Through a visual and analytical investigation, Small is Powerful provides an unusual vision of the African continent by exploring it through its Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Above all, the project is attached to a human vision of these companies by looking at their stakeholders (clients, employees, local population, political and community figures) and by positively highlighting the impact of these SMEs on their respective ecosystems.

By producing five reportages on SMEs operating in different countries and sectors, the project aims to show how African SMEs are a catalyst for growth on the continent.

The project intends to

1 / Fight against stereotypes on how African economy and society are currently perceived ;
2 / Support and promote the reality of African entrepreneurship which is rich and dynamic, carrying prospects for the future ;
3 / Produce visual and analytical content allowing an efficient case to be made for these entrepreneurs committed to this dynamic, and who are vital contributors supporting African growth.


Unlike the image that is conveyed far too often, Sub-Saharan Africa is not an entrepreneurial desert, only stirred by international help and micro-business : many companies spring up, innovate and grow on the continent. They are often small in size, but constitute a powerful tool for growth !

Small is Powerful is an initiative that aims to show a new facet of the African continent. It combines on-site reportages and impact assessments to illustrate the key role played by African SME’s in favouring growth.

The project obviously focuses on the entrepreneurs, office life, but goes beyond this by questioning their stakeholders and assessing the impact that these companies have on the lives of these people (job creation, infrastructure, improvement of living conditions etc.)

Five SMEs from throughout the African continent and working in very different sectors have worked with us and are the subject of a study. Each SME has been founded and managed by an African man or woman.

  • Agrisatch in a Beninese SME which locally produces quality eggs in large quantities, lowering prices and helping give poorer populations access to protein. The company has gradually become the largest poultry producer in the country.
  • IOT is an SME specialised in the industrial aquaculture of sea cucumbers. It works with isolated fishing villages allowing them to earn extra income and avoid overfishing. It helps fight the extinction of marine fauna.
  • NEST is a Senegalese SME which offers complete medical cover for women and young children. NEST’s long-term strategy is to set up a national network of health structures, and currently offers an interim solution for the Middle Classes, midway between costly clinics, and under-staffed public structures.
  • Wecyclers is a Nigerian SME that combines high tech with low-cost means of transport to offer an innovating recycling service adapted to the needs of inhabitants in informal settlements. It contributes in this way to a better management of urban waste and teaches local populations recycling techniques.
  • CDS proposes access to water and electricity services for rural populations in Mauritania, and particularly to the poorest and most isolated in the country. The company is a national leader in renewable energies.

Before each reportage, there is extensive preparatory work with the SMEs, filling in an impact assessment matrix specifically drawn up by the project teams and based on EU recommendations in the domain. The contents of the matrix constitute a check-list which then guides the visual production (photo and video) during a 10-day reportage on-site.


The analysis and production phase of these reportages was carried out in 2014. It enabled us to produce, for each SME, a photographic series, a 10-minute film, a 3-minute film, an impact assessment and graphics to represent the principal impacts. 

In 2015-2016 the contents will be distributed in a multimodal way to reach the greatest number of people : a web documentary offering an interactive narration within African entrepreneurship, a dedicated website, a large-format travelling exhibition, an editorial object, a series of lecture events in 6 French universities, multimedia content adapted to web distribution.

Small is Powerful is designed to be a tool to raise public awareness, but also among decision-makers (political, media, economic), investors, entrepreneurs, a diaspora on the importance of companies as a vector and enhancer of growth on the continent.

In order to achieve this, the project, (also available in a French version, Les Grands Moyens) will benefit from a multinational distribution in the media ( / RFI in France ; Internazionale / Marie Claire in Italy ; El Pais in Spain ; Stern in Germany etc.) and will, we hope, also extend widely over the African continent.

The projet Small is Powerful was initiated by Joan Bardeletti and Jean-Michel Severino, president of Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P).

The project was developed by Joan Bardeletti, thanks to the work of I&P’s ESG & Impact team, the valuable contributions of the entrepreneurs involved, and the support of its partners: the French Development Agency (AFD), PROPARCO, CFAO, the European Union and the Government of Monaco.