Romeo clearly remembers the day when he handed in his notice. Shortly beforehand, he had telephoned his Cameroonian friend Giscard and asked him: ‘I’m biting the bullet and quitting. Are you absolutely certain that we’re going back to Cameroon and starting up a company?’ At the time, his friend had two weeks longer than Romeo to hand in his notice. ‘Yes, I’m certain,’ his friend replied. But, two weeks later, it was his turn to call Romeo and ask him whether he was still sure and had indeed handed in his notice.
The business idea
In 2016, two IT nerds educated in Germany, one a software developer, the other a network engineer, came up with a well-thought-out business plan while on the way to Douala. They reluctantly left their wives and children behind in Germany to devote all their energy to establishing and running their company, ‘Toltec Consulting’, in Cameroon. Their vision was nothing less than to use modern IT applications to improve processes in Cameroon’s institutions, which were still mainly paper-based, and make them more efficient. Says Romeo: ‘We suspected that we’d have our work cut out trying to persuade everyone, because digital processes put question marks over existing structures and values. In fact, they completely alter the relationships between the state, society and the private sector. IT applications, for example, can improve transparency and accountability. But what do you do when potential customers in Cameroon don’t see it as an improvement at all, but as a highly unpredictable risk?’