As the Guinean government likes to proclaim it loud and clear, its “youth has talent” and Amadou Oury Bah, a young entrepreneur in distribution proves this statement true every day on the job with his eagerness to succeed as his only tool.
“I quickly understood I was being more productive when I was making the decisions and coordinating the actions.” Amadou Oury Bah is 28 years old and bewilderingly self-assured. At 24, then a young intern fresh from Sonfonia University, already convinced he can do better than his superiors, he launches out of nothing his own distribution business : Intello Group Negoce. Four years later, he has nine employees and five interns, and distributes no fewer than ten products to three different points of sale in Conakry (Matoto, Dixinn and Ratoma) for a company with a turnout that neared 1.2 billion Guinean francs (140,000 euros) in 2014. In a country stricken by the economic crisis, the Ebola virus and political instability, what this young man has achieved constitutes a real tour de force.
Especially since, as he says it himself, Guinea doesn’t put enough trust in people like him: “Here, being young is a synonym of weakness and lack of vision.” But that isn’t enough to throw him off its current course: “One day, people will understand there are young Guineans able to get off the beaten path and still obtain results.”
An Aggressive Strategy…
But how did he do it? “I noticed that in the field of telephony in Guinea, people who would import commodities from abroad would stock them and then sit in front of their stores waiting for clients. I don’t have the resources to import myself but I have the capacity to go out there, sell the product and bring back the money. So if as an importer you sign an exclusivity contract with Intello Group to distribute your goods, you take care of importing and I take care of sales in Guinea.” Bah started with telephony but reproduced the same aggressive strategy with other lines of products like soap, baker’s yeast or automotive lubricants. When the exclusive distributor for Shell in Guinea Vivo Energy advertised they were looking for another distributor, many candidates lined up. Amadou Bah got the contract, in spite of being the only one not to offer any financial guarantee. His determination, his vision and his strategy prevailed.
“Multinational corporations have the advantage that they do not need a distributor who has money. They only need the right one, the one who will be the most effective to sell their product.”
… and an Unfailing Willpower
His chiselled face still has a youthful appearance. His black and proud gaze tops his slender and muscular body. Those eyes, however, hold a story… Amadou’s life was turned upside down a day of March 2007 when he was only 15. On the last days of Lansana Conté’s autocratic regime, violent clashes erupted in Conakry. Children were among the victims. “Two of my best friends died before my eyes,” he says in a composed but snapping voice. “That’s when I understood each day counts as a lifetime and that I would never again postpone to tomorrow what I could do today. From that moment on, I stopped having complexes. The part of me that was afraid disappeared…”
Needless to say, Amadou Oury Bah’s rise is far from over. His ruthless ambition, his hard work and his intelligence are sure to take him much further. His aim is to follow in the footsteps of his models : Guinean building contractor Kerfalla Person Camara (GuiCoPres), Senegalese President and highly successful entrepreneur Macky Sall or the richest man of Africa, Nigerian Aliko Dangote.
But for that, he would need the banks of his country to be a little less risk-averse. “I need 120,000 euros to give a real boost to my operations. But in spite of what I have accomplished so far and the billions of Guinean francs already transiting through Intello Group, I still haven’t found a single bank to lend me this money.” But this obstacle will probably be yet another one he will overcome. Of that, he is himself deeply convinced: “I know I have been through the most difficult. Starting from zero and getting where I am right now. That was the hardest.”
Definitely, a young man to watch.