Offer quality information to companies wishing to develop in Africa, calling on the talents and skills of the continent’s young people. This is the whole ambition of Trustin Africa.
Far behind the French champions, which are exported all over the world, French small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are reluctant to do business outside their borders. Thus, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country has only 80,000 exporting SMEs, against 450,000 in Germany and 200,000 in Italy. “There is a real deficit, while the opportunities are enormous on the African continent”, deplores Thibaud Leclerc, co-founder of the company Trustin Africa.
It was on this basis that with his friend Étienne Morne, whom he had met twelve years earlier, Thibaud embarked on the creation of Trustin Africa in 2014. Their credo: allow all companies, even the most modest, to access the African market by providing them with local talents through one-off missions.
“It’s very difficult remotely to get information and test the potential of a market,” notes Thibaud. The only way to do this is to be there. However, this is not within the reach of all budgets. What better way then than to call on people on the spot? ”
Confidence, the key to the model
Currently present in 19 French-speaking African countries, with offices in Dakar, Abidjan and Douala, Trustin Africa has shown great success three years after its creation. “The key to our model is to give businesses confidence,” explains Thibaud. Moreover, the name of our company testifies to it! ”
To do this, they have built up a pool of speakers, still students or recent graduates, recruited via social networks or through partnerships forged with around a hundred universities on the continent. During a job interview, a manager tests their motivations and systematically checks the veracity of their training. “Then we offer them additional training, particularly in commercial prospecting and community management, in order to be as operational as possible,” explains Thibaud.
“We are not yet another consulting firm”
The community currently has around 5,000 members. “A number voluntarily limited at the start, so that requests from SMEs follow the growth of our community,” explains Thibaud. But we now intend to relaunch recruitments, with the aim of reaching 100,000 members. “An exponential increase intended to meet all the needs of companies,” even the most specific “, and to charge low prices.
Our customers are companies specializing in small industry, construction, new technologies, consumer goods …
“We are not yet another consulting firm, with a low number of clients and expensive billings,” explains Thibaud. Each week, we receive several dozen requests, which we invoice on average 2,500 euros per month. These are companies specializing in small industry, construction (especially specialized materials), new technologies, consumer goods … This diversity requires us to have a large community. ”
Among its members, Herbert Kadjo, an Ivorian student in Master 2 in Marketing and Management, who has already carried out two missions in the service of Trustin. One of them was to do a market study for a French company specializing in optimizing the visibility of advertisers on the Web. “A very rewarding experience for my CV,” says the young man. And then, I was paid 150,000 CFA francs (around 228 euros), not including a premium of 75,000 CFA francs (around 114 euros) and the reimbursement of my transport and communication costs up to 20,000 francs (around 30 euros). ”
Ambitions in East Africa
“For us, the ideal scenario is someone who comes to us at the end of his studies, carries out increasingly sophisticated missions allowing him to improve his skills, and ends up being recruited by one of our customers, explains Thibaud. This has happened several times already. “A philosophy that does not prevent the two cronies at the head of the company from thinking business above all else and posting a target of one million euros in turnover in 2017.
“As much as French companies are very present in the west of the continent, they are conspicuous by their absence in the east,” notes Thibaud, who is particularly eyeing the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Tanzanian markets. Three countries where strong economic growth, which oscillates between 6 and 7%, is synonymous with juicy business for French SMEs and potential orders for Trustin. Sign of their appetite: the company is preparing a fundraiser at the start of the school year, with the aim of raising 600,000 euros.