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UNCTAD helps empower youth in Benin

Entrepreneurs Richard Odjrado (left) and Caludia Togbe (right). (Image source: UNCTAD)

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Benin has tripled the number of companies opened by youth in 2022

Young people in the country are reportedly more encouraged to chase their entrepreneurial dreams amid a digitalisation boom powered by e-government tools delivered by UNCTAD. 

Between 2019 and 2022 the number of young people opening new businesses in Benin skyrocketed, more than tripling from 7,416 registrations to 23,312.

“That’s growth of 212%,” commented Laurent Gangbes, chief executive of the Agency for the Promotion of Investments and Exports (APIEx) in Benin, which is behind an initiative to digitise government services and make it easier to do business in the West African nation.

The boom is being powered by low-code software developed by UNCTAD, and “demonstrates a national demand for digital services that support entrepreneurial ambitions,” Gangbes added.

UNCTAD developed the platform in 2020, using its ground-breaking software custom-built to help businesses launch efficiently online.

Benin is committed to establishing a digital business environment that delivers innovative services to the private sector and enables businesses to thrive. “Their story is one of an enabling environment realised,” remarked Frank Grozel, UNCTAD’s head of business facilitation.

Richard Odjrado is one such young entrepreneur who created an anti-theft tracker for smartphones that alerts the owner if the phone is moved without their permission, enabling them to locate it if it’s lost or stolen. The tracker is also operated from a smart watch he’s designed.

He spent nearly two years researching and developing his anti-theft solution before launching his company AS World Tech, which also makes glasses and laptops. Odjrado’s company is now thriving because of the digital-first approach taken by Benin’s Government. The platform saved him a lot of time and hassle, he said.

He registered AS World Tech in a few minutes in June 2021. Less than two years later, it exports to 56 countries including France and China. The company is about to build a new factory of 16,000 sq m in Benin that will employ 218 people.

More women, such as entrepreneur Caludia Togbe, are also using the MonEnterprise platform to open companies.

“I didn’t believe the online business registration system would work as promised but it did. It’s every entrepreneur’s dream to be able to create a company from home. In other countries in the sub-region it takes three weeks to do the same thing,” Togbe commented.

Togbe launched Origine Terre, a natural product cosmetics company, in just three to four clicks. It has now become a popular phenomenon in Benin with products sold in stores throughout France and online. 

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