Interviews

Interview of Fortuné AHOULOUMA (LABS-NS AVOCATS), Jury member of the competition « Startup of the year Africa 2017 »

Written by Anna BOCHKAREVA

The first edition of the competition « Startup of the year Africa 2017 » organised by Bonjour Idée and OCP ended on 27th january 2017. We asked members of the jury of this first African edition about the reasons of their engagement towards African startups.

Here are the answers of one of the Jury members, Fortuné AHOULOUMA, co-founder of LABS-NS AVOCATS

  • Why did you choose to support african startups via the competition Startup of the year Africa 2017 ?

This choice is a natural reflection of the engagement of LABS-NS AVOCATS to African startups that take part in profound transformation of the African continent towards inclusive development. This engagement is the reflection of the vision and the values of the founders of our law office : Fabien LAWSON and myself.

We wish to be the relay for hope. The best translation of this vision goes by the support we bring not only to different members of African entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also to African diaspora. Thus, supporting initiatives like “ Startup of the Year Africa 2017 ”, imagined and successfully implemented by Bonjour Idée, is part of the engagements we share.

  • Do you think that participation of a startup in this contest can influence its development ? If yes, why ?

First of all, I would like to specify that out experience in legal support of african startups allowed us to notice the numerous obstacles they have, related in particular to the lack of support in different fields (project management, creating a business model and a business plan, marketing, jurisprudence…), lack of access to funds, of visibility, lack of information…

Participation of a sturtup to this competition is thus undoubtedly an opportunity to overcome these obstacles which can later influence its development for different reasons.

Participation in this competition is a light spot, a possibility to improve its visibility, which is offered to a startup, whether it wins or not. It is also an opportunity to improve its business plan and business model and make them meet international standards. Moreover, this competition is an occasion to identify or meet people who can become partners or give precious advice for development. The competition is also a great opportunity to get necessary funding for the development of startups or to attract the attention of the investors.

  • Apart from the competition « Startup of the Year Africa 2017 », does your enterprise have any other forms of support to startups ?

LABS-NS AVOCATS is a law office specialised in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), social economy and innovation. We focus on the research of impacts (social and environmental) to improve life conditions of populations. So we naturally support African startups, most of which are searching for impacts via their value propositions.

This engagement also has the form of our CSR incubator. It is a Pro bono initiative that consists in giving some limited time to authors of projects or startups at the beginning stage whose activities have social and environmental impact. Moreover, LABS-NS AVOCATS is partner in other events devoted to african and diaspora events like Land of African Business (LAB) that organizes African Rethink Awards (ARA) or Startup Weekends organised by Initiative for Africa (IFA).

LABS-NS AVOCATS also undertakes lobbying actions in favor of entrepreneurship in Africa via articles in european and African media where we make specific proposals in the field of jurisprudence.

  • After 2 French editions, Startup of the year is exported to Africa. What did you expect from this edition ? Were your expectations confirmed ?

Our expectations concerning this first African edition consisted in seeing the entrepreneurial and innovation potential of African startups being put forward. We also expected this event to create collaboration perspectives, exchange and synergies between Africa and the diaspora.

The competition “ Startup of the year Africa 2017 ” developed by Bonjour Idée clearly met our expectation. The quality and the success of this edition prove the capacity of the actors of the continent and of the diaspora to propose solutions to make the African continent a motor in terms of entrepreneurship and technological innovation.

  • If you could give some advice to those who create a startup, what would it be ?

Create and develop a startup is surely a risky path, but it can is also a way of personal growth. To do so, startupers should aspire to generosity and empathy. It is the key to success today. Moreover, it is important for them to use external skills, especially in the field of law, to help them avoid risks.

  • What question did we forget to ask ? – What impact can the competition « Startup of the year Africa 2017 » can have on the development of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa?

In addition to the contribution to changing life conditions realized by the startups via technological innovations in Africa, it is important for LABS-NS AVOCATS that this competition could have a long-lasting impact on the development of the entrepreneurship and technological innovations in Africa.

To contribute to this, LABS-NS AVOCATS develops educational and lobbying activities in order to protect and promote the know-how of young startups in the field of technological innovation in Africa. In particular, we try to encourage States, investors and civil society to participate in the rise of the springs of technological innovation in Africa.

 

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Anna BOCHKAREVA

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