VIA Don Bosco and OVO helping former students in Africa to become entrepreneurs

Published: 03/01/2023

In late January, Tony Cnudde of the NGO VIA Don Bosco traveled to Cotonou, Benin's largest city, to attend the "boost camp" of OVO's SusTech4Africa program. Through this intercultural program, OVO aims to support and promote sustainable entrepreneurship in Africa. Two former students from VIA Don Bosco's partner school in Cotonou participated with their business "Esprit Lumière".

SusTech4Africa helps starting entrepreneurs with African roots to optimize their business plans and make them more sustainable. After a thorough selection, 14 entrepreneurs were invited to participate in a multi-day "boost camp" under the guidance of Belgian and African experts. The participants were immersed into matters of business management, marketing, the business model canvas, doing business according to the SDGs and much more.


After the in-depth training, the businesses were judged by an external jury. The best entrepreneurs had a chance to obtain a social loan and were allowed to continue working on the success of their business with intensive remote coaching during the next stage.

Former VIA Don Bosco students Joshua and Dieudonné through to the next stage

Joshua and Dieudonné are two former students of VIA Don Bosco's partner school in Cotonou. The Belgian NGO works with several schools in Africa and South America to support the right to quality education for all. The two fellows enthusiastically participated in the boostcamp and were chosen by the jury for the next path. Together they founded the business "Esprit Lumière" by manufacturing small furniture and floor lamps. Through the SusTech4Africa program, they now aim to grow the business from the informal to the formal economy.


The boys quickly proved their considerable talent, yet they lacked the necessary experience to move onto the next track. Therefore, VIA Don Bosco decided to provide them an additional 12 months of preparation with additional training from GED Sud Bénin. They financed this themselves, along with a large contribution from Jean Patrick Holvoet of the Belgian company Sentinalco.


The GED Sud Bénin training will soon be over and Joshua and Dieudonné will be able to enter the next stage. They will have to overcome many challenges with their business, since the economic situation in Benin is not at all easy. But the two boys certainly have enough ambition to succeed. If this business does not succeed, they already have a great foundation for another successful career in entrepreneurship.


Author: Tony Cnudde of NGO VIA Don Bosco


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