Cameroonian enterprise in…China

Kingsley’s Int’l. Trading Ltd., Guangzhou, China. Photo by Christiane Badgley

As my last post indicated, doing business in Cameroon is tough.  But if the business climate is less than ideal for foreign investors, it’s even harsher for Cameroonians who don’t benefit from the incentive programs in place to attract foreign investment.

Kingsley Azieh Che was one of several Africans I met who run manufacturing companies in Guangzhou, China. Azieh Che, who is Cameroonian, attended university in Cameroon, but set up his business in China. Today he runs an apparel factory. He began buying ready-made clothes in China; as the business grew he started ordering custom-made clothing and when his orders became too large for his suppliers, Kingsley Azieh Che decided to go into manufacturing. He now takes orders from clients around the world.

I asked him why he didn’t run a factory in Cameroon where so many people need jobs. He laughed. But then he ran down the list of everything that makes running a business back home unthinkable: terrible roads, insufficient electricity and water. In China, he said, there are plenty of buildings available for businesses; in Cameroon he would likely have to construct a building. Getting a business loan is extremely difficult.  There’s no equipment in Cameroon, yet import duties on machinery are high. Moving goods out of Cameroon is costly. The list went on.

Local entrepreneurs who want to start the manufacturing businesses Cameroon needs face one obstacle after another. Maybe one day the government officials will listen to the Cameroonian entrepreneurs who have created businesses and jobs outside the country. There are certainly lessons to learn.

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