We met with Prospérin M. Tsialonina, an entrepreneurial specialist and creator of 100startups.co, a platform created for Malagasy entrepreneurs to develop their business. The goal of this ambitious project: to give a start-up fund of 2000€ to 100 start-ups thanks to 20,000 donations of 10€. The ideas of the pre-selected entrepreneurs will be financed up to 2.000€ in order to deepen the studies, to develop the idea or to set up prototypes. The selected projects will benefit from training,technical assistance and mentoring. These programs will be delivered in partnership with several actors and will be deployed over a period of 3 months. The objective is to maximize the chance of success for each project.
Prospérin studied finance before working for an auditing firm where he had the opportunity to support community projects with small amounts of funding. The impact of these small projects led him to become more interested in entrepreneurship.
Can you tell us briefly about 100startups? What motivated you to develop this project?
I have been observing the business environment in my country since 2006 and have worked with several entrepreneurship actors. There is a glaring gap between the various funding offers and ideas that are not yet mature.
“In Madagascar, no one is interested in projects not yet developed because there are still too many hazards.”
In developed countries, it’s the incubators, usually publicly funded, universities or communities that are interested.” Alas, despite the growing euphoria around entrepreneurship, we don’t have these kinds of structures, especially those that offer seed funding for studies, idea development, or prototypes. This is where I often asked myself the question “how to do it”. But after observing the functioning and results of participatory financing, I consulted friends, family and simple passers-by to see if they would be interested in financing project ideas. Without doing extensive statistics, I felt that it was possible. Some Malagasy friends even advanced the symbolic sum of 10€ or 10$ depending on the country.
I don’t think anyone expected this type of project. I receive dozens of questions and feedbacks per day. I myself am in the team building and project development phase. These questions, comments and advice are very helpful for its development. I would like to remind you that this project is not intended to be commercial. It is more social and supportive.
Your goal is to make Madagascar “a country of startups”, what would be the interest for the country?
100startups is a project that just fills a gap, but can reveal the innovation of tomorrow. However, along with other programs and projects, it contributes to the development of entrepreneurship and employment. Madagascar is a poor country with a young population. We must break this paradox and give these young people the tools to change this.
Who is the team behind 100startups?
They are ladies and gentlemen x or y. The call for collaboration was launched on social networks and the website. I got a lot of interesting responses and these are the people who make up the team. It’s quite enriching because we all come from different backgrounds.
What process will you go through to select the startups that will benefit from your program?
This is going to be our program, not mine. The idea is to collaborate with professionals such as investors, universities, actors, etc. We are not going to wait until all the funds are available. Instead, we’re going to go in waves.
Will we be able to choose the startup we want to invest in?
This ties in with the point above. For example, investors are only interested in fairly developed projects. Their involvement in the selection and part of the support is a good thing in order to assess the feasibility of projects at this stage and to identify those that are likely to succeed and be supported.
Do you plan to follow up, coach or incubate startups?
This is necessary to increase the chance of success of each project idea. We thought of a formula including training, technical assistance and mentoring, over a period of 3 months.
How do you plan to recruit future investors? What is the benefit of participating in this collaborative platform?
For seed funds, it is a matter of collecting donations. The amounts requested are relatively small and we are doing this in a spirit of solidarity. Of course, clear and transparent reports on the use of these funds will have to be submitted.
Do you have a message for young (or not so young) entrepreneurs who would like to start up in Madagascar?
My only advice is that there is no ideal time to develop your idea and launch your business. If there are things you feel you are missing, partner up with someone who has them. Then, it will be like cycling, the more you practice the better you will be. Feel free to take advice and discuss your ideas at every opportunity.
“Don’t be afraid of ideas being stolen from you because if they are easy to copy, it simply means they are not good enough.”