"Giving is great. But what really gives meaning to life is work," says Isabelle Mashola . After volunteering for NGOs in Burkina Faso and Cameroon, the young woman co-founded Isahit with her partner Philippe Coup-Jambet. This platform puts self-employed women in Africa in touch with companies, mostly French, which subcontract IT tasks. " Digital technology is a real lever for autonomy and independence for young women on the continent," says Isabelle Mashola.
Founded in 2016, Isahit is based in Paris, where it employs 16 people. In Africa, it contracts with more than 1,100 "heirs" (nickname of self-employed women), spread over 21 African countries. Deployed mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, the start-up currently has no offices on the continent. It is developing by forging partnerships on the spot with associations, incubators and co-working spaces.
When the number of "collaborators" becomes large, Isahit also uses the services of intermediaries called "hubers". "It's easier for us to have someone on site to follow up, but also to help young women with their administrative procedures," says Isabelle Mashola . Because, according to her, in some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo for example, it can be complicated to obtain the equivalent of the status of auto-entrepreneur, or even up-to-date identity documents.
But the presence of these intermediaries is not always enough to ensure sustainable development. "Each country has its own culture and more or less developed infrastructures, there are some where things are moving faster, as in Madagascar, where the population is used to working in the service sector. It is more complicated in Burkina Faso, for example. "The cause, according to the leader: a poor Internet connection, a real obstacle in West African countries.
Isabelle Mashola, CEO and co-founder of isahit
Another problem encountered byIsabelle Mashola is that many self-employed women are not banked - only 20% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is, according to the World Bank. It was necessary to adapt to the realities of the field. To pay its "hiteuses" in Guinea, Mali, Madagascar and Côte d'Ivoire, Isahit is working with W-HA, the mobile payment subsidiary of the Orange group. By paying by phone, the start-up has even reduced its bank charges.
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