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Sub-Saharan Africa

Growing Rice, Growing Entrepreneurship in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is famous for its cocoa. But what about its rice?

A young Ivorian entrepreneur and prize winner in an IFC-sponsored business plan competition wants to see locally grown rice served on dinner plates across Africa and around the world. 

Côte d’Ivoire was once a rice exporter, but now imports around 1 million tonnes annually. The West African country, recovering briskly from a civil war, sees agriculture as a major source of growth and job creation, and is seeking to boost rice production.

“We cannot win the loyalty of consumers with bad quality rice,” said Kone Gninlnagnon, whose “Riz Ivoire” business idea will promote rice produced in the heart of Côte d’Ivoire, helping deliver high-quality rice to domestic and – eventually – to international markets as well.

And now, thanks to prize money and training he won in a business plan completion launched with the support of IFC’s Conflict Affected States in Africa Initiative, Kone is one step closer to his dream. 


“In order to be self-sufficient in rice, we must think about the quality of rice,” Kone said. “My dream is to be the number one exporter of premium rice in Côte d’Ivoire.” 

Culture of Entrepreneurship

The start-up competition is part of a wider World Bank Group effort to help foster a culture of entrepreneurship and promote recovery and growth in Côte d’Ivoire, a major regional economy that is working to strengthen and diversify its economy – and to put conflict behind it.

IFC and the World Bank have helped Côte d’Ivoire introduce reforms that will help entrepreneurs like Kone succeed. Regulatory changes that are making it easier to start a business, obtain construction permits, and register property have helped Côte d’Ivoire become a top reformer on the World Bank Group’s Doing Business Report, which ranks the ease of doing business in economies around the world. 

To further help small businesses, IFC supported the creation of a ‘one-stop-shop’ for business registration in Côte d’Ivoire that allows entrepreneurs to register their business in only 48 hours. IFC also helped Côte d’Ivoire establish a Commercial Court, which has brought the time needed to settle many cases down from a frustrating two years to only two months. 

IFC’s ongoing support for Côte d’Ivoire’s reform efforts was reinforced in 2013 when Jean Philippe Prosper, during his first visit to Côte d’Ivoire as IFC Vice President for Africa, signed an agreement with the country’s prime minister to continue and expand the reform process. 

Although good progress has been made, Côte d’Ivoire’s public and private sectors both recognize that more needs to be done. The country is only just beginning a major reform initiative that calls for many more improvements that will support entrepreneurship and small business growth.


 “Côte d’Ivoire is a shining example of how a country can quickly rebuild and reform following conflict,” said Cassandra Colbert, IFC Resident Representative in Côte d’Ivoire. “IFC is committed to supporting Côte d’Ivoire’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its private sector, improve its infrastructure, create jobs, and entrench peace and stability.”

Learn more about IFC’s CASA Initiative, which is supported by donor partners Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway.

Access the latest CASA newsletter, which features an in-depth look at IFC’s activities in Côte d’Ivoire.

Learn more about the Investment Climate Services of the World Bank Group.

Watch this short video of the IFC-sponsored business plan competition and hear Kone discuss his dreams.

First published: 04/28/2014

Updated: 05/10/2014

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