We recently announced our collaboration with SIPEC an acronym for Sherai’s Initiative for Promoting Entrepreneurs in Cameroon organised by Sheraiz Delightz. Our collaboration came as a result of being introduced to the maiden event hosted under the banner of “Networking, a key tool for successful business” which took place at the White House restaurant in Bonapriso.
This initiative seeks to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in Cameroon through identifying entrepreneurs and small businesses and creating a platform whereby their services and products can be marketed in a fun and light hearted way.
With the second event due on the 24th of April we went behind the scenes to talk to the power force behind SIPEC – the very driven Etonde Martin. Below is our catch up…
MMPR: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What will you say is your greatest asset?
Etonde: I am an extremely hardworking and self driven person. I am very confident about myself and the things I do. I consider myself a self starter and can always think ideas, implement them and run with them. My biggest asset is my self-belief. When I set my mind to do something, when I have that conviction from God that it is the right thing. It is really hard to derail me.
MMPR: The SIPEC initiative kicked off because of what you witnessed whilst in East Africa. Please tell us more about your experiences there and what you learnt.
Etonde: I must apologize for the length of this coming text…I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Nairobi Kenya in 2008. I returned to Cameroon shortly after graduation and have worked here ever since. I visited Nairobi in August 2013 and I was blown away by how much the country had changed. There were new roads everywhere, new companies had suddenly sprung up, more buildings in the city center. Cut a long story short, Nairobi had been transformed. The economic activity had given the country a face-lift. I also took the liberty of going to my alma matta and met a few friends who were all working in Nairobi, most of them had started their own companies. The most exciting discovery I made was when I had a discussion with one of my best friends, Lulu from Tanzania, who told me about a classmate of ours who runs a program for small businesses where she gets them all together, gets larger companies to sponsor the events and organizes an open day every last Sunday of the month. You pay an entrance fee, larger companies have stands and they showcase and sell their products, smaller companies especially in the entertainment industry get an opportunity to showcase their talents. They come with their CDs, they meet sponsors, investors, managers etc. There is generally a lot to eat and drink at her events which keeps people there all day. With Muthoni’s initiative, she has been able to get artists and all kinds of young talents noticed, she has created labels and made successful business people out of small artists. This is what got me thinking about creating SIPEC.
MMPR: So why did you choose to focus on the business side of networking?
Etonde: I believe what works in A can work in B, I however know that what works in A must not necessarily be done the same way in B and one must always understand the culture and differences in people before trying out or implementing things. I chose the business side of networking for Cameroon because we already have trade fairs which have succeeded in getting companies to show case their products and services. I however know that we don’t have enough successful entrepreneurs and we don’t dare to dream. We don’t want to do things differently or venture into new areas. From talking to people I realized many Cameroonians can be successful business people but they never will because they stay complacent. I knew I could through SIPEC give them the assistance they require to get noticed, grow larger and remain sustainable.
MMPR: Networking is so important but many businesses choose to ignore it. Why do you think?
Etonde: Ignorance, Fear & Greed…We don’t know sharing ideas is necessary for sustainable growth. We are afraid when we network and share ideas people will steal them and lastly we don’t want to share success and wealth with others so we don’t network. When you network effectively you form partnerships with stakeholders. These partnerships will enable you soar.
MMPR: What other added benefits will the businesses involved gain from SIPEC?
Etonde: Through SIPEC, businesses that partner with us will get exposure, new clients, new suppliers, finance, mentoring and coaching. In brief, we have customized solutions for our partners, we want to work with them to enable them succeed, so we are all about strategic partnerships.
MMPR: What next for SIPEC?
Etonde: For 2014, we are getting the businesses to meet and know each other. In 2015 we will bring the businesses together and equip them with success skills. SIPEC wants entrepreneurs to soar like eagles and we are committed to seeing that happen.
Meet the woman herself below…
Follow SIPEC on Twitter: @sipeccameroon
Follow us on Twitter for more information on #Sipec2: @ModeMaisonPR