Benin invests in 11 startups under Oumandéra funding scheme

BENIN – The government of Benin has invested in eleven startups under the Oumandéra funding scheme, after several phases of selection.

The funding will enable them to boost their businesses. The eleven startups are part of the first class of 2020–2021 under the Digital Entrepreneurship Support Fund (FAEN).

The eleven Beninese startups received checks worth 10 million to over 29 million CFA francs (US$ 18,430 – 53,460), depending on the relevance of their development needs.

“Housed under the Digital Entrepreneurship Support Fund (FAEN), Oumandéra is a grant worth between 5 and 50 million CFA francs (US$ 9,220 – 92,170)  per Beneficiary that the Beninese State has decided to grant to startups in order to help them start a new phase of the development of their activities,” said FAEN Coordinator Jessica Gaba.

“Winners are selected following a selection process in three phases: a pre-selection, a written evaluation and pitches in front of a panel. Oumandéra means in Batonou language “he helped me”. And here “he” is put for the Beninese government which has a political will to help startups. Oumandéra began in October 2020 with a selection process.”

“Beyond the financial contribution, this grant is like a decoration to allow us to move on the right path.”

Amos Avocè – CEO, Benin Fintech Group (BFT)

A call for applications was launched in October 2020, which resulted in 114 applications being registered. For 3 months, the startups went through the stages of preselection, written evaluation of applications and pitches before an evaluation committee. Only eleven of them were subsequently able to pass the filters.

They include: Go Medical, Benin Fintech Group (Bft), Fedapay, Gounou, Ylomi, Tic gro Business, Ola Medical Services, Africa Puzzle, Jinukun, Medom Benin and Tech It All Engeneering.

“The FAEN is a project designed since 2018 following the advocacy of the Minister of Digital and Digitization. It specifically wants to address the issues of companies operating in the digital sector. Indeed, these companies do not often have the opportunity to obtain loans from banks or financial support,” said Gaba.

However, the selected startups would have to participate in a 6-month acceleration phase before they can get hold of the funds.

Apart from funding, FAEN is also interested in training by providing businesses with qualified human resources. The fund also focuses on visibility to allow startups to travel, take immersion courses, and connect with other incubation and acceleration ecosystems.

“Beyond the financial contribution, this grant is like a decoration to allow us to move on the right path. For the most part, we are developing in the sub-region, and supporting us means making us ambassadors of Benin internationally,” Amos Avocè, CEO of Benin Fintech Group (BFT) said on behalf of the beneficiaries.

For her part, the Minister of Digital and Digitization, Aurelie Adam Soulé Zoumarou, also congratulated the winners:

“This award is one among many. The credit goes to you. We are celebrating your persistence and your ability to fight every day to prove that you are people we can invest in. The state wants to help you, and through this funding, help your businesses that are already at a stage, to go even further, to outsource and to conquer other markets.”

Although not among Africa’s Big Four in terms of startup investments, Benin Republic has joined a few countries in Africa where governments support local startup ecosystems.

Others are Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt which have recently implemented policies as well as instituted national funds to support startups. South Africa used to be among the list but has since scrapped Section 12J provisions which gave startups far-reaching tax incentives and funds accessibility.

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