In Senegal, being an entrepreneur can be a challenging experience. You need to deal with government regulations and find the right market for your product. If you are in the food sector, as Vanilla Bean is, there is an additional government requirement. You will need to have your product tested at the ‘laboratory’ to make sure it is up to standard. What is interesting is that you do not know how much this will cost beforehand There seems to be no standard fee. You then drop samples off at the agency which gives you the authorization (FRA). You will then have to call them after a week or so to find how much this will set you back. When you hear the amount you need to pay, (make sure you are sitting down), you need to go to another office and pay this surprise amount. The next step is that they visit your production site and check that your site is up to standard. I would say this is equivalent to a Bureau of Standards, which approves products before they go on the market. This is an essential step if you want to include supermarkets in your distribution channel.
Today I went to the Commissariat to get information on how to get a residence permit. I had an appointment with a brigadier who was a friend of a friend. To get anything official done I always ask ” Do you know anyone who works at ‘X’ office? Invariably the answer is ” My cousin works there” or ” My cousin knows someone who works there”! It is all about connections, I tell you!
I was not looking forward to the meeting as I have already been through the process of applying for a residence permit but I had a one year teaching contract instead of a 2 year contract and thus all the money I spent on translating my other documents such as the police record and my birth certificate were wasted. So here we go again… Mr Brigadier said we could try going down the route of a business owner (I suggested that actually). He gave me the same list of documents again plus others related to owning a business. My heart sunk knowing that I had to go through procuring the documents again as the documents have to be valid for 3 months and that period has long passed! Ughhh, the trials and tribulations of moving to a foreign country without a conventional expat job……
The Senegalese have held on to many things from the French and one of them is the bureaucratic approach to all things official and the love of paperwork. This is one of the facets of life here that wears me down. I know everything is possible, but I am really not great in the “being patient” department! I guess I ain’t perfect. 🙂