How Nkafu Policy Institute is empowering small business owners in Cameroon’s informal job sector

In Cameroon, the tax rate is so high and bureaucracy and corruption are so rampant that over 70 percent of small businesses operate in the informal sector. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, the few small businesses that are formally recognized by Cameroon lose approximately 57 percent of their profits to taxes. So the Nkafu Policy Institute, an Atlas Network partner based in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, is dedicated to changing these numbers by educating entrepreneurs and building a community of small business owners.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of Cameroon’s future,” said Dr. Denis Foretia, co-chair of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation and Senior Fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute. “These new roundtable discussions are helping entrepreneurs in Cameroon overcome the barriers to prosperity and opportunity.”

On June 15, as part of its Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC), Nkafu Policy Institute hosted a roundtable meeting in the capital city Yaoundé with a theme of “Challenges Facing Small Businesses in Cameroon” — a theme that resonated with the more than 30 representatives and owners of small businesses in attendance. As part of the organization’s mission to improve the business climate in Cameroon, this roundtable was dedicated to discussing the legal requirements for business creation in Cameroon, and the most common causes of business failure and how entrepreneurs can avoid them. Cameroon’s climate is so corrupt that Javnyuy Joybert, a young entrepreneur and proprietor of three startups, voiced a common complaint among business owners when he said, “If you pay money for your files to be processed, it takes a shorter time.”

While the government has indicated a willingness to improve the business climate in Cameroon, there have been very few actual reforms. The effectiveness of the One-Stop-Shop, an office created to facilitate and accompany business initiatives, was dampened by “institutionalized” hindrances — so the roundtable participants discussed ways to help business owners transition from the informal to the formal sector.

The roundtable concluded with some advice for entrepreneurs to delegate responsibility of their small businesses to build feelings of ownership among employees and increase sustainability.  As part of Nkafu Policy Institute and its SBEC strategy to bring together a community of dedicated Cameroonian small business owners, these roundtables will be ongoing, with the next one scheduled for July 2017. Nkafu Policy Institute is well on its way not only to helping entrepreneurs further develop their skill sets, but also to creating a national platform to advocate for free-market and liberal economic policies.