Senegal: 58 Years On, A Nation of Entrepreneurial Growth

Since breaking away from centuries of French colonial rule in 1960, Senegal has undergone fundamental changes.

We take a brief look at three key areas that are driving the nation forward.

Political Stability

Despite some upheavals and difficulties from Casamance, a region in the southern area which sought more autonomy, Senegal has created a stable and democratic political system over the years. President Macky Sall was elected in 2012, and a constitutional referendum that decreased presidential mandates from 7 to 5 years improved Senegal’s political system.

Economic Growth

In terms of the national economy, Senegal experienced years of modest growth between 2007 and 2013. The country established the new Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE), created to encourage high-growth levels and decrease poverty. In the past 2 years, Senegal’s economic growth has increased because of consistent structural reforms and more competitiveness in a positive external environment.

Entrepreneurial Progress

In its post-independence state of modest economic growth mixed with less stable progress on a social level, Senegal exhibits signs of entrepreneurial ingenuity and progress.

Senegal competed in Seedstars Dhaka’s local competition which invests in promising startups around the world.

Funded by Senegal’s government and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the $120 million Diamniadio Technology Park exemplifies Senegal’s, as well as West Africa’s, growing presence in the global tech startup field.

This former colony has startups that show technological and entrepreneurial potential, and here are 4 of them.

InTouch

InTouch is a fintech startup which transforms access to payment and digital services in Africa.

Large sales outlets can accept all payment methods through Senegal’s customer- friendly startup. InTouch’s Guichet Unique solution allows retailers to network and allocate third-party services including bill payments, card top-up, insurance and banking and entertainment subscriptions.

Seni Apps

Founded by Ama and Seyina, Seni Apps develops custom web and iOS/Android-based mobile apps. Established through the company, SakanaiApp is popular among local craftsmen and within West Africa. SakanaiApp monitors and controls their electricity usage.

Oolu

Oolu is a rapidly-expanding off-grid solar company developed with local communities. Founded in 2015, Oolu offers affordable solar products, replacing parts under warranty and provides efficient customer service.

Oolu has impacted Senegal on a social and economic level.

This solar company employs local individuals through a training scheme and it provides “households with brighter, more efficient light and in-home chargers at a small fraction”. In March, Oolu won the Hogan Lovells Solar Innovation Award for rural work in Mali.

Matontine

Founded by brother and sister, Bernie Akporiaye and Dr. Tosan Oruwarlye, Matontine offers access to small loans and financial services such as microinsurance. As stated on their website, Matontine digitizes “the traditional, centuries-old, peer-to-peer saving circles (Tontine) in Africa and beyond”.  The startup is concerned with improving the fiscal situation of people who are financially excluded in Africa.

These innovative startups are a few amongst many. Senegal is on the rise as a nation with impactful and necessary companies.

If it continues this trend, Senegal’s future looks bright and promising.