As in most African countries, employment – especially for young people – is a major issue in Côte d’Ivoire. With 77.3% of the population aged 35 or under and an economy largely driven by the primary sector, finding a job can be a tall order for young people. More and more Ivorians are turning to entrepreneurship as a solution.
As a result, Proparco, a subsidiary of AFD Group, which focuses on the private sector, is supporting Comoé Capital, a seed fund specifically for innovative start-ups and SMEs. The aim of this support is to establish a strong community of entrepreneurs and professionals in the Cultural and Creative Industries, as well as to facilitate access to financing and development opportunities for entrepreneurs.
This seed funding not only provides entrepreneurs and SMEs with support in launching their products, but also allows them to take risks. If their efforts are successful, they are then allocated more funding. Of the 17 companies supported by Comoé Capital, four are involved in CCIs, demonstrating the vitality of the sector and its capacity to drive innovation and create jobs in Côte d’Ivoire.
A fund for innovation
Founded in 2005 by fashion designer Ciss St Moïse, clothing company Tropic 105 has since become a key player in the sector, illustrating this changing dynamic. His meeting with Comoé Capital was also a game-changer. “After meeting with the company about two years ago, we received financial assistance, technical support and training. Through this collaboration and support, we were able to recruit a number of young people, especially young girls, who make up 80% of our workforce. This support definitely helped to establish our brand for the long term,” says Ciss St Moïse.
Tropic 105 is now planning to set up a new production unit to ramp up its output. The aim is to supply more stock to clothing stores and thus meet the recent surge in demand from its customers.
Ideas, Training and Networks
Committed to innovation, Comoé Capital is also supporting Studio KÄ, a company specializing in the production of 2D and 3D animations for television and advertising. “With Comoé Capital, we launched the company in March 2019,” says Hadja Soro, Director of Studio KÄ. “We received business management training, particularly on marketing strategy. Gaining access to the Comoé Capital network has also helped with our search for partnerships and prospective customers. We hope to expand the business even further and, after a difficult year due to the Covid-19 crisis, we have now set new goals!”
For Fidèle Aké-Diomandé, managing director and founder of Vallesse, the meeting with Comoé Capital was also a turning point: “In 2017, we launched a literary competition called “Les Manuscrits d’Or”, which had to be put on hold due to a lack of resources and support. It was given a new lease of life two years ago with the help of Comoé Capital. On May 19, 2021, with support from AFD Group and the fund, we launched the web and mobile app e-vallesse to provide better access to knowledge for ninth grade and senior high school students.”
“Women are even more driven to become entrepreneurs.”
Comoé Capital can provide financial support of up to 300 million CFA francs (€457,000) per company. The fund also provides for monitoring, training and coaching to help make these companies more competitive on both a national and international scale. The selection criteria for supporting a company are diverse, ranging from the force of the entrepreneur’s personality to whether the sector of activity meets benefactors’ requirements.
Comoé Capital’s portfolio is comprised of about twenty companies operating in a variety of sectors, such as the creative and cultural industries, agribusiness and innovation. These companies are mainly run by women. “In Côte d’Ivoire, there are many motivated entrepreneurs, but women seem even more determined to start their own businesses,” says Adama Fofana, Investment Manager for Comoé Capital. “They show a lot of initiative and we support their efforts”.