You have also started Goldsky Partners Advisory. What was the inspiration behind this endeavour?
Goldsky Partners is another venture that allows me to use my skills from my initial career path. After I received my master’s in Financial Engineering, I had the chance to work on complex projects (mergers and acquisitions, project financing, capital investment) from the early stages (pitch presentation, teaser, memorandum) to the execution (closing the deal). My experience in different sectors gave me a certain approach when it comes to solving problems.
Through Goldsky Partners Advisory, I offer my expertise on financial projects, on contracts in the public sector and also to mentor and coach young entrepreneurs like myself and help them develop their strategy. For example, I recently worked on the creation of microfinance, the restructuring of a pharmaceutical company and financial planning for a client to relieve him from his debt on a project estimated at more than CFA franc 4bn (US$8m).
At this time, I still dedicate around 80% of my time to Madlyn Cazalis. Goldsky Partners will progress with time and probably though partnership because we still need high quality consulting firms in Cameroon.
What are some of the main challenges you face in business in Cameroon? How do you plan to overcome them?
The biggest challenge in Cameroon is scepticism. The public sector is not making things easy. Also, a lot of people are still scared to consume Cameroonian [products] because there is that myth that products of quality must necessarily come from overseas. The hardest thing to accomplish will be to establish our model and to reassure the Cameroonian consumer by inspiring trust.
For an outsider thinking of entering Cameroon to do business, what advice do you have?
I would ask them to take their time to think about their project and to keep learning every day from others and from their environment. When you start a project, it is good to ask yourself: ‘Why am I doing this? Do I want to change the world?’ Changing the world does not mean reinventing the wheel. Changing the world is sometimes bringing a breath of fresh air to solve simple problems. The farmer who creates five new jobs is changing the world, a volunteer for a non-profit organisation fighting hunger is changing the world and a young man who builds a startup with a different approach is also changing the world.
The main difficulty is still the resistance of a world with a unique view or the fear of being judged when you innovate, for example. We should just go beyond our apprehensions and break the current models to innovate. At the end, it is the entrepreneur with his heart and vision that carries the project.
In which other sectors or industries do you see potential for business success?
I would say that today in Africa, all the sectors are a source of opportunities because everything needs to be redone. Everything depends on how one starts his business and how he reinvents the existing model. Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa still need a lot: infrastructure (roads, real estate), energy (solar panels, electricity), media (TV stations), healthcare (hospitals, urgent care facilities), manufacturing (products made in Africa), entertainment (cultural products and events), processing of natural resources (mines, metallurgy), affordable and reliable means of communication (telecoms, IT). As you can tell, the list is pretty long. So if someone is passionate about what he does, I would encourage him to come home and to add his stone to the African edifice.