On the 10th of February a day before Cameroon’s Youth Day, Intellium Global Training organized a Conference themed “Salon Nouvelle Vie Professionnelle”. Mr. Bonie Fon CEO and MD of Bonaventure & Co., was invited as a guest speaker to speak on alternative methods of financing a company, financial planning and wealth management. Other guest speakers at the conference speaking on the different aspects of setting up and managing a successful business included; Dr. Isidore Bikoko President of Intellium Global Training, Dr. Charles Ngadjifna Professor at ESSEC, Mr. Sylvain Ahanda a senior Banker at BICEC and Madam Candace Nkoth Bisseck Country manager at Kaymu Cameroon’s leading online marketplace.
At the conference, Mr. Fon pointed out to aspiring entrepreneurs and participants that how to finance a business was the most important question that needed to be answered before a person could venture into any form of business. He went further to distinguish between the traditional sources of finance which included; bank credit, cash from family, friends or “njangis”, personal savings and equity financing.
What he observed from the participants was their heightened curiosity and interest equity in equity financing – its merits and drawbacks. At a time when very few Cameroonians understand how global companies like Google, Facebook and Uber just to name got their startup financing became apparent that the non-prevalence and vulgarization of equity finance in Cameroon as a source of finance was not solely because people had never heard or thought about it, but because there was a cultural resistance to having someone other than the founder/promoter be the sole owner of the company. Reputable Private Equity firms like ECP which has an office in Douala has been around long enough to show that while bigger more mature companies knew about equity financing there were really no firms involved in venture capital which targeted mainly startups.
One of the most important distinctions Mr. Fon pointed out in his two hour long presentation between debt finance and equity finance was the simple yet important notion that with debt finance an entrepreneur had to grapple with making monthly loan payments while on the other hand an equity investor only received dividends when the board approved. It was also made abundantly clear that an equity investor had a legitimate interest in helping the business grow as this had a direct relationship with the value and return on his/her of investment.
As concerns financial planning, participants were duly informed that having a clean personal financial bill of health was essential to running a successful business. Mr. Fon discussed the known and unknown events in life which had significant financial implications. He took the discussion a step forward by giving common examples of how such events could impair a person’s financial wellbeing if not planned for ahead of time. On wealth management, the participants were made to concentrate their focus on the benefits of building an equity portfolio/brokerage account as that becomes possible in the near future, using it either as a safety net for retirement or a safeguard for known and unknown events.