From an investor’s and an entrepreneur’s point of view, Africa is bursting with opportunities. The co-founders of freight and online logistics hub BiFasor, founded in 2015, know all about it. With its Head Quarters in France, the firm has operations across the continent, from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana to Senegal and Burundi. Afrinection spoke to co-founder Steven Silverstein about BiFasor’s present and aspirations, the role of shipping in driving Africa forward, the company's meeting with the president of Burkina Faso and the continent's role as a global business destination.
Q. What does BiFasor do?
A. BiFasor is an online professional network for service providers and shippers in Africa's transport and logistics industry. BiFasor puts shippers, carriers, freight forwarders and warehouse operators, among others, into direct contact with one another. We provide them with a unique dashboard to manage their interactions, so that they can offer, find, stock and deliver shipments seamlessly, all while establishing durable business relationships.
Q. What makes the African freight and logistics sector so attractive as an entrepreneur?
A. Anyone who has spent time in Africa waiting for a package, or who was told at the local boutique/kiosk that the item they wanted was out of stock, will understand why we entered the sector. Properly functioning logistics is integral to Africa’s commerce but is much neglected as a domain needing support.
If anyone understands the criticality of transport and logistics in Africa, its Zakaria Dabone, BiFasor's CEO. He was literally born on the road between his family's village home and the hospital because his father could only find a motorcycle at the very last minute to carry his pregnant mother into town to give birth.
Q. Your HQ is in France. What is BiFasor's connection to Africa?
A. Zakaria's family has run a profitable transportation business in San Pedro, Côte d'Ivoire since the 1960s. Zakaria himself has seen first-hand the potential for increased profits in the sector and the challenges impeding that potential. He also knows that improving the industry is something that will not just benefit the small and medium-sized companies that keep goods moving in Africa, but will benefit the consumers who need those goods.
From food and medicine, and cars and motorcycles, to tools and parts and televisions and phones, transport and logistics are the lifeblood of Africa's economies. For Zakaria, transport and logistics is in his blood. It is for this reason that he founded BiFasor with Rym Soussi, Djiby Konaté, Tommaso Bianco, and myself.
Q. What makes Africa such an interesting business destination?
A. There is huge potential for tremendous growth. The potential for technological solutions to help advance progress at the speed of light. The sincere and tireless partners who want you to succeed so that their families, communities, and countries can be better off.
Q. What is Africa's greatest promise, and why?
A. When most people think about Africa’s development, they think of aid organisations and charities. What they need to be thinking about are the hardworking women and men who are developing the continent through their private enterprises and entrepreneurialism. BiFasor believes that Africa’s great promise lies in helping the companies who make Africa run to become more efficient, more profitable, and more integrated into world markets.
Q. Why did you and the other co-founders choose to go the entrepreneurial route?
A. Three of our co-founders — Zak, Rym, and myself — have worked in the public and nonprofit sectors. We have realised that as well-intentioned as those sectors can be in furthering Africa’s advancement, they are no substitute for private enterprise. Because we believe sincerely in affecting change, we decided that the only way we could do this was through the private sector.
Q. What has been the highlight since BiFasor opened its doors (in the African context)?
A. We were invited to meet with His Excellency President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kaboré at his residence in Ouagadougou. At the meeting, President Kaboré pledged his support to BiFasor . Later an article about the encounter appeared in the widely-read French magazine “Jeune Afrique”.
Q. What is your main bit of advice to African entrepreneurs who want to make it?
A. Surround yourself with good, like-minded people who are ready to subject themselves to the ups and downs of getting to success.
Q. Where can we follow you on social media?
Do you want to be our next Featured Member and share your business ideas and entrepreneurial achievements with us and the rest of the world? To qualify, please register as a user on the Afrinection website and complete your profile in the best way you can. Use the power of words to make us choose you, and don’t forget to upload a recent picture of yourself. Only the most compelling profiles stand a chance to be featured! Once you have completed your profile, please drop us an email. Who knows, maybe you will be Afrinection’s next Featured Member!