Saboutech: Meeting with Fatoumata Guirassy, director of Saboutech
Her name is Fatoumata Guirassy, a young Guinean woman with a master’s degree in international economics and globalization from the Paris Sorbonne University and an MBA in Operational Management and Sustainable Performance from the Institut Supérieur de Commerce in Paris. She is the director of Saboutech. Saboutech is an incubator that operates in the field of information technology and communication of the environment and renewable energies, it helps startups and SMEs in Guinean seeking support.
Introduce yourself and your journey (briefly)
I hold a master’s degree in international economics and globalization from the University Paris1 -Panthéon Sorbonne, graduated from an MBA operational management and sustainable performance of the Institut Supérieur de Commerce in Paris and graduated from the Altran Institute.
I started my professional career as a researcher at the Solidarity Patronage Institute (IMS) in 2009, then at Sanofis Aventis in 2010 and IS consultant for Altran Technologies.
IS consultant in 2012 where I worked on the deployment of international logistics software in 45 African countries, in 2014 I joined the project management and organization of a large bank.
I am, since November 2015, director of Saboutech incubator of SMEs and startups in Guinea. Saboutech operates in the field of information technology and communication of the environment and renewable energies.
Can you go back to the reasons for creating the incubator?
Saboutech was officially launched 2 years ago at the instigation of the private sector (multinationals and Guinean companies) which, in response to the lack of support and support structure for start-ups and innovative SMEs, have been thinking about setting up an incubator whose missions are:
→ Identify, support and support young companies in the crucial phases of their development (reduction of risks of failure during critical stages, reduction of start-up overhead costs, etc.) in order to build viable and sustainable businesses,
→ Being a place of various events around entrepreneurship, innovation
→ Be the focal point of Conakry for all things ICT, renewable energy or the environment. A place of reference, a catalyst of opportunities and synergies on all these themes.
What structures have supported your incubator since its inception?
We have been supported since the creation by partners mainly from the private sector and who are our founding members and our Board of Directors, the accompaniment is in several forms: financial and or in intellectual nature.
We also benefit from more institutional support and from donors such as the International Organization of La Francophonie or the French Embassy in Guinea, to name but a few, which we use as a linchpin in the implementation of their policies or programs.
Is access to financing a problem to incubate and support startups?
Access to financing for start-ups is a real problem for all countries.
The difficulty of financing their economic activity through official banking channels is real and limited (only 6% of SMEs surveyed in Guinea), and the bankability requirements are not met by most small entrepreneurs, the investment community -Equity finance- non-existent, a non-existent financing offer for the missing-middle.
95% of SMEs are financed by equity, and the contribution of these traditional methods of financing are often reduced, if they allow to start small activities, they are not enough to realize the financial assembly of a productive company and even less of its expansion.
As an incubator, we do not intend to finance start-ups for the moment, but we are the tools, we prepare and help the companies that are involved in the fundraising to facilitate the access to the funds. boot. At this stage we have managed to raise more than 1 billion GNF for the project leaders that we accompany.
We are also working on the establishment of mechanisms to promote access to financing, for example we are part of a consortium of incubators, the Afric Innov Program, which provides funds that will allow our incubated companies to benefit from loans. Honors without guarantee, interest rate or surety ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 € to compensate for their funding gap. The implementation will be operational from September 2018 for our incubated companies.
What have been your main satisfactions so far? (accompaniments, success stories)
In almost 2 years of operation we have managed to make the incubator a key and essential player in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Guinea. Thanks to founding member partners who are experts in their fields, a versatile team, a dynamic network of local and foreign partners and spaces that are conducive to creativity, we have a number of achievements under our belt:
- support of more than twenty start-ups and SMEs through our support programs
- registration of more than 20 entrepreneurs in the coworking space for activities related to their business projects
- training and awareness of over 500 young students and business entrepreneurs;
- intensive training of 25 girls in web training and mobile development
- organization of various competitions to promote digital in Guinea by putting in competition and mobilizing more than 400 participants
- reach over 2000 participants in our activities and workshops
- fundraising of more than 1 billion Guinean francs for entrepreneurs in competitions, competitions
- organization of at least 2 structuring events for the ecosystem per month
- belonging to a French-speaking incubator network
It is still early to talk about success stories but our companies are growing and have recorded double-digit growth rates since their entry into the incubator, the example of a start-up that we accompany is Smart who has Started incubation with 3 employees, today employs more than 15 employees and has even created a second start-up Magic Guinea which specializes in janitorial and parcel deliveries, and which records good performances.
Another promising start-up Agro-invest, a start-up that benefited from the pre-incubation and incubation program, is evolving in the agricultural sector and is also offering a MMakiti platform enabling rural stakeholders in particular, farmers, agro- food buyers, agricultural products buyers and investors, to create business links in between them, in order to make the best decisions of sale, purchase of agricultural products or investments.
We also support these companies promoting smart sourcing by putting them in business relationship with large groups. Our central role as an incubator, at the heart of the ecosystem, at the crossroads between these different actors and our ability to support through our acceleration programs allow us to raise awareness and facilitate these collaborations.
What are the next steps ?
The next steps will be continuity in our structuring actions: developing and consolidating our open innovation strategy, opening up to other business sectors, strengthening our training component, implementing actions aimed at entrepreneurs in the field inland by partnering with other established support structures.
Catalyze local and international initiatives to boost digital and entrepreneurship in Guinea.
Finally, increase the number of companies benefiting from our support programs by the end of the year.
What do you need and how can AfrikaTech help you?
We are asked by the diaspora who is your target audience, we are open to collaborations that aim to promote the transfer of skills to the community; we already do this through trainings, workshops, coaching sessions during which Guineans from outside take their time to provide their expertise on specialized areas and for which the resources and skills at the local level are sometimes almost nonexistent.
To institutions, donors wishing to implement programs for innovative entrepreneurship of young people and women we invite you to join us in your actions.
What are the contacts of the incubator? Website, email, Mobile / WhatsApp, links to social networks?