In coherence with its primary mission to boost economic growth in Cameroon, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center (SBEC) of Nkafu Policy Institute (a think tank at Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation) summoned a roundtable debate during the 2nd half of business hours on Thursday 22nd November 2018, at the Foundation’s headquarters, situated few metres from ‘Collège Jesus-Marie’, Simbock, Yaoundé.
Cross section of participants at the roundtable discussion.
The event, the focus of which was growing and sustaining small businesses, also fell within the broader mission of Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, which is that of ‘catalyzing Africa’s economic transformation, by focusing on social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health, and the implementation of progressive policies that together create economic opportunities for all.’
During the interactions that characterized the day, panelists engaged participants to freely exchange views, perceptions, and experiences on how they’ve been faring with their respective businesses in Cameroon. Areas such as: factors hindering business growth and sustenance, resources needed for successfully growing and sustaining a business, ways of attaining business growth, strategies of business expansion (amongst others) were handled. Information was also disclosed on how to subscribe to and benefit from the SBEC Network of Small Businesses — a growing web of small business owners in Cameroon which serves as channel through which SBEC provides the tools needed to establish, expand, and sustain private sector businesses.
The gathering which mostly had small business owners in the informal sector, also featured local media outfits, and representatives from several government organs like: National Employment Fund (NEF), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education (MINJEC), Ministry Employment and Vocational Training (MINEFOP), Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (MINPMEESA), Ministry of Commerce (MINCOMMERCE).
Fruitful exchange between one of the particpiants (Mrs. Ngon Juan) & panelists.
Mr. Ulrich D’pola Kamdem (Economic Policy Analyst at Nkafu Policy Institute) who moderated the day said statistics from ECAM revealed that ‘more than 70% of SMEs created in Cameroon closed before 2 years of existence.’ He further stated that ‘most Cameroonian SMEs fail because of high taxation level, bad governance and lack of funding among others.’ This, in his opinion, ‘was a huge concern, since SMEs represented an important source of wealth and job creation.’ Thus, ‘the SBEC Roundtable [dialogue] was…[an] occasion to address those issues in order to equip SME owners, workers, policy makers, and project holders with skills and knowledge that [would] permit them scale their businesses. The interactive discussions between participants and panelists permitted them to select key takeaways…to have what they expected,’ he emphasized.
A participant, Nkemcha Martin McTiku of ROBOGA, was satisfied with the outcome of the event. ‘I met with two great persons who decided to mentor me on how to get a bankable business plan’, he stated. ‘I need this business in order to finance my non-profit civic leadership activities’, he disclosed. ‘[I’m] hoping to become member of the SBEC Network for mentorship too’, he concluded.
The ceremony had as panelists, Messrs. Yombo Sembe Eugene Arnaud (Governance and Democracy Analyst, Nkafu Policy Institute), Hugue Nkoutchou, Ph.D (Director of Nkafu Policy Institute), and Schouame Cyrille (from MINPMEESA).
One of the officials from MINPMEESA, Mr. Essono Ateba Jean Marc expressed government’s satisfaction about the initiative, and assured the organizers of their incessant support in future.
Photo credits: Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation.