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Coaching Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries with Nadine Reichenthal

Nadine Reichenthal

With her extensive background training entrepreneurs in developing countries, Switzerland-based Nadine Reichenthal presents many fascinating stories about business in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Kenya, Benin, and Burkina Faso to China, Israel, and Ethiopia. Which two countries are the perfect test markets for many new products? Why is primary market research harder in certain Asian countries? From shoes and chocolate to credit cards and colors, what primary factors should new entrepreneurs consider in new markets? How have women entrepreneurs fared in these countries? What three factors are critical for any new e-commerce start-up? How can people find solutions when some factors are not present? And how are some countries leapfrogging over obstacles? Nadine’s answers will both surprise and enlighten you.


Nadine’s journey

The teaching method and practice of Africans, Asians, vs Europeans.

When cultures don’t value entrepreneurship.

Nadine’s distinct coaching practices.

Giving advice in different countries.

Training woman entrepreneurs

Nadine Reichenthal bio:

Nadine Reichenthal has coached and trained many companies and start-ups in Business Validation. She is one of the leading Swiss experts on the Value Proposition and Business Model frameworks developed by Strategyzer. Through her expertise, she helps startups to optimize their offers, validated by clients’ needs. Nadine has worked with more than 1000 startups, and organized webinars, seminars and workshops for more than 15,000 participants. As a result, many of the companies she has trained have been able to increase their turnover, win prizes or close multi-million-dollar contracts.
She has also been a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Geneva and Lausanne (Switzerland), where she developed Accelerator Programs. Nadine is involved in numerous support structures for entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial projects, as a trainer, coach or expert in Switzerland and emerging countries in Africa and Asia. Nadine works mainly for the program of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), or for International Innovation Programs such as UN Women or Creatella Impact.
Nadine co-founded the entrepreneurship program, Graines d’Entrepreneurs, for teenagers and participated in the implementation of the federal certificate for SME managers by a validation of acquired education (VAE), originally intended for spouses of craftsmen. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Tank-D in Luxembourg, a company active in bio-waste storage; a member of the Foundation Board of BVA, a social reintegration company; and a member of the Advisory Board of Veintree, a startup active in palm recognition.

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Full Transcript

Hello everyone. Since today’s guest is from French Switzerland, I thought it would be appropriate to start with a blooper in French. It said, “Règles de la piscine” which means “swimming pool rules” and it says in French, “Le non-respect des règles conduit à l’expulsion.” This means basically “The non-respect of rules leads to expulsion,” but instead, it said it very clearly in English. “Anyone obeying the swimming pool rules may be required to leave”. Not exactly what the French intended with that. 

So, today’s guest is Nadine Reichenthal. Nadine was a lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Geneva and Lausanne, in Switzerland where she developed accelerator programs. Nadine is involved in numerous support structures for entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial projects, as a trainer, coach or expert in Switzerland and emerging countries in Africa and Asia. Nadine works mainly for the program of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) or for International Innovation Programs such as UN Women or Creatella Impact. 

She is a member of the Board of Directors of Tank-D in Luxembourg, a company active in bio waste storage. She’s a member of the founding board of BVA, social reintegration company, and a member of the Advisory Board of Daintree, the startup active and palm recognition. She provides international training programs and business coaching through her company NadineConnect.CH  

And CH, for people who don’t know, is the abbreviation for Switzerland. Welcome to a team delighted that you joined us today. 

Thank you very much, Philip. 

So perhaps you could start by telling us a bit about your background and how you acquired your expertise. 

So, my expertise is in fact in two ways. First, my academic background and what I have done in the last year. So, as I am 68, you see it’s more or less 45 years of practice. So, I had the chance to study economics. And just to understand what macroeconomics is, it means understanding, you know policies, international laws, and after the microeconomy to understand what is the company and it means that today I can work on the level of a country developing some businesses and also how it is for normal people, how to do that? 

So just to go from the very high level of economies, from the country to what is going to happen with the people locally, that helps me to go through the ladder. From the bottom up to the app and after so my career was in computer science making developing countries. And when I started, it was punched hole cards. You know, the cards. 

Punch cards. 

So, it is that you have to go back to all that. And mostly I was working in what is called an Order to Invoice system, understanding from customer to customer from very small corporations to very big companies. That works like an association. They had a surveyor, which is 100 countries in more than 20 business sectors. 

So, it means when you have to put in place this type of system, you’re really to understand everything and that’s how I started to work in Africa, in Asia, Latin America, because we have to test the inspection module we wanted to put in place. And at the same time, after working on that, I’ll also work in what we call embedded software. You know, the software you put in the satellite. So, it means that you have to do that  when it is 36,000 kilometers away. If you didn’t take the test, there’s no way you can take it back. 

So, I develop competency in testing and testing scenarios. And I’m still happy that nothing happened to my Meteosat, which is still turning around the planet from 1980/81 so I’m quite proud. You know, in this scenario. And that helps me that you have to understand everything to make a computer program to understand everything. So, it helps me really to understand from the beginning to the last. 

And after our work in mergers and acquisitions and to help you the company that was supposed to work together to put in place formal and informal data and flows to put them together. And then you have to understand how a company is working, which one is the best one. 

So, it helps you to develop all this kind of like the plug; you have the plug in the US like that and we have the plug in Europe with three and you have to make something in between because electricity is everywhere. But then you have to make the adapter. Because you cannot change all the plugs worldwide. 

So, this is how my mindset was done, you know, to adapt the situation to help people communicate, even if they don’t speak the same language. Even if they don’t do so. That’s how I develop this kind of thing. And after you know something happened on September 11th, we had to change. You know the company had some problems. And then I had the opportunity to start work with the federal program for innovation. It was really the program that Switzerland said that innovation, we don’t have the raw material. That we have a brain and let’s use it. 

We have what?



So, it means that we have to work on what we have and that’s the Ph.D. And just to say that we have to go from lab to market. So, the idea was to teach this Ph.D. student about how to develop a business with what they had developed. And so that was the program which was called Venture Lab. And so I was in charge of this program for eight years to teach, train, coach, and develop all these kinds of projects from lab to market projects. 

So, we have trained more or less 8000 students from that 20%. Well, as developed a company. And we still have maybe 10 to 15% of them still existing now. So, it means that statistically 75% of the startups will fail. And for me, that was really a shame that due to the fact that people were selling a product that nobody wanted, didn’t go to the right market. And I said no, we have to change something and that’s how we put in place the accelerator program for the University of Lausanne first and then Geneva just to help the students to understand what people want, and especially that they don’t, they should not develop what nobody wants and that’s really what I am telling my students. 

I want to do something I say OK and then I develop a new one. Let’s say I want to develop something. I found a problem I want to solve. And guess who is going to be successful? So, it means that when you find the problem and then you know that somebody wants to do that. 

So that’s what I teach at the university and at the Accelerator, just to know if it is a problem and if we are using it. You know the type of methodology of the four steps to epiphany from customer discovery, customer validation, and so on. That’s what we teach. And that’s how we make it. And as I am developing this project in Africa, we go and implement the project and then you have the theory, the practice, and then you turn about applying what you have learned and we come up with new problems with new theories and that’s how the practice started. And as I am also working as a jury member in some of this internationally, you know business things, you see a lot of things. So maybe I am a jury member,maybe I read 500 business plans a year. So, it means that… 

Let me stop you there if you don’t mind and go back to something you just said. You’re talking about working in Africa? How does it differ in your coaching practice and your teaching when you teach Europeans or when you teach Africans or when you teach Asians? Do the methods differ in any way? 

The Method, no. The practice, yes. 

And can you explain how that differs? 

It’s just about, for example, I take a country in Asia which is Bangladesh. OK, so Bangladesh is an Islamic country and the place of women is very special. So, when I say in Europe, in my class, I start my class, I give a tool and I say now you go outside and interview. So here and then, they will go outside, go to the bus station, and speak to people. This is something you cannot do in Bangladesh. You cannot speak to people in the streets, women cannot. 

A woman cannot speak to strangers in the streets? 

And the way you will ask people something. So, in the behavior, it will be different and also. For example, when on the culture and having Bangladesh the same and another little story. So, I was coming to give a course in a place, and so I was in. And being in time in advance because people, you know they have, we call it African time, you know if you say 8 PM, 8:00 AM, they will come at 9:00. 

So, when I was there, it was a little boy coming. The tea boy and he said, would you like a cup of tea? And I said no, thank you. And he came 10 seconds later. After here your cup of tea. And so, when we entered the conference and so the President asked if everything OK, blah blah blah. And I said no. And I say why, because you know, the little boy asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. Said no, and he was taking me this cup of tea. And you said you were not happy. I said no. Because I said no. So, for me European, I know that the kids, he doesn’t know what he said. Because he’s not speaking English. Then he was told to say this sentence and to take a cup of tea. And I said for us. 

Which country was this? Sorry, in which country?


Bangladesh also. 

Yeah, because it was really different. And so, I was explaining to people in Europe when we say no, we want to be heard as no. And when we say yes, we want to be heard. And so, I told them to tell me no, that I will be in confidence with you. And we were developing, you know, the program for body shopping in IT. And then the people get crazy because the people in India and in Bangladesh will always say yes, even if they have no idea of what you have asked and that’s working with this different culture, you have to know that people say yes, yes. 


You have to say what you mean by yes. And that’s the way you have to repeat. And to be sure that when they told you something, it’s really what they understood what you said. And though so it takes more time to be sure that the person you are working with knows what you say and that’s what you have to learn. When you travel, that’s what you have to learn. If the people in front of you, how they behave when they understand, when they don’t understand when they do something, what they want to do, when they do something, they don’t want to do and all these kinds of things. 

That’s a wonderful example you gave in Bangladesh. Can you give some other examples of when you’ve worked with people in other parts of Asia or Africa? 

So, it’s the same thing in Africa, the same thing  If I am and as I am an older woman. OK. Come into a room. Everybody will listen to me, even if they don’t. And it means that in Africa and a lot of African countries, what is important, what makes you an important person is your age. 

So, it means that when you work with people, and especially in computers, in a digital area where it’s the young people that know most of the things and not the older. Some of the young people can’t say to the older people that what they have done is wrong because you cannot say that to an older person. And when you are entering a room, you are first to go to the older person.

To greet people you mean? 

Greet people and also when you start, you know, as you say in Africa, more or less you cannot say hello. How are you able to restart, you have to ask how the family is and how it is and so you take ten minutes just to say nothing and if you are working in Germany and if you start asking the people how is your family, they look at you and say, “We are professionals.”

So, is all this behavior in this culture you have to learn? To be able it is just about colors. The type of colors you are going to wear. You know, if I am wearing white in India, they think I know somebody in my family just died so they can say I’m so sorry. So, it’s just about the usage of the color, the length of the woman, the length of what I’m wearing. You know , if I’m working in an Islamic country, I have to cover my head. So, it’s all these kinds of things that you have to understand about the time when you say to people. 

So, I’m coming back from Burkina Faso and I said to the people because I was leaving for the airport. I said OK, I see you at 10:00 AM and the other one at 12. Of course. The first one came at 10:10…12 and then we have only 10 minutes and they say here’s what I say. Yes, but the time is so this Africa. Is that what you have to say, people? And when I’m teaching, for example, and I teach entrepreneurship and I call them that they are, for example, when they are going to look for money, you know, money raising, I say if you come two hours late. In front of your investors, if you are African, that will not help you. 

So, you have to behave like the people hope because the money you will have is. As you will have there you know the people from Silicon Valley, the people from Europe and you looking for the same money and you can say I’m a poor African and I am late and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. So, it means that when I am starting my course, I start what we have in Switzerland, which is called “quart d’heure vaudois,”  which is 15 minutes’ delay. 

So, I start my course 15 minutes’ delay maximum and start. Even if it is only two persons in the room and when the others are coming, say can we go back and say no. So, the second day is on time. And people say you don’t, you have to adapt to local culture, say no because they have to behave to be internationally recognized, which is a little different. After my course, I will behave as a looker, but during my course, they have to learn the international way of making business.

That’s fascinating. Yes. And I know the Swiss are extremely punctual. The previous guest said if you’re invited to dinner in Switzerland at 7:00 o’clock you literally arrive on the dot at 7:00 o’clock not at 7:05 and not five before 7. But all guests arrive absolutely at 7:00 o’clock.

That’s why we have watches, you know, that’s.

That’s why you have watches and invented them, right? 

That’s great. And it’s also. A question of confidence. You know when you say to somebody come at 7 and you come at 7:30, you mean that you have no respect for yourself? 


And it’s a question of confidence. So, we are using it. So, I am using this on-time Switzerland and more or less everything in Switzerland still is on time, even the train, the plane, but the train still just to get about confidence and respect. 

It’s fascinating. Let’s talk about the entrepreneurial climate both in Switzerland and Europe in general, and in the other countries in which you teach. In the United States, entrepreneurism is very highly valued and very highly respected. And the climate for entrepreneurism is very well-developed in terms of Marketing and Finance and venture capital, and so forth.

In Europe, there’s a weaker tradition of entrepreneurship. It certainly exists now, and it’s quite strong now, especially among younger people. But traditionally it’s been weak. So how does this pose any obstacles when you’re teaching entrepreneurship in other countries in terms of marketing and attracting talent and establishing credibility and financing and so forth? 

So, I will say it’s something about the US culture of entrepreneurship. It’s something that the first one, I say it’s behavioral, you know, Americans, they are less afraid to take risks and fail. In Europe, It’s impossible. You know, you cannot fail. And if you fail, this is. This is impossible. So, a lot of people will not try because they are afraid of failing. So that’s the first. 

The second, second entrepreneurial, let’s say problem is just when you want to develop a business you are going to work for your market. Usually, you develop something for a specific market. So, for example, in the US you have more or less 350,000,000 inhabitants. You have one language; you have no border. It means that when you are going to have a market in something, you may go from the eastern coast to the Pacific Coast and you have the same behavior, the same project. I mean you can find the same problem.

Here in Europe, it’s totally different and especially so I take Switzerland, which is in the middle of Europe, but which is not in the European Union. It means that in Switzerland we are more or less 8 million people. And these 8 million people we have three official languages, four national languages, and when we teach, we are using English. It means that if you want to develop something for the French-speaking market, it means 20% of the population. It means that you will develop a product for 1.5 million. Because if you want to develop for the German-speaking market, then you have to make the marketing, the packaging, everything in another language. 

So, it means that makes for you about marketing and in Europe, of course, if you go to Italy, they speak Italian. If you go to Hungary, they will speak Hungarian, Dutch, and so on. So, it means that each market will have a specific way of behavior because we don’t have a unique common language. But at the same time, the advantages of Switzerland of having foreigners and different languages. It helps us to test something in different languages. 

So, a lot of companies are coming to Switzerland to test, for example, marketing products because they know that they will have different behavior. French, German, Italian, and international health can test you know marketing behavior as some of them test also in Israel for the same reason, because in Israel you have people coming from a lot of different countries with a lot of different habits and in a small country you can test behavior. So that’s something. So that’s for the market and entrepreneurship. 

So, in Switzerland what we have, we have something important. We are the country where we have the most patents. 

The most patents?

Yeah, the patents, you know, means that it means that the difference between entrepreneurship and patent is a little different because you can patent without being an entrepreneur. 


So, entrepreneurial, that’s my definition of entrepreneurship. My definition of entrepreneurship is answering a need of a customer that is not existing. It means giving a new product, a new service to somebody. This is for me; entrepreneurs make a new solution to an existing problem. So, in Switzerland that was not very easy, and when you have that due to the small market, it’s complicated. 

But if you do what we have in Switzerland, we will have entrepreneurs that will develop the products, but after they will leave for a country where they can have the money and they will have the market. So, we are very good at emerging startups, but after they leave for bigger markets. 

Makes a lot of sense, of course, yes. 

That is, you know, our taxes. And then they love.

And like.

You also are involved in training, training entrepreneurs and coaching business, and so forth. What makes your training and your coaching methods or practices different from those of other professionals? 

It’s very easy. I am always against their project. I will never ever again… I never, ever believe what they do. I say I don’t believe in your product. I don’t believe in your situation and next week for training, I want you to have interviewed 50 people. And after you come back, you have to convince me that I was wrong. So that’s my way of coaching. 

And they say, and the people I’m coaching, they say that I will always say I don’t care what you want to sell. I just want to know what your customers are going to buy. So, this is my way, but especially we are using tools that have been developed at the University of Lausanne, so maybe you know about the business model canvas, the value proposition Canvas that has been invented in Lausanne by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

So, we are using tools. For each part of the entrepreneurship journey from the empathy map to the Persona Canva to the value proposition Canva, to the pitch deck, to all the things, there are tools we are going to use. So, it’s very structured coming from my computer background, and you have to fill it especially since we are putting a lot of importance on testing business ID. 

So, I told you about when we were. Because when we were launching, you know, the satellite just to make the testing scenario, it’s the same for the entrepreneurs. I want them to test each of the IDs and go after when I meet the test. They go, they go, they go. 

I don’t want them to start. I want to have everything on the paper about the interview they made about the minimum viable product and the proof of concept. I don’t know what, but they have to make an interview to get out of this building and it’s not something that I teach which has been touched by other people, get out of the building, which is… 

And that’s the way I’m teaching differently. And the people in my course at university. So, they have 50. 10 minutes theory and after they have to go and people say we have, “We can leave, Madame?” Say yes and I want to see you in half an hour. 

So you know, they are total. Yeah, they have to leave the class and come back with the interview. So that’s the way I’m the same and that’s where I have a problem in some countries because when I want people to interview people in countries where you don’t speak to people in the streets like China, like in Malaysia where you cannot do that. Then you have to find another way to speak with the people, and sometimes you don’t have your, you know, people, your customers close to you. So that makes you know the situation if you want to work about Timber. Then you have to make 200 kilometers to interview the people in the Cameroon forest on the not-so-easy. 

Very interesting. When you are training entrepreneurs, do you change your advice according to the industry or the country? You gave some examples just now about China and Malaysia. 

Of course, in fact, this is what we do in entrepreneurship. It’s about a reality check. So of course, it will not be the same situation depending on the country, depending on the legislation, depending on the law, depending on the electricity, depending on all these kinds of things. 

For example, I am now giving training to the trainer in Ghana. And so, it’s online training. And I was explaining to the people that I absolutely want to finish the training before the end of May and people say why are you in the area? I want to finish the training before the rainy season. Because when it will be raining, we don’t have any more Wi-Fi. 

So, you know it, it’s all about this kind of thing. So, people tell. Oh, but you know, in Africa they have sun. So, they can have solar planet panels. Say yes, but you know we are in a dry season and rainy season, rainy season it’s three months where it rained 1 meter of water. So you know the solar panel, it will not work. 

So, it’s a lot of things like that that you have to understand how the country works and what is the behavior of the people, what is the law in Africa, a lot of companies we are, I will say not companies because that’s where the problem… a lot of projects we are working with are informal. It means that they are not registered and as they are not registered, I mean they don’t pay taxes. 

So, the government doesn’t have money to help. So, you have, you know, a virtuous circle. And just to help the people like that. So of course, if we want to develop, for example, banana products. In life, for example, in Burkina Faso where they don’t have a banana, it’s coming from Ghana, then it will be different for you to work.

For example, the only place in Africa where you can have coffee. I mean real coffee. It’s in Rwanda because they have plants and they know how to roast the coffee. In other countries, they are sent to Europe green coffee, which is roasted in Europe and what they receive, and they receive something like Nescafe. So, they don’t know what the real taste of real coffee is. 

And when you work on chocolate, for example, I was working on chocolate products in Ivory Coast and people say, OK, we are going to sell chocolate that is for people that are ill for young people, you know, the babies and you are like that, you know, me coming from the country of chocolate, I say no. Adults are drinking coffee. We are eating chocolate. We are drinking chocolate in the afternoon and saying, hey, it’s a market there, and saying Yes so and so you can start to explain to them how the market is. So for them, it was a revolution to understand that they can sell chocolate and to drink chocolate not only for kids but for them.

It was just, you know, what was the advertisement for Nestle, for the kids before going to school and they were thinking. This is the only population that can drink hot chocolate, huh? 

So that’s how you explain things that are OK in your country. But in another country, this is like that and as I am traveling from Eastern Africa to Western Africa, the traditions are different. The ways are different and that’s very interesting. 

So of course, I had that you cannot sell winter shoes there and I don’t know where in Nigeria, you know. They will not need them so, so and everything. Another example is I am using shoes. It’s just that you cannot have summer shoes or winter shoes. You will not sell them in the same country. You know the place where you will have snow. In Africa, it’s Uganda, and Kenya, where you will have the snow. But you will not have snow in Vienna or in Senegal, so you know, Africa is a very big place. 

And also, for the size, if you are selling shoes to Peull women living in Senegal, the Peul women are more or less 1 meter 90, so they will have shoe size European size 42. And that’s if you want to sell shoes as you have in China, where women’s shoes are 34, then you know you have to adapt to the country. And for me, I would have a 37 European size. If I want to sell my size, in which country can you, which is going to be successful? 

So, what’s with this example I’m explaining to the people, you have to adapt to the local market, to local conditions, to culture, to ethical places, you know the color of. For beauty, beauty, the foundation for women will not be the same color in no way and in Africa. 

So the color of what? 

Foundation, you know. 

Foundation? Like face foundation?

Face Foundation will not be the same colors. 


So you have to adapt to the country where you are going to work. 

To make up, yes. 

They have, for example, or also. That’s something that people will not eat in your country. 


You know, in Africa you will eat insects and if you speak about other animals that we eat in Europe, how can you eat that? And when we say, how can you eat that? So that’s… Is the culture which is coming in this way. 

What about women entrepreneurs? When you’re training them, does that pose any special issues compared to men entrepreneurs? 

So, women entrepreneurs have the same problem everywhere. You know, they lack access to education, to financing. They have to take care of their kids. It’s a lot of things. But at the same time, when we develop specific women’s entrepreneurship, we know that if you give micro-credit to women, it will be successful. And if you give it to men, it will be less successful. 

And especially because the woman developed a kind of mindset, which is together, for example in Africa, you have something which is called a Tontine. It is like a piggy-bank  box where people put money. And one of the women needs the money, so they catch the calabash, and you are using the money for them. 

And so, and after you go back, and we are putting in place electronic touching that the woman helps them together. So, in some countries for example, like in Ghana. For example, in all the works I mean the fabric is in the hand of the woman. It’s no man in the fabric business. You don’t have any men… 

Or making manufacturing or?

Selling those because they’re just, you know, the African tissue we say, which is wax, it’s imported or from Holland or from China. 

So, they import this material, and after they make the dresses they are making that. So, all this business belongs to women. And we call them, we call them the Mama Benz because you know when they have money, they buy a Mercedes Benz. So that’s why they call them Mama Benz, Mama Benz. 

That is very interesting. I noticed in Oman, in the markets, the fishermen and the fish sellers are men, whereas in other countries men should not be in that kind of commercial proximity to women. 

Yeah, absolutely. 

So yeah. 

But in some countries, it could be either that if the women are buying the fish, then it will be the woman in the market. 

Right. But in Oman, it’s the men buying the fish for the family. 

That’s all that you have in this culture. What, what? And also, what we have for women’s entrepreneurship depends on the country. In some countries, girls cannot go to school. When they have their period, they have to stay somewhere. 

So, it means that in one month of school, they will not be there for one week. So, if you do that a lot of the time and after you know the girls don’t go and after some of them are married very, very early, 13 years old, then you have this kind of business. So, the challenge for the woman is the same. Which is that if you are a woman, people are asking you, what do you even like when I’m getting money? Do people ask who is going to take care of the kids, why don’t they ask them then? I mean. And if I have no kids? 

So, it’s really what we see in entrepreneurship, especially when you look for money if you are, for example, a Ph.D. in chemistry or in biology and you say I am the CEO of that. I have developed, and that people will not ask you about kids, but if you are a normal woman. Just wanted to develop a normal business so they started to ask how are you going to make the business? Who’s going to take care of the kid? Who is going to cook? And you are like that, you know? Its men can also do that. So, it’s really something that people think women will not be able to do. That’s yet for investors. 

And in your own training, you use the example of if a woman or young girl has her period, she can’t be in the class. Do you have some way for her to learn the lessons or recapture the lessons? 

So, it depends on the country, it depends on some countries where others are training them, and in other countries, they don’t care. For example, in Uganda, we are putting a lot of work into that. Just to try to change the tradition. Just the girl that if they go it was the same in Europe 100 years ago, you know they were thinking that if the woman had a period, the cows will not be able to make the milk. You know, it was a lot of ideas.

So, depending on the country, if they have a way that they can follow the classes with the other girls. It can be, but usually, when you have this tradition, it means that the country is not so developed that they can use that, let’s say technology, and the same thing during the pandemic, a lot of kids. 

During the pandemic you mean? 

Yes, it’s for a lot of people that couldn’t go to school. So, it means an example, In Burkina Faso, we made the class with the radio instead because they don’t have a computer. So, the class was met with the radio instead during that. 

So, you find some situations in some countries. We have a digital solution that is more let’s say… Higher than what we have in Europe. For example, in Switzerland, you know paying with your phone is not something that is normal. And if you go for example, to Kenya, everybody is paying with the phone and when you come with your phone and people say the first time, I came in in Kenya ten years ago, I was asking for money for the driver and they say, why do you want money? I say to pay the taxi drivers. But you have to have a visa and when you come to Switzerland where you have something that was developed by the bankers, not for the user but by the bankers and we have something which is called tweets. Which is linked to your phone number. 

But you can’t choose your bank account. It means that if I have my professional bank account and my personal bank account, I cannot decide from which account I am going to take the money. And we are speaking that, and people say no, you know, it’s too complicated in Switzerland and say yes, but we can do that in Kenya. OK, so. 

So that’s, that’s what I think, fantastic. You know, working with emerging countries because they come from what we call, you know, the frog. So now I forgot. Yeah, it’s about Frog Lab because you come from nothing to the last and the best techniques. And that’s very much its leap rack. It’s called leapfrog and it’s like that. 

  1. Yes.

Yeah, because you come from absolutely nothing. 


For the last technology, that’s what I found absolutely fascinating. Working in Africa is that you have this situation in some, you know, working, you know the finance to all is about finances in Africa is going absolutely perfectly well. 

But e-commerce is not going so well because you know, there’s no transportation. Then you know you can, you know, for example, when we started the first e-commerce in Nigeria. First, you know how to work to have an e-commerce, you need first to have an address to say where it should be delivered and, in this country, you don’t have an address. 

So, then it means you don’t have a street number or something, so you know that you are using your phone to say you know the location I am. And you just say and after, so you have to be delivered, so no bus… So, you have to make what we call a taxi bus. You know, it means that it goes from one place to another one, which is taken by bus and then that’s the problem after you need to pay. 

So, to put in place e-commerce you need to have these three problems solved, location, then transportation, and pay-to-pay statement, and ten years ago, Visa and MasterCard didn’t want to have a payment coming from Africa, you know with the IP. 

So, we had to develop a PayPal for Africa in Nigeria. That was the first one that was used because it’s a lot of countries where you cannot choose a credit card like it’s the case now in the shipyard, but for other reasons. So actually, the government doesn’t allow people to use a credit card. 

That’s fascinating. Amazing. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close? 

So what I will say is you know something. I have two quotes, you know, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, which is from Thomas Edison. You know, that’s something. And entrepreneurship is always about what people are looking for. They have pain and your job is to solve their pain. People think I want to do that. There are two kinds of entrepreneurs: EGOpreneurs and ECOpreneurs. And you will be successful just by looking at what people need, not what they want to provide.

Very fascinating. Well, thank you so much, Nadine. 

This has been a  wonderful conversation with Nadine Reichental from Switzerland and greatly appreciate your speaking with us. And for our audience out there, I look forward to your joining us next week. Thank you. 

Thank you.

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