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The new initiative harnesses and maximises diaspora knowledge, financial and physical contributions to stimulate wealth, generate employment and promote social development across the country.
ABC Benin mobilises and supports diaspora investors and volunteers across Europe through expert advisory support, training, grants and loans to create jobs in emerging and diverse sectors.
It increases the employability and business skills of Beninese young people and women by providing mentors, business advisory, business development sessions and investment to enable them to create sustainable income opportunities.
The AFFORD Business Centre (ABC) launched its ABC Benin project in February 2020 to enhance the investment potential of the diaspora in the small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector.
During a ten-month pilot phase – with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) – ABC Benin will promote the development of SMEs which have the potential to grow and have major labour absorption capacity.
An outreach campaign will be organised to mobilise the Beninese diaspora across Europe – primarily in Switzerland, France, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg and other countries – who wish to invest in Benin.
ABC will conduct research and due diligence to select diaspora entrepreneurs and investors with successful businesses to obtain grants/loans to grow their businesses or develop other Beninese businesses.
In Benin, ABC, through its partnership with MDF Benin will also select local entrepreneurs – young people and women – to obtain grants/loans to grow their businesses. In both cases, key focus will be on decent job creation, social impact and financial sustainability
Diaspora volunteers will be engaged to deliver training, coaching and mentoring in business development to diaspora and local Beninese businesses. This will strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit of diaspora businesses as well as young people and women and allow them to succeed in the SME sector and improve their lives.
ABC will strengthen the business knowledge in the African diaspora and local Beninese entrepreneurs and investors and strengthen their networks to make African SMEs more viable and sustainable.
The AFFORD Business Centre in Benin will be a centre of excellence promoting the AFFORD business model, encouraging aspiring diaspora investors to invest and providing services (training, advice, and practical resources) for Beninese entrepreneurs. It will also provide an incubation space for local businesses run by young people and women.
ABC will also carry out advocacy to eliminate barriers to investment and SME growth in Benin. There will be a baseline study on obstacles to the growth and profitability of SMEs and the state of business development support services. It will establish relationships, and collaborate, with national and international decision-makers and institutions to improve the operational environment for businesses.
By assessing the barriers to the development of entrepreneurs in Benin and creating more opportunities, this pilot aims to focus on the needs of Beninese entrepreneurs: encourage job creation, create more economic opportunities and mitigate the risk of ‘irregular’ migration for young people in particular.
The project aims to contribute to the development of a dynamic and well-supported SME sector in Benin and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).