By Ajong Mbapndah L & Samuel Ouma
It gives me great pride to be the first Togolese to reach this level of the competition but this is far from over because my ultimate goal to be amongst the top laureates of the 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition, says Minsob Logou,Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of FOUFOUMIX SA. Credited with the creation of several sustainable technological solutions to the daily problems of his community, Minsob Logou says he remains firmly focused on the rest of the competition.
Responding to questions from Pan African Visions, Logou says the future of Africa and Togo specifically is entrepreneurship. With initiatives like the ABH, Minsob Logou predicts a bright future for the next generation of African entrepreneurs.
Congratulations on being named one of this year’s Top 20 Outstanding Entrepreneurs for the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) competition. Tell us how you found out about ABH and what prompted you to apply?
I became aware of ABH through social media, specifically Instagram. The day I found out about the competition, there were only 6 days left to enter. As a matter of fact, I have entered several competitions and have received about ten awards and distinctions since I started my business. These awards are displayed at the office, yet, have little impact whatsoever on my business. Since my last award, I had decided to stop entering such competitions; so that to give younger entrepreneurs their chance. When I saw the announcement of ABH, I wondered if it was worth it! But when I took a closer look at the eligibility criteria, I realized that this competition was rather reserved for mature companies with more than three years of existence, and it offered many advantages. That’s when I decided to apply. The deadline was against me because the application process is quite complex; it was not easy! But my whole team supported me, and we worked tirelessly to meet the deadline. And that’s exactly what we’ve accomplished.
This is the first time ever that a candidate from Togo has made it to the Top 20. How does it feel to become the first Togolese entrepreneur to make it this far in a such a competitive business contest spanning across the continent?
To be honest, it gives me great pleasure to have reached this level of the competition and to realize that I am the first Togolese to do so. However, I remain very focused on the rest of the competition, which is not over yet, because my ultimate goal is to reach the top of this major competition.
What important lessons have you gained from your experience with the ABH competition and training?
The ABH competition is a rigorous and long process, yet very rich in lessons and experiences. I have completed several bootcamps, coaching and online training sessions. I have learned to become more focused, concise, and to understand the importance of communication in front of potential investors, partners, and clients. Thanks to ABH, I have taken a fresh new look at my business, its impact on my community, its economic model and especially the steps to follow when unexpected obstacles (COVID 19, counterfeiting, etc.) arise and learned different ways to maintain a sustainable business.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey, the main challenges you have encountered along the way, and how you have managed to stay in business through it all?
Entrepreneurship always comes with its own challenges and difficulties, and I have experienced a few as an entrepreneur. The biggest and most recurring challenge is to secure proper financing for my business and to ensure that it meets your company’s needs. I have developed strategies based on a trust-based approach with financial institutions in order to obtain more flexible credit access requirements. I have also implemented another strategy based on the great traction of my product and an innovative discount policy in order to bring my customers to pre-finance my production. On the other hand, this discount policy remains a real loss of income for me, unless I obtain adequate financing.
What business advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in Togo?
Entrepreneurship is a world of great constraints that requires the utmost discipline. Every entrepreneur should know this and keep it in mind. In Togo, the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs are not negligeable. I would advise all future Togolese entrepreneurs, to build a strong mindset in order to overcome hardships. I assure you that it is not easy! But, with courage and dedication, success will inevitably be the reward.
Please tell us a little more about your company FOUFOUMIX SA and how it addresses community problems in Togo or in any other country in which you operate?
FOUFOUMIX SA is an industrial company that produces and markets a foufou machine called Foufoumix. As you probably know, foufou is a very popular dish in West Africa. It is made from plantain bananas or yams or cassava tubers. The production of foufou is a very complicated process. The cooked tubers are pounded in a mortar with pestles for several minutes. It is an unhygienic, tiring and very painful exercise. For large families like mine, the task is even more difficult because of the number of people to cater to. And this is exactly why I invented the foufou machine “FOUFOUMIXTM”. Today, my company has had a significant impact on not only my community, in Togo and in the sub region, but also in the diaspora. More than ten thousand machines have been delivered to this date. Thanks to Foufoumix, foufou is obtained easily, and properly in a record time. So far, we have received nothing but amazing feedback and testimonials from our clientele.
The ABH competition will continue for another 7 years. Could you provide a few key points for Togolese entrepreneurs who may be interested in entering the upcoming editions of the competition?
The ABH competition is a great opportunity for Togolese entrepreneurs. It is a unique chance for any of my fellow entrepreneurs to improve their business management, to keep their account in order etc. I would strongly advise that they enter the next editions of the ABH competition and get to experience this wonderful program. The other key element to consider is to surround yourself with a dynamic team to help you through all the different stages of the process. This is a very important aspect of the competition.
What future do you see for entrepreneurship in Togo and Africa?
The future of Africa, and Togo specifically, is entrepreneurship. However, as I said at the beginning of the interview, the industry is very challenging. But with continental initiatives such as ABH, that provide a platform to support African entrepreneurship, I believe that the next generation of entrepreneurs have a bright future ahead of them.
Any final words to Togolese entrepreneurs or the organizers of the ABH competition?
It’s time for Africa! This is the slogan of the 2021 edition of the ABH competition. I invite all Togolese entrepreneurs to join the exceptional ABH competition and seize the opportunity that is offered to them over the next seven years, to transform Togolese entrepreneurship into a driving force for growth, job creation and wealth.
I am taking part in the third edition of the ABH competition. It feels like the ninth one! Everything is so perfect! Well done to the organizers of the ABH competition for their professionalism, leadership, and proactivity. The COVID 19 pandemic apparently had no effect on the running of the program. This shows how their commitment to contribute to the development of our continent goes beyond any challenge. It is an incredible experience!