Supported by NTF V, Senegalese Tech shines at VivaTech
Held from 14 to 17 June, the seventh edition of VivaTech attracted over 150,000 visitors and renowned speakers such as Elon Musk. VivaTech can now claim to be the world's leading tech exhibition. This exceptional showcase gave start-ups working with the NTF V project a chance to demonstrate the vitality of Senegalese tech. Two of them, LENGO and OUTALMA, particularly stood out, proof that Senegalese digital entrepreneurship is gaining in attractiveness.
Senegalese innovation is increasingly attracting the attention of foreign partners and investors, because it offers digital technology with a human face, aimed at improving people's lives. The NTF V Project partnered with the Délégation Générale à l'Entrepreneuriat Rapide des Femmes et des Jeunes (DER/FJ) – the agency tasked with supporting women and youth entrepreneurs – and the French Embassy in Dakat to bring 18 Senegalese start-ups to demonstrate their talents at VivaTech.
A growth spurt for LENGO
Dakar-based start-up LENGO uses artificial intelligence to help small Senegalese retailers optimize their business management and increase their revenues. At the same time, data collected in stores is fed back to the agri-food industries, enabling them to better understand their markets and improve their supply strategy. For Roger-Xavier Macia, co-founder and sales director of the company, artificial intelligence creates an unprecedented opportunity for democratization.
‘The retailers will probably never be able to afford accounting training. But thanks to our tool, they can send and receive voice notes that help them better manage their stock, take inventory and place orders. Artificial intelligence gives them access to knowledge that was previously inaccessible to them!’ he said.
Having conquered the Senegalese market, LENGO is now preparing to expand into West Africa. A recent fundraising round should enable it to achieve its objective and expand its teams.
‘Our participation in VivaTech accelerated discussions and strengthened our ties with the investment community. The meetings we had at the show really accelerated the process. As early as September, we were able to close a fundraising round with Super Capital,’ a venture capital fund, Xavier-Macia said.
OUTALMA lifts the barriers to African e-commerce
Insufficient network coverage, very low use of banks, lack of suitable electronic payment solutions, vague postal addresses... there are many obstacles to e-commerce in Africa. But thanks to mobile-banking and a well-honed logistics organization, OUTALMA is positioned as an intermediary between Africa and Europe.
‘Via our application, African consumers send us their order and payment details. Then, we purchase the goods from our warehouse in France, and ship them by air and sea freight. The last mile is covered by our own fleet of vehicles,’ explained Alioune Mbengue, managing director of the Dakar-based start-up.
Presented at the VivaTech trade show, the solution was very well received.
‘Our application generated a lot of questions, recommendations and reactions. These are very valuable ways for improvement, which we're going to put to good use before the tool's official launch in a few weeks' time,’ said Alioune.
Another positive outcome of the show was that OUTALMA was approached by FedEx Senegal, with whom a long-term partnership is in the offing. ‘By pooling our air freight, we are able to obtain better rates from the airlines. This agreement could help us increase our sales by €30,000 a year, which is significant! Still at the embryonic stage, other opportunities for collaboration between our two companies are conceivable.’
Operational throughout Senegal, the OUTALMA start-up has recently extended its range of services to Benin, Gabon and Togo. It is now planning to enter the Ivorian market.
About the project
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.