Hugues Lokossa(Benin)

COVID19 has become the bedrock for social entrepreneurship in Benin.

I had already made my decision to leave my former employer because I wanted a new challenge that would put me on the frontline of the difficulties my country faces, but I did not know that I was going to experience uncertainty in this dimension. I left a long-term contract for a 6-month consultation. I was going to become a consultant in the health sector for the first time in my career. My collegues thought it was reckless, a risk to leave a comfortable position when there is no guarantee what’s so ever to get another job after 6 months. But for me it was a matter of getting up every morning knowing that I was going to work to make a difference in the life of the Beninese. I felt I had a responsibility and, beyond that, an opportunity.

The trigger came after President Barack OBAMA’s speech during his visit to Accra, Ghana, in which he said, among other things, that Africa had enough strongmen and now needs strong institutions. And while I was thinking more concretely about how to implement this, COVID19 began to wreak havoc, sow terror and challenge all ecosystems. It took only a few weeks for the future to become uncertain even for people like me whose future seemed still guaranteed. This pandemic put each country before its responsibilities and gave more weight to the charter of social entrepreneurship that I had drafted and set out to adopt.

Indeed, In this first consultancy, I work for the platform of all private sector actors working in the health sector in Benin. My official mandate is to develop activities that will allow this platform to generate resources and gradually increase its overall self-financing capacity and this suited me perfectly because it goes in line with my aspirations. My personal mandate is to build the kind of structures that would live longer than their founders and I still think that this is really the kind of initiative that my country needs.

Unlike traditional businesses, social entrepreneurship focuses on maximizing gains in social satisfaction, rather than maximizing profit gains. Today, in the face of COVID-19, developing countries must adopt social entrepreneurship, the only way that combines profit and social development together as one and the same entity to foster growth. In the health sector for example, there is opportunity for the private sector to get together and manufacture or produce goods and services they traditionally buy overseas, thus creating more resources for their growth and to face pandemics like COVID19 through their association.

I know today even more than yesterday that the purpose of my existence is to make social entrepreneurship the engine for the development of my country and I thank COVID-19 for this boost. Nevertheless, without the barrier gestures all this will be futile. So, do me a favor and to stay alive to be living witnesses to the result. Yes, I am talking to you.

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