Learning Expedition in Dakar: Start-ups lean into the Senegalese market
When you're planning to expand internationally, it's best to know the legal, logistical, tax and cultural constraints of the market you're targeting. From 22 to 26 May, start-ups from Mali, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire headed to Dakar to explore the Senegalese entrepreneurial environment and meet potential partners. Three companies benefiting from the NTF V programme took part in the expedition: Passion Digitale, Yamp and Digitall Farmer. Here's a look at the experience of two of them.
Yamp: ‘Thanks to the Learning Expedition, we've found solid support’
Just a few months into its existence, Yamp is already showing excellent growth prospects. The Ivorian start-up has designed a web application that enables retailers to keep track of their customers, reward them for their loyalty, and encourage them to become ambassadors.
Where most tools focus on acquiring new customers, Yamp concentrates on retaining existing ones.
‘In just a few months, our solution has exceeded 120 subscriptions, with a quarterly re-subscription rate close to 92%. Our priority is to consolidate our presence in the local market, then duplicate our model in Senegal to reach 500 subscriptions by 2024,’ said Hamed Gramboute, Yamp's CEO.
The Ivorian entrepreneur believes Senegal is the engine of the digital economy in West Africa.
’The business environment is very dynamic and is attracting more and more investors. Thanks to the Learning Expedition, we've found solid support. When we're ready to open up our capital, we'll be able to turn to the right people,’ he said
The young start-up also saw the Learning Expedition as a great opportunity to open up.
‘After months of devoting all our energy to developing our algorithm, our stay in Senegal enabled us to return to the start-up ecosystem and challenge our solution,’ he said. ‘Through our many meetings and exchanges, we realized that we needed to rework our core target. Since this strategic repositioning, subscriptions have picked up again in the last few weeks.’
Digitall Farmer: ‘We are continuing discussions with three potential partners’
Specializing in the development of digital solutions for agriculture, Benin-based start-up Digitall Farmer aims to open a Senegalese subsidiary as early as 2024.
‘Thanks to the support of the NTF V program, this is the second time we've been to Senegal, helping to expand our network and considerably accelerate our prospects of setting up,’ said CEO Novalie Houngbedji.
With the Learning Expedition, the Digitall Farmer team met local incubators and support programmes, as well as international start-ups who shared their success stories.
’We also had the chance to pitch in front of an audience of investors. Since then, we've been in talks with three potential partners, which bodes well for the fundraising we're preparing for the end of the year.’
The funding is earmarked for the development of a global solution capable of supporting farmers from production through to the marketing of their products.
’Called 360 Tech Agri, the tool will be able to remotely control irrigation requirements, deliver advice to boost productivity, manage production traceability and ensure distribution via the Aliments Benin online platform. It is due to be launched in Benin in a few months' time. Then we'll turn our attention to Senegal, where we've identified support structures and established connections,’ she said.
Senegal also has the advantage of being a springboard to other West African countries, she said.
‘We're already looking at Niger and Côte d’Ivoire, which are also key stages in our development plan.’
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) programme (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Trade Centre. NTF V supports SMEs in the digital technology and agribusiness sectors in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Uganda. Its ambition is to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of agri-food systems partly through digital solutions, to improve the international competitiveness of local tech start-ups and to support the implementation of the export strategy of IT&BPO companies.