Burkina Faso

2iE is a business incubator firstly dedicated to its students and fresh graduates. It means that instead of getting a job after graduation*, a few of them will take the risk to create their own activity. However, as everyone known, creating a business may take a few months or years. And even then, it’s not evident that the entrepreneur will get a salary in the short term. Moreover, 2iE’s incubator is focused on innovation and green growth, so the projects mentored may need a few years to be created, considering the challenges involved in such projects.

That’s why, for a young graduate, it’s a big dilemma to invest on entrepreneurship. Most of the time, he or she will have no choice than to give up because of family pressure** or existing debts.

Taking into account this context, 2iE shaped the incubation process as follow:

  • The business incubation is 100% financed by 2iE and its partners. It means that the incubatee do not have to spend any financial means to access to trainings, mentoring, equipment, raw materials, laboratories, etc. Any business trip is financed as well.
  • Sometimes, we provided a monthly allocation. This allowed them to be fully involved in the business creation and decrease any pressure coming from relatives. The financial support stops once the startup is created and the business is making money
  • A network of business angels has been created early 2013 to join potential investors around 2iE’s incubation process. These Business Angels declare to be willing to invest in 2iE’s graduates’ business projects once they will be mature enough to receive seed funds. This initiative allows low-income entrepreneurs to gather funds despite low initial investment capabilities.
  • Recently, we opened the business incubator to project holders already hired by an enterprise. These entrepreneurs share their time between their job and the startup creation, so this may take longer time to create the business. But this strategy decreases the economic pressure and the risk taken.

Anyway, if we believe in someone’s potential, the most important is to be flexible enough to answer the entrepreneur’s needs and find a solution to their particular situation. That’s how we create strong social impact.

*95% of 2iE graduates are hired within 6 months

** 2/3 of our students come from the African middle class, including at least 20% of low income families

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  • This article underscores the commitment needed to support a young entrepreneur. On one of our site visits, I met with a research scientist who has worked with one of the entrepreneurs at 2ie and she explained how much time and energy she puts into helping and supporting one young entrepreneur who really needs help with the science of his project. This collaboration on the science is essential to make his product work. If he didn't have this researcher's assistance, he would need to obtain it elsewhere. And it is not quick. It will take several years, maybe longer. I think this is a reality that will be true for at least some of the business ideas that are proposed by the new entrepreneur. 2ie has figured this out and is delivering this type of assistance when it is needed.

    Carol Carrier
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