With growth of over 6% in the last four years and estimates skimming 11% forecast for 2022-2023*, Senegal is set to become one of the most interesting emerging economies to invest in.
In the last few years, the African country has become a logistics, business, cultural, and economic platform for the countries in the region, as well as a highly dynamic financial hub.
Its potential has not gone unnoticed, with several international companies and organizations bringing Senegal’s potential to the attention of their countries of origin. This is Jokoo’s case, the consultancy firm with Asturian and Basque roots. With less than 6 years of operation, it has already helped to implement almost 80 companies from all sectors through the use of translation.
Berba talked with Miguel Martinez, co-founder and CEO of Jokoo, about Senegal, the challenges of internationalization in the African country, and the importance of translation in the roll-out of its services.
Translating Senegalese potential to Spanish companies
On paper, Jokoo is an internationalization consultancy firm dedicated to helping companies and SMEs, mainly Spanish, and international promotional organizations, to conduct business in Senegal and other countries in its area of influence such as Gambia, Cape Verde, or Guinea Bissau.
However, in practice, Jokoo offers much, much more.
Its extensive service proposal ensures that Jokoo emerges as a consultancy firm with a comprehensive offer: from the layout of the internationalization project to its implementation and monitoring. “We want companies to learn from all their opportunities, so that they can do business which can be as inclusive as possible,” explains Miguel Martínez.
Since the idea of founding the consultancy firm was conceived whilst Joaquín García, the co-founding partner of Jokoo, was on the sofa, the company has helped companies from 17 sectors (industry, consumption, construction, or transport) to offer their products and services in Senegal.
Understanding, the fundamental basis of business implantation
The three co-founding partners had a clear goal from its inception: they wanted to create a company with a strong bond to the country and society.
“We believe that in order to do business in this area, one should understand what local life is like, what time locals eat, what they eat, who they pray to, whose goals they celebrate, what music they dance to”.
Jokoo is so committed to the country that it invests part of its resources to social and sports associations in Senegal.
Translation services: an essential investment in internationalization strategies
“You only have one chance to make a good first impression,” explains Jokoo’s co-founder.
To make this first impression, Google Translate doesn’t suffice when you can surround yourself with the best professionals. “You can have the best idea and project, but if the marketing department cuts corners, you could damage your brand image or miscommunicate the brand message and generate a lot of confusion for your clients.” For this reason, it’s essential “to carefully choose a well-explained exportable offer”.
“Google Translate generates considerable misunderstandings in clauses and invoices. It may work for three words, but not for important things.”
Jokoo recognizes that trying to establish a business connection when the client’s documentation is not in the business language of that country can present a great handicap. For this reason, English may not be the only viable language in a country where Wolof and French are mainly spoken.
“Translation services are a necessary investment, and we emphasize in all projects that we will review the commercial and marketing material so that it adapts to each interlocutor,” explains Miguel.
*Information from ICEX