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THE CAMEROON DIASPORA OUTREACH PROGRAM

A call to the Cameroonian Government to reach out

 

The “ Diaspora Outreach Program” will seek to establish a framework by which our Government can engage with the “ Diasporans” and leverage on the vast reservoir of ingenuity, knowledge, skills and experience to bring back home to contribute to the development of our country.

It is absolutely crucial that the Cameroonian Government leverages on the enormous talent of its Diaspora around the world. Diaspora which is full of knowledge, skills, exuberance, and is just waiting for the opportunity to unleash its entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity, its knowledge and technology back home to help our country and our people. The political disagreements between our Government and the Diaspora should not preclude our Government from reaching out to its people at the Diaspora.

 

 

If we are in Democracy, then our Government must understand that constructive criticism, --which is guaranteed by our constitution through Freedom of speech-- is necessary for the evolution of the human spirit and the advancement of human affairs on earth. It is only when we criticize our Government --and speak truth to power-- that we raise awareness and consciousness to the wrongs and the deficiencies of society. It is only through constructive criticism that we as a people, can shape our common destiny to our liking and express our common convictions and ethos as a people.

 

So, despite any political disagreements that may exist, the Cameroonian Government still has the moral obligation and the solemn responsibility to reach out to its Diaspora through a constructive dialogue and incentives. We must still to be able to work with our Government in the areas where we can advance the best interests of the country, irrespective of our political inclinations, our tribal or lingual origins.

 

 

A Government of the people and for the people must reach out, and seek to represent all of its people, and not just some of its people. 

The Cameroonian Government must create new Business-centric methodologies and archetypes for an environment in which small businesses can thrive and grow. For wealth creation to occur in the country, the Government must shift from a public service oriented mindset to a Business-centric mindset.

 

And there concrete steps that the Government of Cameroon can take right now to get the Diaspora to be a full participant stakeholder of the future of our country. Through the Cameroonian embassies around the world –notably in Europe and  the US--, the Cameroonian Government can begin a program of outreach, by asking that all Cameroonians who have ideas to take back home come forward with these ideas.

The Embassies could begin a massive Program called “The Diaspora Outreach Program”. The program can request that groups of Cameroonians in the Diaspora do the following:

 

1-    Write a Business Plan

In writing a business plan, the candidates must describe their vision, their goals and their objectives. The plan must describe their area of knowledge and experience. It must clearly outline the steps necessary to setup a business in their area of interest and expertise in Cameroon. The draft of the plan must include the followings sections:

a-     A Complete Description of the type, nature, scope and activities of the business. This section must define the type of business, its function and a summary of its operational processes and procedures.

b-    A Risk Register of the Business. Every business carries some risks, and this section must demonstrate your capacity to assess, to understand and to deal with these risks. Establish a full risk assessment matrix for the business. The candidates must describe how they intend mitigate and manage these risks and describe the risk mitigation plan and risk management strategies for the business.

c-     A “Statement of Need”. In this section, the candidates must explain the need for such a business in Cameroon. It must demonstrate the utility and the necessity of the services provided by the business. The group must demonstrate how their business can benefit Cameroon and how many people it can employ and its potential for growth and success.

d-     A Cost Estimate. Every business has a cost of establishment or an initial investment. In this section, the candidates must demonstrate their ability to accurately estimate the cost, define the scope, the timelines and the schedules for implementing such a business in Cameroon.

e-     Government Assistance: In this section, the candidates must clearly describe how the Government can help them. What is logistical need of the business?  How would the business be financed? Would they need a loan and if so, how much ? Would they need to ship any equipment and material back home ? Would it be a one-time shipment or on a continual basis ? The candidates must demonstrate their due diligence with respect to their business.

f-      Operations: For any business to succeed, there must be a strict and rigorous emphasis on its day to day operations. So this section should detail how the business will operate on a day-to-day basis. And this means that the candidates must define the policies, the processes and the step-by-step procedures of the business activities. This section should also describe how the finances of the business would be handled and managed, and the mechanisms by which the Business would meet its bottom line, the contingency plans of the business in times of slowdown and unexpected circumstances. –Optionally a backup plan--.

 

 

Once these documents are drafted and submitted to the various Cameroonian Embassies around the world, each Embassy will have, say 60 to 120 days to review it and get back to the applicants.

If the project is approved, the Cameroonian Government should begin to make its assistance available to these patriotic groups of Cameroonians immediately.

The Program should encourage and incentivize Cameroonians to team up in groups of 6 to 10 people –with the competent credentials-- to setup these businesses back home.

The Program will seek to avoid situations in which single individuals are only thinking of setting up their tiny stuff for themselves. The Program will emphasize and incentivize the “Diasporans” to learn to work together in a team and to forge a spirit of collaboration, coordination and cooperation, and to demonstrate their capacity to execute plans that are large enough in scale and magnitude to make a real impact.

Upon acceptance of their plan, these groups of Cameroonians must work together to create a team of stakeholders, private investors, and other parties that can work to get the business off the ground and running. The Embassy can emphasize that plans presented by 6 to 10 people have a substantially higher chance of acceptance than one that is introduced by 1, 2 or 3 individuals.

 

 

Legal Bindings: Every time you bring people to work in group setting, there must be some ground rules or rules of engagement. And in the business world, that means a writ of mutual and consensual agreements. In all business relationships and partnerships, there must be rights, privileges, responsibilities and accountability strings attached. So, the people in these groups must clearly understand and acknowledge that they are entering in a legal business agreement with their peers. So they will be bound by the legal constraints of a contract that has liability clauses that spell out the legal recourse –and consequences-- in the event that an individual fails to abide by the signed legal agreement.

 

The “ Diaspora Outreach Program” will seek to establish a framework by which our Government can engage with the “ Diasporans” and leverage on the vast reservoir of ingenuity, knowledge, skills and experience to bring back home to contribute to the development of our country.

 

2-    What to expect from the Cameroonian Government.

Once the “ Disapora Outreach Program” is up and running, the Cameroonian Government is expected to hold its side of bargaining by guarantying the following:

a-     Allow the selected  Business groups of Cameroonians from the Diaspora to ship containers of equipment, vehicles and material back home for very low or no custom duty through the sea port of Douala. If the business requires container shipments on a continual basis, our Government should negotiate a preferential custom duty rates for these businesses. –at least for a pre-determined period of time--.

b-    Allow a tax holiday period of at least 2 years for these new Diasporic startups. Allowing for at least two years without paying taxes will allow the Diasporic new startup to fully establish and hopefully make a profit and stabilize its bottom lines.

c- The Government should setup a Small Business Administration (or SBA) --if it does not exist--. A small Business Administration will seek to protect these small Businesses against the nonsensical and outdated regulations that hinder small businesses and stifle growth. It will seek to protect small businesses against the unscrupulous and corrupt tax collectors and remove any unnecessary administrative delays.

e- The Government should allow for the creation of a Small Business Association or Union. This association is created and headed by Small Business owners. The object of this association shall be to protect and defend the common interest of small business owners. This association or Union will be the interface representing small businesses across the country.

 

f-    Government Loans and Requirements.

To incentivize the Diaporans to reinvest back home, the Government can make small loans available to these groups of patriots who want to bring their contribution to their country. These loans must have some strict guidelines and requirements attached such as:  

-         The new Business must be registered in Cameroon and have a tax ID issued to its name, and a business bank account linked to this tax ID.

-         The loan can only be disbursed to the Business’ account, and in small installments as needed --by the business-- after tangible verification that the business is effectively being established. In no circumstance can the loan be given in cash to any individual. All withdrawals from the business account must strictly be for business use only. You can’t use money from the business loan to buy a land, build a house, buy a personal car or any personal use. Any violation will automatically nullify and cancel the loan, and the violator will be required to pay back any balance in its entirety.

-         The new Business must maintain some kind of electronic record keeping for all its financial transactions. This will allow for accurate declaration of revenues, expenses and taxation. – equipment like a cash register or a computer can perform these functions, as well as the use of checks and credit cards for business transactions whenever possible —

-         All employees of the Business must have a bank account, and all employees' wages and expenses must be paid through direct deposits to their bank accounts. This requirement has the capacity to encourage other businesses to adopt the direct deposit requirement, and slowly transition our chaotic informal private sector to a more organized structure.

-         The Government loans should not require membership of the CPDM or any political party. It should not require any tribal or lingual origin criterion. If Regional quota is adopted, there must be a clear and understandable formula by which it is applied.

 

-         These loans should be available to people born in Cameroon whether or not they still hold the Cameroonian citizenship and should not require permanent residency in Cameroon. It should however require frequent visits back home, say 2 to 3 visits per year. The loan program could be extended to people from Cameroonian parents born outside of Cameroon.

 

People, this is just a synopsis of how our Government can create a concrete set of incentives to leverage on the enormous talent of the Diaspora, waiting to bring back home the vital knowledge, skills and technology to make our country grow.

A country can only develop when we have the correct political leadership, the correct vision for the country, the correct agreements in place, the correct relationships and partnerships between small businesses and the Government, the correct policies on taxation and tarrif, and the correct people who are willing to roll their sleeves and go to work.

 

 

The Government must establish an environment that incentivizes and encourages small businesses. It must be a catalyst that creates a business friendly atmosphere that is conducive for growth and positive citizen’s sentiment, all of which are catalysts to the pursuit of happiness of the people. In order words, we need a Business-centric Government.

But it begins with the right political leadership and a clear vision for the country. The leaders must create Business-centric methodologies, archetypes and constructs for an environment in which small businesses can thrive and grow.

That is how China, Vietnam, Singapore, the Emirates –and other countries in South East Asia-- were able to develop so rapidly in the last two or three decades. The sub-Saharan African countries can do it too.

 

People, always keep in mind that the fundamentally flawed FCFA currency is still the profound culprit to our economy and our politics. It is the FCFA currency that facilitates colonial exploitation through the French --and so called National-- companies operating in our country.

These French companies, by virtue of the FCFA are allowed to repatriate all of their profits  --tax free-- back to France, without having to invest whatsoever in our country. How many times have you heard that BOLORE or TOTAL has awarded a scholarship to our young people in Lycees or Universities, or did something to protect the environment in Cameroon, or build a school or a hospital in a remote village ?

These companies are not required to do a thing to help our country. They are there to exploit our resources, make lots of money and repatriate all of it –tax free-- to France, leaving our people holding the bags of generational poverty. And the FCFA is the perfect catalyst that facilitates that.

 

Colonial exploitation can only survive in a dictatorship and not in a people’s democracy, where there are checks and balances in place to watch over the interests of the people and the country. The FCFA currency –and the exploitation that it promotes— is the reason why France imposes all these dictators in FrancAfrique. Dictatorship is indispensable to protect colonial exploitation. So it is simply impossible to get rid of dictatorship under the FCFA regime.

So people, we must understand that the elements of the tri-axis –FCFA, Colonial Exploitation- Dictatorship-- are inextricably interlinked. One can’t exist without the other two.

 

 

It is only when we get rid of this currency that we will be able to sprout a new generation of entrepreneurial young business men and woman who will create long lasting wealth and prosperity that can sustain the economy of our country. The wealth generated by our people will then sustain our country’s economy and lift our people and our country out of poverty.

The Nigerian, the Ghanian, the South African economies have produced hundreds of billionaires in dollars –including M. Dangote who is now massively investing in Cameroon--. There is not a single billionaire --business man-- in dollars in the whole of FrancAfrique, and the FCFA currency is mainly responsible for that.

 

 

The Cameroonian Government must create new Business-centric methodologies and archetypes for an environment in which small businesses can thrive and grow. For wealth creation to occur in the country, the Government must shift from a public service oriented mindset to a Business-centric mindset.” –ANST Fraternity Order--

 

We must understand that the –FCFA, Colonial Exploitation- Dictatorship-- are inextricably interlinked. One can’t exist without other two. “ –ANST Fraternity order—

 

Always keep in mind that the fundamentally flawed FCFA currency is still the profound culprit to our economy and our politics.” It is the cancer that we must remove to free our country from the stronghold of France imperialism. –ANST Fraternity order—

 

 

 

 

 

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