Launched in 2011, the Center for Information and Communication Technologies (CTIC), which oversees the development of Senegalese micro-enterprises active in new technologies, estimates that it has helped 75 foals generate 3.5 billion CFA francs ( 5 million euros) in revenue. The Center is now playing the diversification card before expanding to meet demand.
The atmosphere is good and busy, this morning at the end of May, at the Information and Communication Technologies Center (CTIC) perched in the heart of the Plateau, the noisy business district of Dakar, the Senegalese capital. A dozen people are staring at their computer screens.
Created in 2011, the structure is dedicated to the support and coaching of young entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the digital economy sector, who are very often faced with a real management deficit and support.
A handful of actors, including Omar Cissé, today co-founder of the investment fund Téranga Capital, came up with the idea of setting up the CTIC, which after its start in 2010 claimed the pioneer status in West Africa. An initiative that has not gone unheeded and has received public and private support (government, Orange, Organization of professionals in information and communication technologies …).
Omar Cissé, with whom the creation of CTIC is associated, benefited from InfoDev, the network of business incubators of the World Bank with the objective of setting up an economic model which can be financially balanced after five years. It is not known if the bet was met, since the incubator does not communicate on its financial performance, but Omar Cisse, who ranks himself in the category of “serial entrepreneurs”, preferred to hand over in 2014.
75 young digital companies supervised
This does not mean that the CTIC does not last. On the contrary, the incubator reports honorable results. He has so far supported more than 75 young digital companies and coached 1,750 project leaders. The CTIC also contributed to creating 200 jobs in the hosted companies. These have a combined turnover of three billion CFA francs, and have managed to raise 135 million CFA francs.
Currently, a dozen companies in e-commerce, digital communication, value-added services via SMS, are currently in the incubation phase, for periods of up to three years. By Filling, a digital conversation agency, is one of them. Specialized in digital marketing and inbound management (order management), it is co-founded and directed by the Nigerian Mohamed Amadou Diallo, a graduate of the Dakar Higher Institute of Management (ISM).
Accompanied by CTIC since 2013, By Filling is a good example of the growth experienced by many of the incubated companies. “We started two, today there are about fifteen of us,” explains Mohamed Amadou Diallo. We went from a turnover of 5 million to 100 million CFA francs. ”
By Filling’s clients include Cofina Bank, Pamecas microcredit institution, Societe Generale de Banques au Senegal (SGBS), digital management solutions provider Gaindé 2000. Which the start-up is in a good position to face the market a few months before its release.
Formerly of the Agency for the promotion of major public works (APIX), Chérif Ndiaye is the boss and founder of Sign Up. This still emerging Senegalese MOOC offers free math, philosophy and French lessons for students from college to high school. He too will try to stand on his own two feet this year, after having benefited from the legal, administrative and accounting supervision of the nine permanent employees of the CTIC, as well as free premises. Rental charges (water, electricity and rent) are provided by the State Information Agency (ADIE).
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Expand to meet demand and achieve financial equilibrium
The incubator is now faced with the small size of its premises. However, the government has, since last year, made available another building of about 700 square meters. But it will first have to be renovated and equipped. “The realization of this project will allow us to receive more incubated and accelerated companies (over shorter periods of six months and for less mature projects)”, explains Carine Vavasseur, responsible for communication and events at CTIC . An investment which amounts to 200 million CFA francs.
“It is still difficult for us to raise these funds,” she admits. Ultimately, this expansion project should allow the incubator to reach financial equilibrium.
A non-profit organization, the Dakar CTIC economic model is based on sharing the growth in turnover generated by the companies supported.
“We don’t touch the starting turnover,” explains Carine Vavasseur. For example, a company which came in with 10 million CFA francs and which after 30 years makes 30 million CFA francs; royalties will be deducted from the 20 million generated together “: 9% for those incubated within the walls of the CTIC, against 7% for projects that benefit from remote supervision, the” virtual incubators “.
But to secure its back, the incubator is now developing other activities such as business development services (BDS), from which two thirds of its income now comes.
The CTIC in Dakar, for example, supported the setting up of an incubator in Niger and carried out feasibility studies in Gabon, Togo and Mauritania.
Similarly, it finds a second wind in the event by organizing Hackathon, entrepreneurship competitions, or more recently by partnering with Wazi Up, a three-year program supported by the European Union (EU), launched last February, which aims to popularize the use of the Internet of Things and digital data to bring out concrete solutions to the problems of the rural world in Africa.
“For example, we would like to set up mini-chip systems on livestock to have traceability and an alert system that alerts the farmer via his phone to the various movements of his animals,” Carine Vavasseur added.
It is also a way of standing out since CTIC is not alone in the world. Enablis, Cofina Startup House and others like the French holding company Scintillo are positioned in the segment in Senegal. Handsome player, Omar Cissé assures him: “A recent figure shows that CTIC Dakar only covers 10% of the support needs of Senegalese entrepreneurs”.