On the website of the daily newspaper L’Express de Madagascar, between articles that talk about politics and news, Ratsimandresy Malala’s little bio stands out. In the space of a few days, her story, that of a 19-year-old teenager who created her start-up, spread like wildfire on social networks.
With the help of an NGO called Youth First, Malala was able to start a small paper bag business. It must be said that she knew how to choose the right timing, because since 2015, Madagascar partially prohibits the use and production of plastic bags. An opportunity was therefore to be seized. And to date, his small business already produces nearly 600 ecological bags per day.
Startupers vs. Officials
In a country classified as one of the poorest in the world, one of the most unstable and one of the most corrupt, news like this obviously pleases Internet users. But above all, it is perhaps the reflection of a small part of generation Y and Digital Natives in Madagascar who no longer aspires to a permanent contract or a civil servant position, but rather to become his own boss.
In the Malagasy middle class, parents generally encourage their children to study, earn their diplomas, and then try to find a good job. However, reality often catches up with them. In the private sector, his entry salary does not generally allow a young graduate of the Master level (Bacc + 5) to gain financial independence.
Some are trying to get into the administration, but this is said to be difficult (partly due to corruption) and wages are no longer as attractive as they once were. Yet just 10 years ago, many would have paid dearly to enter the public service.
Thus, a generation of startupers is starting to emerge on the Big Island. They are young, sometimes they have stopped their studies and they are full of ambitions.
And if the Malala company is becoming the icon of this generation, it is mainly in digital that it evolves. We could cite E-Fanorona, a mobile adaptation of a Malagasy strategy game or Le Daily, a news blog that is becoming a reference in political matters, launched in 2014 by young Madagascans.
In addition to all these new ideas that are causing distraction in Madagascar, there are the many SMEs that hunt game in Europe. In a few years, Madagascar has indeed become one of the destinations of choice for the outsourcing of offshore services.
What are we waiting for to support these young people?
The problem, for the moment, is that the leaders have not yet created a real environment favorable to the creation and success of start-ups. A few days ago, RFI interviewed Andry Randriamanamiaja, founder of an online payment company. According to the latter, “it is a model very little known to the government.” As for the CEO of the Habaka incubator, he is optimistic. For him, all the problems in Madagascar can be transformed into opportunities for those who find solutions, because “everything is still to be done”. However, the entrepreneurial culture has not yet been sufficiently emphasized.