The adventures of Ola Aminou, entrepreneur and knight of great causes

Ola Aminou is a fighter. She has an energy resolutely turned towards success. And the impact. This story is much more an armed interview, where she tells you every moment of her odyssey. Of her adventures.

For some, the story of Raodath Ayinkê-Ola Aminou begins with Optimiam, or more precisely with Rothschild, with decision-resignation that shortens a promising career in finance. And yet, she became this Golden Girl. From those who blaze hackhatons and other innovation contests with formidable pitches and a fierce passion. She brilliantly led her startup which today changed the eating habits of 150,000 people and saved 15 to 20 tons of food.

Ola Aminou is fascinating, in her courage, in her intelligence and this ambition that she never hides. She wants to be the best. All over. And above all, she wants to leave her mark. Help. She wants the world to use her … Raodath Aminou is on an almost visceral quest for utility and freedom. She wants to be useful to the world. She is an adventurer, who has the taste for incessant conquests. From one rock to another, she seems to climb a virtual mountain on the top of which is her star. Since the day this seller of Sushi accosted her, she ain’t stopping anymore. Always further, always higher … The sky is not her limit.


As a child, what was your dream job?

Doctor! I wanted to save lives. I always wanted to do great things and I thought that doctor or midwife, all the people who save lives or give life, are the one with the most beautiful jobs in the world in fact.

Tell us about your story in a few words

It’s the course of someone who always seeks to do better, on all strands. i’ve always love studies. It reflected on my marks. I had my french Baccalaureate at Montaigne secondary school with an excellence scholarship, which allowed me to pursue my studies in France. With this scholarship i had to do preparatory classes for the great schools. I did a school of engineers called ISEP, in management and information systems.

At the professional level, I have always been motivated by this taste for excellence. I had the opportunity to start directly in finance, at Rothschild Asset Management, which is a very good stamp, a very good name in finance. On permanent contract for two years, and before that, I had an internship with them. Later, I did another engineering school, Polytechnique, the best engineering school in France. It is a path on which where I have always wanted to go further, aim further and do more. Will i get there? I do not know, but I thought at least I wanted to aim and then we’ll see what happens.

When you’ve always been a model student, winner of various contests, you are expected to be successful. How do you apprehend that?

It’s Freddy who told me something. Freddy is a friend from Montaigne and who is getting married soon; so shout out to Freddy. He put words on something i think everybody thinks. It goes back to three years, at Optimiam’s debuts anyway. He said to me :

  • When i see you with optimiam, when i see all the people of our promotion of Montaigne, i knew it was you who was going to do that in fact.

He wasn’t surprised that i was the one in our generation who got there and who started her business. It really reflects the image people have in the sense that..

  • We know you can do that, we know you have the ability to do that so we are not surprised that it’s you who did it and not someone else.

So yes, i think the image people have is a double-edged image. On one hand, it can give you the adrenaline, to push to always do more, always better, but on the other hand it is a lot of pressure, not to disappoint, not to break that image. It puts pressure but i would say it is a positive pressure because it pushes to always do better. As for me, it really pushes me to do better.

So for you it is not a weight, it pushes you to …

It can be a weight. To be honest, sometimes it’s a weight because when you happen to not be fine, you cannot talk to everyone. You don’t know who you can talk to. You can’t tell them that you are not okay.

  • What do you mean, you are not okay? Yet, I saw you win a contest yesterday

That’s what people told me again when I announced that i was leaving of Optimiam.

  • Only two days ago you won the Elle Active Contest, how can you say you are leaving Optimiam ?

People can’t understand everything and it can be a weight.

Has Optimiam been your biggest project so far?

Oh yes, totally, and in every way. Professionally, it took me 3 years. I had the idea in december 2013. We really launched in march 2014. That’s when i met my business partner. So it’s been 3 years. It is really 3 true years in terms of hours. Every hour counted during these three years in Optimiam, be it professionally or in regard to the project, to the human adventure. It consumed all my energy, all my energy was dedicated to that, with the pros and cons that go with it.

What do mean by that ?

The pros which come along, it’s … when you give yourself a hundred percent to something, it inevitably pays, it ends up paying. We’ve had a real recognition, a good welcome from clients, consumers. We have launched really well. The cons that go with it, it may have an impact on my life by the way. I see my friends less, my personal life may suffer from it at times.

But is it worth it ? Do you sometimes think you should have done less for Optimiam and more for your personal life ?

I think it really depended of the time I was in my life. I started Optimiam when i was 23-24 years old. I had to make sacrifices but it was no unbearable sacrifices. Today, I’m 27 years old. I would not make the same choices or mistakes, I would say. On the other hand, I would be as much dedicated, with passion, in terms of what it takes for my new project. But there are sacrifices i would not make again.

Quitting Rothschild, was it not an act of defiance ?

No. It was a call, It was a cry actually. I could not stay there anymore. If you read my articles, my various interviews, I was no longer really fine there. Because … depressed is a bit too strong word but it’s that feeling you can do more and you feel under exploited.

Did you feel the need to prove something or was it a vital choice?

It was a vital choice. It was truly a vital choice. I did not even left Rothschild to create Optimiam because I did not have the idea of Optimiam back then. Even without the idea, i left Rothschild. I needed to get out of there.

People say time is money. In fact, for me, it’s not even time is money. Time is really a very precious resource and i felt like my time wasn’t well used. I had to find where my time was more useful.

And it’s also a bit for the same reasons that I chose to leave Optimiam. I did 3 years in Optimiam, we start to know how it works. Where i’m going now, they need me there today more than Optimiam.

According to your own words, you were depressing and perishing in this work

Perishing, yes. Depressed, it’s been four years since I left Rothschild. After, I took the notion of that word and i was not depressing yet. Because you can rub depression when you are an entrepreneur. Because it’s really, very, very, very hard.

Because you can rub depression when you are an entrepreneur Click To Tweet

Was it your case?

Yes. I had real ups and real downs. You work 24 hours a day. It’s not a nervous breakdown at all, but it’s just that at some point you shut yourself up, you do not see anyone, you don’t have any time to see people. You only chain, chain, chain. You have to pay wages, you have all the stress that goes with it. You have to check if there is money on the account at the end of the month to pay people. It is full of things that one do not have any notions of before creating his business. Even less between the ages of 23 and 27, it is not at all the subjects that one deals with.

You wanted to innovate your life

Totally. For me there had to be a change in my life at that time. A permanent contract at 21 years old. At 23 years old, I had been on a permanent contract for two years. I could not accept to be there in my life.

For me, I was a pawn. I think there are a lot of people who work in finance, who work in big companies, who will find themselves in what I say. One feels like a pawn. If I don’t do my job well, even if I do it well, if the customer is not content, he replaces me with another. At a time when you go on in your career you need to be more useful. It is really the word utility that returns in all my choices. So I had to leave.

Optimiam was born in the gallery of a hypermarket

Yes, from my hypermarket, my Carrefour. It was an evening like any other. I was hungry. I went shopping and I came across this sushi seller with his promotion that changed my life. It changed my life at that time.

The dinner with Halima for the Master, the speech of Vincent Redrado of TheTops, everything really set up to help you make your decision.

Halima and I did the same engineering school, the ISEP, which is a very good school. Halima told me about her sister Fatima who joined Polytechnique for a Master. I looked up a little. At the time, I did not even know. I did not even think that Polytechnique offered Masters outside the great schools contest. I checked and saw that it was one of the 1st Masters Innovation and Entrepreneurship in France. I did the Master of Innovation and Digital Economy with an entrepreneurial option. I applied without conviction, I think it was in April. I was on holidays with my friend Mame in Majorca, sleeping on the beach when I received an e-mail. Mame will remember.

  • I am pre-selected for the master’s degree at the Polytechnique the next week !!

They wanted to do a skype. Suddenly, it changed the situation of the holidays. We were too happy when we saw that. I couldn’t believe it. I did the skype. I explained to them my project which was to create my business.

  • And if you do not create your business what are you going to do next ?
  • Well, at worst I will return in company with a master in innovation

As soon as I had the master I resigned from Rothschild. I did my 3 months notice and left.

Before that, at the end of May there was the entrepreneur’s fair and it’s there I attended an intervention of Vincent Redrado who is the founder of TheTops. Vincent was the same age as me, the same academic background; In the sense that he did a business school – HEC, he did his internship at Priceminister, he knows very well Pierre Kosciusko Moriset who is also an investor and who was even in his board. His internship at Priceminister went very well. Pierre offered him a permanent contract and he declined this Priceminister’s contract, saying: no I will create my business. He created an e-commerce site, The Tops, drawing a little bit of what Priceminister was doing. And this young man was there, He said to the whole room

  • What risk do you take today trying to accomplish yourself and trying to create your business? Especially you young graduates of great schools.

What risk do you take ? At worst, if it does not work you will return to your contract in the ministry of Defense. We take no risks, especially we young graduates. We have to get back to reality. When people say yes, you have taken the risk of resigning, the risk of creating your business… yes but we have super diplomas, if it does not work well we will quickly get back on our feet therefore the risk is very measured. We just take the risk of being happy. That’s the only risk we’re taking. There is no risk apart from that. In the end, when we weigh things well, I just made the choice to be happy, I took no risk for me.

Vincent Redrado was my emotional trigger. It was thanks to him that I knew that entrepreneurship was my way and the seller of Sushi was my intellectual trigger to know what project I wanted to launch.

We just take the risk of being happy. Click To Tweet

Your parents were merchants. When you decided to leave your job to launch something, did they want you to come back and create your business in Benin?

No it’s the opposite, they didn’t support me. Already for my parents, quitting my permanent contract was unthinkable.

We Africans, when were are sent to study, when we work, we have to take care of oneself and eventually also take care of siblings and parents. There, two years after my financial independence, i announce to them that finally it is not going well and I’m going back to school. That i resigned in the first place, they did not understand .When i explained that it was Polytechnique, the best engineers’ school in France, they were a little reassured. I never told them about the entrepreneurship project. It was mainly Polytechnique, i wanted to study at Polytechnique. They told themselves :

  • She will have a better diploma. She will find something.

The idea of Optimiam came after that. They said :

  • Why are you doing that? When will you earn money? It’s still too risky.

Yet, they are traders and entrepreneurs themselves. They did not want to understand because as for them, i had a good background. Why would i want to break it now with entrepreneurship?

It was in 2013. It was the beginning of sexy entrepreneurship in France. It didn’t ring a bell to them at all. Entrepreneurship was not as popular as it is now. They did not understand.

Did it take time?

It took a while. It’s when we started to get recognition, winning contests, winning awards, meeting presidents.

  • Still, people are interested in his project ?! Maybe it’s valuable after all

The fundraising from the investors, even for entrepreneurs like them, it’s a step they have never taken. As entrepreneurs, they borrow money from banks. Here, to make them understand that you were able to persuade people to freely give you their money, and if it does not work they lose the money, and if it works we share. It is not the bank. It was a level above. They thought :

  • If she can do that, it means the project makes sense, that people believe in it, we also now believe with them.

Has it changed anything that your parents adhered to your project ?

Yes. A lot. They understood the hardship lot more, they understood the ups and downs more. When I told my parents that I wanted to leave Optimiam they did not understand.

  • You’re making a big mistake, why are you doing this? With all the time you’ve given to this project ?

They did not understand. It is to tell you the attachment that they ended up having for this entrepreneur adventure. My financial lifestyle now and 3 years ago are  nothing alike.

My salary is 2 times or even 3 times less than back ther in finance. They ended up adhering to this entrepreneurial lifestyle because they truly saw all the advantages that went with it.

It’s not only the salary, it is not only : “is it profitable today ? “. It is the whole route that came along. All the contests, all the people I have met, all the opportunities that it’s offered me. They say :

  • Aren’t you going to miss all that?
  • We’ll see with the new project.

Why did you choose food waste as a problem to solve ?

I did not choose food waste as a problem, it was the waste that chose me. People tell me :

  • Did you use to be careful about waste before Optimiam?
  • Like everyone.

I think I used to pay attention on my scale, like everyone else. I will not hide that sometimes I buy products that I do not have time to eat and that I toss. With Optimiam, today I make a lot more effort.

I didn’t choose waste in the sense that while I was resigning from Rothschild to start my own business, I did not have the idea then. I wanted to do something and i hit on that master via the dinner with Halima and in this master they told us we had two choices : start you business or join a company.

I want to create my business“. Before resigning from Rothschild, I went back on the job market. I had started to look at companies, it was always the same pawn positions. I said to myself, “I can not find the job that suits me. I do not know yet what is the job that corresponds to me but I will create my own job “.

That’s where the idea to create my business came from. Brainstorming to find the idea. There was a lot of ideas at Polytechnique. As good geeks, we proposed social network ideas but there was no spark because from all I saw in courses as well as in large american companies’ use cases, the entrepreneur way is difficult.

At Optimiam for example, it took us 2 years to pay ourselves. So I had no salary for two years.

  • If I was to struggle this much for two years, i would rather defend an idea greater than myself so that i can hang on to it.

All the other ideas I found in brainstorming, they were not bigger than my person, they were not revolutionary, they were not as strong as Optimiam can be. And it was through this meeting with this seller of Sushi whose story can be found on the Internet.

  • Here were are dealing with a social, economic, societal and environmental scourge, it is greater than me. If I can solve this problem, it will bring a lot of good.

It really is a social utility project and that was the trigger. It could have been something else as long as it was bigger than me.

Have you ever seen the sushi seller again?

No, I never saw him again but I wrote to the company. And the company told me that it was not true, that they don’t make promotions, that it is not in the company policy.

  • Well, if it was not true, I would have never had the idea of my business today.

Ola Aminou, You have a beautiful story. And sometimes it seems too beautiful and it is hard to believe it. How could all this happen ?

My good star, God, because I believe a lot in God, work, good choices. I made the right choices. Everybody can make the right choices but once you make the right choices you have to keep it up to get to the end and I think that’s where you lose people.

You can lose people on that road, people who are not strong enough to get to the end and others people who do not make the right choices, who are self-satisfied with what they have; which is fine but that’s not my case.

Everybody can make the right choices. Click To Tweet

How to make the right choices ?

By taking example from people. I’ve always had people. There is not a specific person that I admire. I admire many people for different reasons but I do not have a precise role model. It is by looking around, finding different inspiring people, you look at their journey and you say why not me?

There is no one who intimidates me. There is no one who I see and I say to myself … “The record is WOW” . I never think I can not have the same record. For me, they are not specially gifted, these people. If they can do it, it means it can be done. Maybe I have to give twice as much work as that person, but it’s possible.

Often in your interviews you say that you wanted to be useful, to do something that have sense. Why this desire ?

Because I judge that God put us on this earth, not just to think about ourselves. It’s normal to think primarily about oneself but i don’t see how i can accomplish myself only by caring about me. It’s important for me to accomplish myself.

Becoming a millionaire is not my entrepreneurship goal, if I do my job well, I can become but it is not what guides me. I’m the kind of person who is satisfied by satisfying others people. I’m healthy, i am financially able, what else do i need?

How can I be more useful? And it’s Oprah Winfrey who said something that opened my eyes. In everything she does, she says “God use me”. She wants god to use her for a good purpose. She wants God to use her at her full potential. And that’s what i’m seeking today. To be exploited to my full potential because i would find it a pity to have been a tourist on this earth.

How does one do when they resigned from a well paid job for a student job, went back to school and started their business ?

We have no choice. When you don’t get to choose, you just have to do it. When you have bills to pay, a rent to pay, you have to do it. When you know the goal behind very well, when you know why you are doing it, you hang on.

It’s good to complain, it’s good to say it’s hard … The number of persons who said to me :

  • I had the same idea, but…
  • Yes, but why you did not do it ?
  • Well, because this happened, that happened

At some point, when you know the purpose, why you are doing it, you just shut up and do it. No matter how difficult it is, you shut up and do it, it’s as simple as that.

No matter how hard it is, you shut up and do it, it’s as simple as that. Click To Tweet

Before Optimiam, there was EcoCourses

EcoCourses was actually Optimiam. It was a kind of Optimiam but the project has evolved a lot. I saw that sushis seller. I saw the waste problem. EcoCourses was trying to retrieve all the unsold products from supermarkets, put them in a food truck and sell them on large places.

Except that quickly by digging the project, I realized that a food truck is not so easy to have, that there are standards of hygiene and security to fill, that having parking places on those large places, is not as obvious …

How did  the switch happened ?

By seeing all the problems I was facing with EcoCourses and seeing especially my profile of engineer ! What bothered me in the idea of ​​EcoCourse was that i wasn’t using none of my engineer skills.

It’s just a truck with food that you carry and you “park”. If I were to tell my parents that I had to do EcoCourses, frankly it would have been very difficult for them to support. At one point, I said to myself:

  • The problem is understood, there is waste to be solved.
  •  Is there no other way apart from taking a FoodTruck ?
  • You’re an engineer! You have an engineering degree! You studied digital !

… and it just hit me. Create the digital bridge and remove the brakes: food truck, parking, hygiene standards. Optimiam is just a digital link : people pay online and pick up their products. It was fast. The switch was done quickly in a month.

What did the Optimiam adventure teach you ?

For me, overall, the Optimiam adventure is really about the human. The Human has been my strength and weakness in this whole project. Strength in the sense: all the love, the positive reception Optimiam had. The human … the team that joined me for that, the customers who trusted us. Weakness : there were bad recruitments, bad customers, bad users, bad traders.

The human has been and is the strength and weakness of Optimiam. In any entrepreneurial adventure, the human is, for me, the first criterion.

In any entrepreneurial adventure, the human is, for me, the first criterion. Click To Tweet

Lessons ?

I knew it was hard but no so much. I had underestimated the difficulty, the stamina it requires, the perseverance it takes, the resilience it takes, I had underestimated all that.

The adventure of Optimiam allowed me to acquire these qualities. After that, there are aptitudes like pitch. I knew I was very good at speaking. I knew I was very good at convincing people. It’s fun in the end when you go on stage to represent your brand.

I made a lot of mistakes, which is normal, which i won’t do in my next projects. Really technical mistakes. Typically, the online payment integration came too lately. It’s really technical mistakes.

Recruitments errors, of course there may have been some, management errors. My management was not good at times. I will manage better.

The enterprise culture i would have liked to know better, i did not have enough time. I only spent two years in company and it was not even a startup. I did not know what culture to infuse. But now i have the notion that the enterprise culture can be decisive in a startup success of failure.

And how does one run a start-up like Optimiam, between hackathons, team, product development, media exposure ?

Recruitment is very important. Among things I’ll do better next time, it’s really making sure I hire  people more skilled than me in the work for which I hired them. They have to be better than me so that I can trust them, so that I can tell myself …

  • Even though I’m not 100% focused on the different strands of my business, that person is better than me so I can really lean on him.

Can the Optimiam model be replicated in Africa ?

I would say no in the current state because in Africa the amount of wasted manufactured products is not huge. At Optimiam we work with the manufactured products. We are rather downstream of the production. In  Africa, from my research, the greatest lost in terms of waste occur in the fields and in the crops. So it’s upstream the production. Building an application that will allow people to sell before production will be complicated. Rather, it is an application or system that will help farmers to better work their crops, provide weather information, information on the price of merchandises on markets, by providing information on how to better grow their crops, that can be useful.

Surprisingly, I saw that there was an application like Optimiam that started in Nigeria and works exclusively with supermarkets, which allows supermarkets to sell their food surpluses. But then what is the potential market behind? It’s a good idea, but what is the volume behind ?

How does one win the Pitch war ?

I give pitch training ; you can improve by training but first you have to be passionate about this project. I think that every good entrepreneur is necessarily passionate about his project, for sure. But there is this little taste of humour, each time I’m on stage, I don’t even stress anymore now.

I tell myself that people in front of me must see how much I love my project, how much I enjoy doing my project, and how much they can help, how much they contribute, not just coming to tell my life. They have to be included in the project, and it’s this vision that I really try to realize through every pitch I make. Find the right words to make them smile, find the right words for them to feel valued in the project.

I loved the pitch, from start to end. My last pitch was in March. It was Elle’s environmental innovation award. It was Elle Paris who gave me the prize. We won 5000 euros. I was not communicating about it yet but I knew it was my last. I wanted to win and I won. That’s was the day I took the Irawo snapchat account.

How to convince investors to fund your start-up ?

More than the numbers and the metrics of what you have been doing, what matters to the investors is the team. They want to be sure that the people in front of them are the right ones to drive the project.

At this stage, the idea isn’t important yet. Because the idea can quickly change but are these people the right ones to lead the project? I spoke to one of my funders last time, when we was signing the deal and he said it.

  • The reason why i gave you money, it’s because i saw your passion and your enthusiasm for the  project, your motivation at 23/24 years old. I said to myself this young woman and her team are so passionate that they will make it and i want to take part in that success.

And it’s a bit the message i send to those who want to raise money. For a first funding anyway. For a second fund raising, you have to show results. For a first fundraising, don’t think about money at any cost. Especially the types of entrepreneurs who just had their idea and want to raise funds right after.

You don’t need investors to run your business at the beginning. We ran Optimiam for a year with no fundraising. We found others ways to get money. There are contests and others, we had no need to look for investors.

When you go and see an investor, he can feels it if you are desperate. He feels that you just need his money. Us, the message we sent is :

  • Without you, we were able to hold on for a year. We could still hold on for a year or two through the contests, but by doing that, it will slow us down because it takes a lot of my time. So we need you to take it to the next stage and break through even faster.

… and that’s the message they want to hear. They tell themselves :

  • We have the money, we have no time, we don’t have the skills, we cannot do that today. They have the time, they have the skills, they are young, they are motivated, I want to live the dream with them.

We could see a little pride in our investors when we were on TV. They would send the articles to their friends. They would say “I invested in this business”. That, that matters to them. Telling them “we are going to live this dream together, we are going to travel together” matters more than money. You have to get them involved.

What’s the impact of Optimiam after 3 years of work ?

Today we measure it in terms of saved meals. We are between 1 to 20 tons of meals saved from the trash. It’s about 15 000 users who have the application in France. It’s more than 700 merchants we have worked with: small traders, supermarket chains, fast food chains, etc

That’s all the impact we’ve had. I’m always amazed when i see the recruitments. Today we are not even broadcasting our recruitment offers. We have a lot of spontaneous applications: Students from major schools ESSEC, HEC, who want to do internships in a start-up and who find our start-up cool, who really want to join us. That’s all we succeeded to build. So you think, yes, it really changes from my job in finance. It’s day and night !

Why did you leave Optimiam then ?

First of all, to be honest, because i feel that i’ll be more useful elsewhere. It’s not that i was no longer useful to Optimiam. Today, i don’t even need to convince anyone about it. Just before the very day i announced that i was leaving, i was in Switzerland representing Optimiam. It is just that need which made me leave Rothschild to create Optimiam three years ago.. I feel that today, i’m called on projects that are even bigger than me and bigger than Optimiam.

The even bigger impact, the even greater legacy, that’s all I’m seeking.

What do you want to do now that you’ve left Optimiam ?

As a professional? impact, always impact. In any case, i’m staying in digital, that’s for sure. Impact, innovate. I assume that if there are problems, we can’t not to solve. Not everyone can solve them and if judge that i can bring my stone to the building, i don’t find it normal not to do so. More personally i would like to save more time for myself, my family, my friends, my relationships.

Does your journey tell us that the key to fulfillment is in entrepreneurship ? Is that really the key ?

No, the key to fulfillment is not at all in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship, for me it was the answer to a dissatisfaction and to the fact that I did not find my place in society.

If you are also feeling like your are not fitting in the society we are in, then entrepreneurship may be for you. But not by fashion effect, not because thingy did it or because i too have the skills so i want to do it.

You really need to feel the need to do it. Has it been the key to fulfillment for me? Yes, absolutely. It gave me an all out liberty. I would exactly decide the schedules of my days. I was independant. From every point of view. It allowed me to blossom.

How did you feel while planting the flag of Benin on Kilimanjaro ?

Ah, I was proud. Especially that I did not know if there were Beninese who had done it before me. I was really proud to get to the end. Frankly, I have so much ambition for my country, I am so optimistic for my country. Yet I do not know if i’m making myself too much illusions or not. But there … we have neighbours who have done great things, why not us ?

We are not less gifted or less capable than the others. At one point, we just need to wake up. We, it’s the youth, we who have the skills, we who can bring something to the country. We just have to wake up and try to do our part.

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Do you think of returning to Benin, carrying out projects?

Yes. In the last years, I have come back  every year to Benin and yes I see the evolution. Frankly. I see the evolution of Benin. I always see it with my sight on digital. There are plenty of things on which a lot of improvements are required, but I can not fight all the battles. I am not the messiah. I do not want to save Benin or save the world. I just want my skills to serve and my skills are digital and innovation. So that’s where I want it to serve.

And I’ve seen a lot of evolution with entrepreneurs launching super projects, with all the good that digital can make in Benin. So yes, I would like not to miss out and do something there and join those who took the risk to return or even those who have stayed since the start and who are starting businesses in Benin.

I would like to come back definitely but I have to see how. I still spent 11 years in France, with my French habits, I have to see how I can adapt to all this. And how my ideas …

I created my business in France, it was not easy. It’s had the success described. Creating a business in Benin, what does it imply? With Optimiam, it went so fast! Can it go so fast in Benin? Will I not be braked? Won’t my ambitions be slowed down?

See … There are all these matters that I do not master and that I must take the time to understand.

You look like someone who works much, what do you do to relax or change your ideas

No, I work a lot. Frankly. I have no trouble working beyond schedules … or getting up early. When you like what you do, you work. So there is no trouble.

What do i do to relax ? TV shows, i watch a lot of tv shows! And it counts as working for me (laughs). I used to read but now, i do it a little less. Uh, cycling. I love cycling. Sewing, i got into there. With my last months of Optimiam which were a bit complicated, i stopped. But yeah, i’ll get back to sewing.

What would you say to someone, who don’t necessarily have your background, to incite them to dare ?

When i talk about to dare in general, i talk about to dare entrepreneurship. Today i believe i’m the type of entrepreneur who creates to find a solution to a problem and

What would you say to someone who does not necessarily have the same path as you to make him dare?

In general, when I speak of daring, I speak of daring to undertake. Today I believe that I am the type of entrepreneur who creates to bring a solution to a problem and especially who creates because he has no choice.

When I left Rothschild, it was because I had no choice. It was vital for me to leave there, it was vital for me to do something else. No matter what your background is, when you are in this time when you have no choice, you have to get out of there. I do not see how it is possible, when you are really at the bottom of yourself, how you can stay in this area. And as for me, daring is the way out of this area.

So you can very well be in the hot suburbs as they like to say, you may have not done any school, for me you can do what you want.

With digital it’s so much easier today. You can do  up to one year of training to be a Community Manager, or to be responsible for marketing. That said, we are in France where the diploma is important so that’s it … we have to go back to our realities but if you want to create your business, the diploma is no longer relevant at this stage.

What if you were to talk to someone who is not necessarily in France ?

Frankly, live your life. It would be a shame if you woke up at 50, 60 years old realising that you have missed your life.

Nevertheless we each have our goals. There are people for whom towning the Rolex under 40 years is the goal. If this is your goal, entrepreneurship is not for you. Stay safe, in the permanent contract, there you will really reach the goal.

Frankly I do not criticize. There are people for whom it is important. For me it is: make the choices and make the decisions that it takes to achieve your goal. If that’s your goal, do everything to reach it. If it makes you happy, who cares what others think. If that’s what makes you happy, do everything to reach it.

That’s the work we all have to do on us. To settle down at some point. It is often when you arrive in your thirties, around 27/30 years that you ask yourself:

  • Am I in the right place? Am i using my skills properly? Am i not needed anywhere else ?

This is where we have to stop and ask ourselves “what is the goal I want to reach?” And make all the decisions that are necessary to achieve it.

No matter what people may think. That’s what I would say to people. Do not miss out on your life.

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