AFFORD will launch a pilot project in Benin to examine the investment potential of the diaspora in the small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector with the aim of strengthening entrepreneurship and creating sustainable jobs.
In the ten-month pilot phase – funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) – the main objective will be to harness and maximise diaspora contributions to stimulate wealth, job creation, and social development in rural and urban areas of Benin.
AFFORD will promote the development of SMEs mainly in the agricultural sector, which have the potential to grow and major labour absorption capacity while suffering from a significant percentage of underemployed workers.
We will mobilise and support diaspora investors and volunteers to create jobs in emerging and diverse sectors and to provide capacity building to Beninese youth and women
An outreach campaign will be organised to mobilise the Beninese diaspora across Europe – in Switzerland, France, UK, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Spain – who wish to invest in Benin. AFFORD will conduct research and due diligence to select diaspora investors with a successful investment history to obtain loans to develop businesses.
The programme will increase the employability and business skills of selected Beninese youth and women to enable them to create sustainable income opportunities.
Diaspora volunteers will be engaged to deliver training and coaching in business development to Beninese young people and women. This will strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit of young Beninese and women and allow them to succeed in the job market and improve their lives. By increasing the number of young people and women in Benin with technical skills adapted to the needs of their industry, they will be able to take available job opportunities and possibly start their own businesses.
AFFORD will strengthen the business knowledge of investors in the African diaspora and local Beninese 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). A local diaspora centre will also be established in Benin, providing an incubation space for local businesses run by young people and women.
We 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 and the establishment of ongoing relationships and collaboration 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, reduce incentives to migrate, mitigate the risk of ‘irregular’ migration and contribute to the SDC objectives of the global programme on migration and development (GPMD) at national level and in relation to foreign policy objectives.
The project aims to contribute to the development of a dynamic and well-supported SME sector in Benin. The project will also contribute to the achievement of several SDGs.