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D+C  e-Paper  December 2015 33 African Business Association, admits that Germany’s important SMEs still tend to perceive Africa as “a continent shaken by crises and corruption”. Bridge builders The good news is that German SMEs are increasingly relying on business consult- ants of African descent. Cheick Diallo is one of them. He is from Guinea. For two years, he has been working on assignment for MC-Bauchemie, a mid-sized company that supplies the construction industry with innovative and standard chemicals. It is based in the Ruhr area, has a labour force of 2.200 and runs production plants in Europe as well as overseas. Diallo coordinated the establishment of an MC-Bauchemie’s subsidiary in his home country, and is now advising the company on how to market its products in countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. The consultant says that there are many opportunities in Africa, but Ger- man companies are losing out to com- petitors from emerging markets, such as Brazil, China and Turkey. He is happy to be able to make use of his professional and intercultural competences and earn a good income. He says MC-Bauchemie is now confident “to establish long-standing relationships across the African conti- nent”. Other entrepreneurs of African descent have established money-transfer schemes. Their target group is the African diaspora, and they offer cheaper rates than West- ern Union and MoneyGram, the giants of this industry. More and more Africans are remitting money via diaspora start-ups. Mamadou Diop lives in Berlin and has been running a company that transfers money to Senegal and Gambia for four years. He says he benefits from the dias- pora’s lack of trust in the big money-trans- fer brands. Other competitive advantages include lower fees and his cultural prox- imity to the target group. His personal roots are in Anglophone Gambia and Francophone Senegal, which helps him to attract clients from both linguistic com- munities. Word-of-mouth advertising has helped him, he says. He is proud to have business relations in 12 African countries today. Exporting merchandise to Africa is another fast expanding business sector for the diaspora. In the 1980s and 1990s, cars were what mattered most. Today, var- ious consumer goods are relevant – from technical hardware to food, cosmetics and clothes. The goods are often procured in Asia. Traders travel from Germany to Asia, go on to Africa and return to Ger- many. Ashioma Udechukwu is one of these commercial travellers. She is a 27 years old Nigerian and based in Berlin. She says: Studying in Germany helped to tackle Ethiopian problems In 2013 Eskinder Mamo and Amanuel Abrah founded AhadooTec ICT Solutions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Both are graduates of German universities. As stu- dents, they had been active in community work and were among those who founded the Ethiopian Student and Alumni Associa- tion Germany (ESAAG), which has since become the largest association of Ethiopi- ans in the country. The particular strength of Ahadoo is to tackle social needs with innovative techni- cal solutions. The first project was to cre- ate a platform for high-school and college students in Ethiopia, allowing the target group to access courses, check out up-to- date learning material and form virtual learning groups and e-Learning-teams. “With our mobile phone application we reached four hundred schools in the first step”, Eskinder reports. “In the second phase, we are targeting 1,000 schools.” To use the app, one needs a large-screen mobile phone of the kind that is manufac- tured in China. The devices do not cost much money. Ahadoos second major project is even more ambitious. Ahadoo has convinced the World Bank to finance an innovative scheme that will use a web-based mobile platform for farmers and agro-business entrepreneurs. The idea is to provide them with information on cultivation methods, climate and weather, pest warn- ings and other information they need to make the most of their business. Ahadoo is facing huge challenges, however, including massive bureaucracy, poor infra- structure and a weak internet. The com- pany’s founders appreciate, however, that Ethiopian regulations make it easy for ex-pats to come home and start a busi- ness. Currently, Ahadoo employs 12 people including seven at fulltime, three at part- time jobs and the two founders. In the next two years, Ahadoo expects to expand and create more jobs, both in Ethiopia and Germany, where a software and program- ming service office is about to be estab- lished. (ard) Eskinder Mamo (right) and Amanuel Abrah founded AhadooTec ICT Solutions in Addis Ababa. Ahadoo