Martin is below 30 but her decision to create a platform for which young and small businesses could survive the crazy business world led to the creation of SIPEC, one of Cameroon's leading business ventures of our time.
Etonde Martin is a young Cameroonian boss lady below 30 who owns and runs SIPEC
(Sherai’s Initiative for Promoting Entrepreneurs in Cameroon), one of the countries most prominent business establishments which opens doors for small businesses.
She speaks with Pulse.ng and tells us about her vision for entrepreneurship in her home country.
Where were you born?
I was born in Douala, Cameroon.
What does SIPEC stand for?
SIPEC stands for Sherai’s Initiative for Promoting Entrepreneurs in Cameroon. Sherai is my nickname given to me by my mother since I was a baby. We target Cameroonian entrepreneurs young and old, male and female. We do not discriminate. You just need to own and run a legitimate business (must be registered).
When did you started SIPEC?
I started SIPEC in November 2013 and had the first SIPEC get-together on 29January 2014. SIPEC was started to meet various pain areas of entrepreneurship. We had a goal to encourage and promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in Cameroon. Through SIPEC, we are assisting businesspersons in the area of client creation, mentor-ship and capital connection.
What inspired its creation?
My inspiration came when I visited Nairobi, Kenya in August 2013. I had just completed my International Business Administration degree exactly 5 years prior to this visit. I realized how much the country had changed and how many small and medium sized enterprises had sprouted. Immediately I thought about what needed to change in Cameroon to get people to not rely only on getting employment but actually creating employment for themselves. I am not the type to sit and wait for change. So I took out my notebook and pen and started writing a project plan. I wrote down the pain areas entrepreneurs may have and I decided that because of these issues entrepreneurs are never created, and if they are created, they hold two jobs: full time job and part time businesses. I wanted to turn these side businesses into full blown businesses where entrepreneurs could depend on for livelihood. This is a long story, but this is how it was birthed. All I needed to do was see a sister country and think of my own country and see what I could do to make things better.
How does it work (benefits)?
Entrepreneurs sign up for SIPEC events (networking events) to show case their services and products. Registration for this event is 50,000FCFA (N17,000). By getting on the platform, entrepreneurs get a chance to pitch their businesses to about 150 guests who can end up being clients, mentors or investors. Entrepreneurs also benefit from marketing and publicity on the SIPEC website, social networks and magazine. SIPEC entrepreneurs also enjoy referral services as they are the first vendors we push out to our sponsors.
Why in Cameroon?
Cameroon is where I call home. It is a country with a lot of potential but people tend to be conservative and look-warm. We are people who are very intelligent and entrepreneurial but there is a push that is necessary to get us to meet our visions. This is why we chose to do this in Cameroon.
What's the future?
The future of SIPEC is limitless. We have grown too fast already in just one year. We intend to grow entrepreneurs beyond their limits. If an enterpriser needs to grow geographically beyond the boundaries of Cameroon and we can make that happen, we will. We just need the right partnerships with the right organizations. We are working with the local and multinational companies currently working in Cameroon but we are also looking at International bodies that will be a great asset to us.