Due to the harshness of the external environment, Young Africans often face obstructions on their pursuit of starting and operating a business, while youth unemployment is extremely high. Even though trainings are present generously by non-profits and development agencies, youth still undeniably challenged to open a business. Most talented Young Leaders are trapped as they lack access to infrastructure (office space, equipment, tools, internet), long-term nurturing (coaching), and financials.
In the pilot program started in Aug 2019, there were 5 local entrepreneurs moved in to the business incubator’s office. Business field is diverse and the level of their operation also vary from concept to making already some level of sustainable profit.
theSPACE is at the first level of a well-located building in Fidjrosse, Cotonou, Benin Republic. It is approximately a 10-minute walk from the beach and the area considered a higher estate neighborhood.
The current infrastructure offers 2 apartments (costs 350 Eur per month):
- Apartment 1, is the designated office area with an open space offering around 15 seats through several desks. Stable fiber internet is provided. It also has a separate room for meetings with a whiteboard, storage place, a table with 5 office chairs, and an attached toilet.
Currently, there is also another room with an attached toilet and storage place furnished to host 5 more entities.
- Apartment 2, is currently used as a kitchen and dining area as well as the two rooms are set for hosting the founder and guests arriving on site as international trainers, coaches and other visitors.
The open space is set for a designated training room with 20 seats, a projector (TV device).
PLANNED INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTUCTURE
- Generator for providing constant electricity as in sometimes there is a blackout issue in the area. (the situations isn’t unique across West African nations)
- Raising security with adding cameras to the balconies and iron bars on windows.
- Air Conditioning both Apartments as during dry seasons already installed ceiling fans aren’t enough. (done in 2020)
- Furnishing the training room and build 5 more seats in the empty room in apartment 1. (done n 2020)
- Adding more lights, and decorations to increase comfort and mood.
- Company Car is also needed to be available for Incubated Enterprises/ Founder when attending partnership meetings for representation reasons.
- Equipment for kitchen, dinning area and bedrooms are already available but further investment for Tools like computers, tablets, professional camera (with stand and microphone, lights) and some other (free time and training) devices would be beneficial to all.
Founder & CEO at theSPACE
Krisztina is passionate about SDG 10 – Reducing Inequalities. Therefore, she opened a Business Incubator piloting in Cotonou, where she volunteered over a year as National Marketing Director of AIESEC in 2015/16. Her dream is to franchise this Business Incubator across West Africa as an opportunity for local youth to create their livelihood and the well-needed jobs in the region through entrepreneurism.
theSPACE seed money was 50% paid by her day job salary 50% by a generous individual’s donation who seen the social impact and potential in Kriszti and prefers to remain anonym.
Kriszti is currently working in the UK as a Carer (assistant for wheelchair users).
She studied Leadership and Management master course at University of Pannonia, (Veszprem, Hungary) with Organisational Development and Human Resource Management specialization.
She spent around 3,5 years across West Africa on diverse projects both volunteering and paid since 2014. Her life currently is divided between Benin, UK and sometimes for a few weeks her home: Hungary.
Kriszti spends nearly half year working with the businesses on site and the other half to make sustainable income to sponsor her passion project.
Kriszti could have not started this project without those 5 CEOs who trusted her to move their businesses in to theSPACE for this pilot project phase and constantly inspiring her to find better ways of creating a bigger impact.
There are also numerous Beninese and internationals from Kriszti’s personal network who are joining in as trainers, coaches and investors to support the growth of the incubator and the incubated entreprises.
We are looking forward to build out the core team and invite people to be part of this service to our Incubated Local Enterprises.
If interested, please send your English CV and English motivational letter with details why do you want to join to this project in Cotonou. (for locals only!)