Interview: Christian Ngan – How to Launch an Innovative Business in Africa

Name: Christian Ngan

Name Of Company: Madlyn Cazalis

Country: Cameroon

IMG_4055An entrepreneur, businessman, financier in Cameroon and owner of Goldsky Partners and Madlyn Cazalis Group; 31-year-old Christian Ngan is a personality that inspires other African entrepreneurs to believe that we can create innovative products in Africa, take them to the global market and be successful.

To add to his achievements Christian has also been listed in Forbes magazine as one of the Most Promising Entrepreneur in Africa. Also included in The Choiseul 100 Africa: Economic Leaders for Tomorrow, and also featured by Young People in International Affairs (YPIA) in the “Top 35 Africans under 35 in 2014 and nominated Young Business Leader of The Year West Africa by CNBC Africa.

It’s obvious to see that this guy is set to become a significant player in the African business world.

In this exclusive interview we catch up with Christian to find out what drives him to continually achieve, and how does he identify potential business opportunities in Africa


Prince: Can you describe Madlyn Cazalis, and the idea and concept as if I knew nothing about it or the market?

CHRISTIAN: Madlyn Cazalis is an organic cosmetic brand. The company was created in Cameroon in 2012. Why is it organic? Because we use at least 90% of natural ingredients to manufacture the products.

We produce oils, creams, scrubs, lotions, soaps using plants and fruits such as aloe vera, lemon, cucumber, cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut. We launched an African-owned original product and want Madlyn Cazalis to become a major leading consumer good company in Africa.

Prince: Describe the experience of transitioning from being an employee to an employer?

CHRISTIAN: Transitioning from employee to employer is not that easy because you have to find the courage to leave your comfort zone and embrace new challenges.

I had 6 months of reflexion asking myself: what do I want for my life? What are my dreams? How do I want to live in a few years? What’s the kind of lifestyle I want? I wanted to work on my own challenges; I wanted to have time to see my friends, my family or my girlfriend. One day I just took the decision and I decided to resign.

Prince: What were your accomplishments in your previous jobs that gave you the belief in creating success out of Madlyn Cazalis?

CHRISTIAN: I had an experience in strategy and corporate finance. Working as an investment banker associate, I was used to analysing different company strategies in numerous sectors. I was excited when learning about different industries. This gave me the belief that I could create my own venture.

Prince: You were educated in France. Did this have any influence on you starting a business, and having the ability to make it successful?

CHRISTIAN: I had the chance to study in the best schools in France, I really wanted to study management, financial engineering and international business.

I think I received all the tools to become my own boss. But, I don’t really think being educated or being educated in France makes me better than someone who didn’t have these opportunities. And you know what? Some of the greatest entrepreneurs on earth dropped out from school.

Prince: And do you think Education in Africa motivates and equips African entrepreneurs?

CHRISTIAN: There are good schools that teach management and engineering in Africa, but in my point of view, I don’t think schools have the entrepreneurship culture. Many students are more prepared to be a brand manager, a risk officer or a controller than being an entrepreneur.

We really have a problem, especially in French-speaking African countries, as we don’t have enough role models. Youth need more role models to succeed. This will motivate them to launch their own companies.

Prince: What convinced you to return to Africa, and what goals did you set out to achieve?

CHRISTIAN: African business is booming. Africa has incredible potential with a young dynamic population. I wanted to be part of the movement. My goal is to create a leader, a major international African brand such as MTN, Dangote Cement and Ecobank. There is a lack of African famous and recognizable brands. We want to be a leader and we want other Africans to create leaders.

Prince: How did you conceive the idea of starting a cosmetic company, and what problems did you set out to solve?

CHRISTIAN: African women love cosmetics and the sector grows by 10% each year. The offer of natural cosmetic products is reduced and so many local industrials distribute whitening products. We want to educate women, preventing them from using bleaching lotions, creams and oils. Too many of these products are dangerous for health. Madlyn Cazalis USP is that we provide quality products and services.

Prince: How do you deal with competition with other organic cosmetic products?

CHRISTIAN: The cosmetic sector is very competitive but we are just at the beginning of the organic cosmetic trend in Africa. This market is already mature in U.S. and Europe, with countries such as France and Germany. We create a new offer and provide a lot of services: free delivery, dermatological advise, fidelity cards and selective distribution.

Prince: What’s the most fulfilling and rewarding part of what you have been doing?

CHRISTIAN: I think the most rewarding part is being regularly honoured and receiving international awards for my work. It gives me the courage to pursue my dreams. When you observe your company grow and people say that they love your products, it’s a beautiful reward too.

Prince: What challenges have you faced during these periods?

CHRISTIAN: I faced a lot of negativity, administrative burden and loneliness in front of giants with a lot of financing power. David vs Goliath is very challenging but it is also a beautiful experience.

Prince: Where are you taking Madlyn Cazalis Group to in the next few years?

CHRISTIAN: In the next few years, I want Madlyn Cazalis to be well installed in Central and West Africa. We receive mails from potential customers from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Gabon and Congo. We are preparing ourselves to be a leader in African cosmetics. We also want African customers to benefit from Madlyn Cazalis wonderful natural skincare effects.

Prince: You have a fight against Bleaching, what advice would you give Africans who indulge in this activity?

CHRISTIAN: I would say, stop using bleaching products, stop complexes, and stop damaging your beautiful skin. Be proud of the beautiful skin God gave you. A lot of men and women don’t even know these products contain poison, corticoids and mercury to name a few. Our job is to educate them. Dark skin is beautiful.

Prince: How do you translate your experience into mentorship through the Goldsky Partners?

CHRISTIAN: A lot of young people are lost. They have ideas but don’t have guidance. I take this opportunity to share my experience and mentor them to achieve their goals. People need to know how you did it, what were your challenges; they need to gain courage from your experiences. A lot of young people need it.

Prince: What potential do you see in other young African entrepreneurs?

CHRISTIAN: Young African entrepreneurs have a lot of potential and they have a lot of ideas. We see a lot of young start-ups emerging in Africa. We see a lot of initiatives in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa. I have to underline the fact that African French-speaking countries are way behind the other African countries, because we don’t have this entrepreneurial culture.

In Nigeria and Kenya, there are more initiatives to encourage young African entrepreneurs, more business angels, more private equity funds, more incubators, and more competitions. I think we need more initiatives in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Niger and Congo.

Prince: And which industries, and lucrative business areas do you think will provide future business opportunities for African entrepreneurs?

CHRISTIAN: Almost all industries could provide future business opportunities for African Entrepreneurs: Industry, Telecommunication, Energy, Consumer Goods, Agro-business, Education, Technology…there are too many opportunities, but we don’t have enough international significant actors in these fields yet.

Prince: Between Africa and Cameroon, which has always been your priority and why?

CHRISTIAN: Africa Is my priority, but right now, I’m focused on Cameroon. Madlyn Cazalis has pan-African ambitions but we are doing things step by step. We need to show we are the best here before taking over other countries. But, be sure Madlyn Cazalis will be the pan-African brand you want to see.

If you want to know more about what Christian is up to CONNECT

Twitter: @ChristianNgan
Linkedin: Christian Ngan

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By | 2015-05-21T22:15:20+01:00 April 13th, 2015|Interviews, Startups|0 Comments

About the Author:

Passionate about making a difference through determination and hard work in order to leave an eternal Legacy for Africa. Renowned as a change maker, youth leader, blogger, volunteer, online publisher, documentary producer and a social media entrepreneur.

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