A native of Cameroon, Aldo Fotso is the co-founder and CEO of Africangels, the leading African network of business angels. This network, explain its founders, brings together investors concerned about the choice of their investment and motivated by an entrepreneurial adventure and easier and wider access to original files.
Aldo Fotso acquired his taste for the company first alongside his mother, Marie Claire Siakam Mba who, with her husband, Etienne Janvier Mba, former Gabonese Minister of Transport, very quickly invested in the agro-industry and distribution. The little Prince of Bandjoun (Aldo Fotso is the grandson of King Kamga, King of Bandjoun in western Cameroon) was also inspired by the success of his uncles: Jean Marie Mbieleu, one of the Cameroonian businessmen most brilliant of his generation or his great-uncle, the very famous Victor Fotso. It was in the 2000s that he decided to put his skills at the service of the continent by participating in the promotion of African businesses internationally. “Whenever I arrived in France, to cross a door my project under the elbow and meet an important decision maker such as the Ministry of Finance, Ubifrance, the Chamber of Commerce, etc., the response to my request for support was the same: “your project looks very interesting. If you target the craft sectors for example, we are ready to support you. ” A position that clearly showed their interest in supporting the African private sector… ”, he explains.
African resources available to African companies
Aldo Fotso holds a master of business administration from the institute of higher economic and commercial studies in Paris and a postgraduate diploma in international relations from the center for international studies in Paris. commercial and strategic functions at different levels of responsibility on behalf of companies of various sizes such as the European press and advertising agency, Motorola, etc. Subsequently, he joined an independent consulting firm as a business development manager. Previously, in 2009, he co-founded Africangels with 3 partners, namely Nicolas Hounto, former boss of Agresso, Geneviève Yossa, managing director of Divas Magazine and Thierry Djeumo, Quantitative Modeling Auditor at BPCE. Main mission: to put African resources at the disposal of African companies in order to accelerate their growth, especially abroad, while emphasizing the socio-economic impact of their project. The Africangels network notably has as its first support the current Cameroonian Prime Minister, Yang Philemon. A few months later, on the advice of Claude Rameau, founder of France Angels, the main federation of French business angels, Aldo Fotso developed its model and then created Africangels BA, the leading network of African business angels. As Executive Director of Africangels, Aldo Fotso, he is multiplying initiatives and launching several programs: Africangels Ventures, a program to support entrepreneurs with high growth potential; Africangels BA, the 1st African Business Angels, dedicated to investment in companies having a socio-economic impact on Africa and the African Entrepreneur Prize, including the next edition, organized in collaboration with the CGPME General Confederation of French Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises will be launched on October 18 within the famous Palais Brongniart in Paris. In addition to these activities, Aldo Fotso founded WAC, one of the first independent mobile service companies, to make a successful start-up in 2010 at I-Dispo. He worked there as a partner, responsible for strategy and marketing. and occupies a seat on the strategic committee of several startUps. But very soon after its creation Africangels was confronted with the challenge of sourcing the best business files, linked to extremely high human risk, the lack of reliable and centralized data, and support structures. “Because of these aspects, we spend an enormous amount of time identifying and monitoring projects with high potential. The practice and the culture mean that we must take the time to get to know our partners and install a climate of trust. Spending an average of 1½ years before being able to commit to a file is unfortunately a time that is necessary but much too long, “explains the executive director of Africangels.
Financing, the Achilles heel of entrepreneurs in Africa
For the latter, funding remains the Achilles heel of African entrepreneurs. “It is not normal, in 2016, that we observe investments with interest rates between 12 and 15%! “Laments Aldo Fotso. For the latter, governments must help improve the sustainability of businesses, outside of the big talk. “How do you want to ensure the competitiveness of companies? And how will our companies, without competitiveness, be able to maintain their market shares in their own countries, with economic partnership agreements !? “He wonders. In addition, the executive director of Africangels also points to the poor state of infrastructure in Africa, particularly that dedicated to entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is the 1st sector generating wealth and employment. Entrepreneurs are seen by all intelligent decision makers as a gold mine. Large companies, out of inspiration and innovation, are now turning to them in order to build new, more flexible models, and develop more innovative services and products. In this approach, they are also turning to Africa to find future “nuggets”. They have waged a war in Africa, a benign war, because their engagement brings solutions for Africa. But the consequences of which will actually depend first and foremost on our willingness to support our entrepreneurs and help them overcome the many barriers they face. We had made a historic mistake by letting our brains go. Today, we shouldn’t commit to letting our startups go by, ”said Aldo Fotso.
Developing economic patriotism
For him, it is imperative to organize entrepreneurship conferences and “put everything flat”. “This represents a major project, but a project that meets the challenges they represent: the supply of support; The fiscal framework, which must be redesigned to encourage the emergence of a new entrepreneurial dynamic; We absolutely need to put in place a framework to stimulate investment. But this can only be effective if we promote the spread of the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, the impact of which goes beyond the entrepreneurial ecosystem alone. ” For Aldo Fotso, African leaders must develop economic patriotism and have the courage to liberalize even strategic sectors and open them to nationals, inspired by the courageous decisions that may have been taken in Nigeria a few years ago.
“We could push the existing private sector to invest in sectors of the future by taking a small participation in their profit in order to inject it into a fund dedicated to the development of companies with high potential for the future; Safeguarding endangered sectors (the culture and complete disappearance of cinemas is an example,…) from which economic operators are disengaging, by using these funds; Require third states to facilitate public procurement if they want their own companies to bid on state contracts in African countries. We say that favoring foreign companies on the sole grounds that they are foreign within the framework of the procurement on which we nevertheless have successful local businesses is unacceptable. Finally, we must develop effective export support mechanisms in order to offer our businesses a new horizon and new growth opportunities, “he concluded.
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