creating television content dedicated to startups and
entrepreneurship;
 An intensive English course funding mechanism for startuppers and deepening English learning in
the national education curricula;
 An initiative to facilitate the arrival or replication in Côte d'Ivoire of world-class entrepreneurship
programs for startups (bootcamps, incubators, accelerators, coding schools...);
 An initiative to facilitate the arrival of world-renowned international educational institutions
within the perimeter of the Grand-Bassam Biotech and Technology Free Zone – accentuating the
zone as the utmost center of innovation for Côte d'Ivoire;
 The inclusion in existing scholarship programs and / or the development of a special program of
local / foreign entrepreneurship scholarships.

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3. What are your specific recommendations to boost entrepreneurship within/by Universities
and Research Organizations?

 An invitation to Higher Education Institutions to involve seasoned entrepreneurs in their training


courses on entrepreneurship
 The creation of a funding mechanism for the development of prototypes in Universities and
Laboratories;
 The establishment of a regular competition between Higher Education Institutions, the aim of
which is to reward innovative projects;
 Integrating entrepreneurship, financial literacy and computer programming learning into the
national curricula;
 The creation of an incentive mechanism for Higher Education Institutions to set up support
entities related to entrepreneurship;
 A National Program to establish Incubators/ Accelerators at Public Universities and Private
Institutes;
 The establishment of specialized incubation programs or incubators in promising sectors/markets
 An initiative that mobilizes public and private universities; as places to pilot innovative products
and services of startups.

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4. What are your specific recommendations to boost financing for startups?

 The establishment of a guarantee fund for startups;


 The creation of special financial investment products allowing individuals or entities to fund
startups backed with an incentive scheme;
 The introduction of tax incentives for all types of investors keen to be involved in venture capital;
 An initiative for the development of honor loans;
 An initiative for the development of crowdfunding platforms and to boost collaborative
investment in Côte d'Ivoire;
 The establishment of a fund of funds that will finance proposals for the creation of venture
capital companies by competent private managers with the aim of investing in startups;
 The mobilization of non-traditional sources of funding to create a variety of funding mechanisms
for startups. Such non-traditional financing include, but are not limited to, winnings of the
national lottery, dormant accounts or unclaimed life insurance contracts, parafiscal taxation, a
special investment fund whose annual capital gains will serve to finance start-ups
 Hosting a National Start-up Financing Symposium to produce a strategic direction and roadmap
on this issue.

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5. What are your specific recommendations to support startups in Legal, Tax, Accounting,
Commercial, HR, Tech, Logistics...?

 The granting of tax exemption of up to 5 years to Startups;


 The continuous improvement in the simplification of business creation procedures;
 The existence of a legal help desk within the CEPICI (Cote d’Ivoire’s investment promotion
agency) that will inform entrepreneurs about the legal consequences of choosing their legal
structures and to consult on legal issues;
 The creation of an online platform that allows the creation, reporting, administrative
amendment and liquidation of companies in Cote d’Ivoire (e.g. incorporate a company and open
a bank account in 3 hours as is already effective in some countries);
 The location of the “Centre de Gestion Agréés” (these are certified low-cost accounting firms in
Cote d’Ivoire) within coworking spaces, incubators, etc ...;
 The continuous improvement of the technical infrastructure (internet speed, API banking);
 The setting up of a hardware accelerator with dual locations in Abidjan (design, marketing) and
Shenzhen in China (prototyping, mass production) in order to support hardware startups;
 The creation of Cote d'Ivoire's Innovation House in Nigeria as the headquarters for the Startup
community of Cote d’Ivoire targeting the international market especially the Nigerian market - by
far the most promising market in West Africa. Such Innovation Houses could be considered as
well in other locations;
 The creation of the Africa Innovation House in Silicon Valley, a collaboration between Cote
d’Ivoire and other African countries, allowing Cote d'Ivoire to lead by example and exert its
leadership;
 The establishment of an initiative to facilitate export-oriented startups access to the most
appropriate e-commerce cross-border logistics/international sales service providers that offer
value-added services (storage of micro quantities, home delivery of products on foreign markets
etc ...);
 The continuing effort to reduce taxes on the cost of plane tickets;
 The creation of an initiative to match potential founders looking for complementary skills;
 The development of accounting software that integrates with banking platforms;
 The development of a credit mechanism for employment and wage subsidy specifically intended
for startups who may need to be labeled beforehand;
 The creation of a dedicated public web portal that acts as a resource center for SMEs interested
to be listed in the SME sub-market of the public stock exchange (BRVM);

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 The creation of an institutional body that will distinctly carry the voice of startups and develop
specific initiatives. We advocate for example the creation of the Young Chamber of Commerce of
Côte d'Ivoire;
 The establishment of "Mentor Côte d'Ivoire" which will pilot and scale mentoring approaches
and programs adapted to local realities,
 Broadening the tax incentives and benefits offered to startups by including innovation tax credits
and research tax credits.

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6. Coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators; what can they do better?

 The organization of regular pitch opportunities open to investors;


 The creation of "Perks" startup toolboxes (including hosting credits, legal services, productivity
tools, banking deals, media deals etc…) made available to Incubators and Accelerators;
 An initiative to facilitate the sustainable deployment of Fiber Optic Internet / Broadband Internet
within all innovation places (coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators etc ...);
 An initiative to facilitate the deployment of independent power systems within all innovation
places.

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7. What are your specific recommendations to boost collaboration between large companies
and startups?

 The creation of tax and non-tax incentive mechanisms that incite large companies to support
innovative companies;
 The creation of a prize that rewards the best collaborative initiatives between large companies
and startups;
 The launch of an initiative that facilitate collaborations between large companies and startups.
The said initiative could for example initiate Launchpad events where companies submit their
challenges with startups responding with their products and services or vice versa.

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8. What are your specific recommendations to boost government support for startups?

 The granting of a specific legal and fiscal status to Startups active in sectors designated to be an
economic priority by the Ivorian government
 The adoption of a clear policy strategy Reflect in the 5-year National Development Plans aimed at
the development of digital startups/champions in the said chosen priority sectors;
 The implementation of a national version of the "Small Business Act" facilitating an access to public
markets to SMEs and Startups with "mature" products / services;
 The clear designation of a point-of-contact within the State connect startup innovations to the
relevant administrations and public entities;
 The creation of a "Startup Residency" initiative by the Ivorian government which will aim to build
collaborations between governmental, regional and municipal entities on one hand, and startups
from around the world, on the other hand to implement and scale innovative solutions for social
and societal impact;
 The expansion of the existing National Program for the Creation of Incubators to establish
incubators in all regions (e.g. agro-incubators, etc ...) beyond the economic capital city Abidjan;
 The creation of a mega-incubator, which will centralize under one roof all the stakeholders
necessary for the development of young companies (technical, finance, legal and educational
participants);
 The existence within municipalities of dedicated staff to manage the ongoing relationship with
entrepreneurs;
 The creation of an Economic Development and Innovation Agency within the District of Abidjan
and in other cities in Cote d’Ivoire stating such interest;
 The creation of a permanent mechanism of Taskforces by the government which will monitor
emerging technologies and their national appropriation according to their relevance.

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CONTACT US

www.startupcotedivoire.com
hello@buebagafrica.com
00225 79.73.34.65 | 57.11.67.65

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