Adedognin Abimbola
Date: 18/01/2017


Born in Benin in the late 1960s, Adedognin Abimbola moved to France with his sisters and brothers to study. Graduated from Toulouse Business School, he began his career in the group Decathlon. Willing to bring his own contribution to Africa’s development, Adedognin returns to Benin in 1996, where he launched several entrepreneurial projects.

Adedognin now wishes to share his extensive experience to African entrepreneurs, in particular those from the diaspora, in order to prepare them to address more serenely some of the obstacles and questions they might face.


3 Questions to Adedognin Abimbola:


Why did you decide to come back to Benin, after all these years spent in France?

I decided to return to Benin in 1996… against the advice of many of my relatives! It was a way to give something back to my parents, who did everything they could to ensure that my brothers, sisters and I had a good education.

But I also felt I had a mission towards the African continent, and particularly Benin. The future of the continent did not look bright at that time, and I felt it was the duty of the members of the diaspora to return to their countries to bring their academic knowledge and professional expertise.


One of the key messages you want to convey is that it is not always easy to reintegrate your own country. What was your own experience?

Of all these years I learned that you never belong equally to two cultures at the same time. Returning to Benin, I arrived in a country I thought I knew well, but it soon became clear that I was almost ignorant of all the codes and rules in force, including in the business world. Back in Cotonou after fifteen years spent in France, I was obviously more French than Beninese. I was a foreigner in my own country, without being aware of it, and yet completely confident about the relevance of my project.

Had I been more humble when I returned, I would have been more alert to learn about the country, more curious to discover and understand a new environment. Observe scrupulously, speak little, question wisely, and know how to listen... Is not that what is required of a good entrepreneur?


What motivates you today to speak publicly and share your experience?

Although I experienced undeniable successes in my career, I also did serious mistakes that led me to fail in some of my enterprises – and that could have been avoided. Even if I believe an economic failure is not that of a lifetime and rather offers an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about yourself, it is not necessary to add on your way the difficulties that could be spared.

Since I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to be useful to the people in Africa and in Benin, I felt it was necessary to give my professional life as a testimony to accompany the entrepreneurial impulse that we now observe on the continent. It will be my contribution to an ever more dynamic African entrepreneurship!


programme: IPDEV1