Benin’s population is concentrated in the southern part of the country, particularly in greater Cotonou and surrounding areas. Retailers and consumers typically cluster in established public markets. The Dantokpa market in Cotonou is one of the largest markets in West Africa and is a central location for wholesalers and retailers alike. Eighty percent of imports to Benin are estimated to be re-exported to Nigeria through informal networks; this reality remains a significant component of local commerce.
The Port of Cotonou is a major gateway to Nigeria, and to landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Chad. Cargo arriving in the Port is transported by road on trucks to various local and neighboring destinations. Benin’s road linking the Port of Cotonou to the Togolese border is in good condition. The Government of Benin is in the process of renovating its roads linking the Port of Cotonou to Niger and Burkina Faso.
Benin’s population is concentrated in the southern part of the country, particularly in greater Cotonou and surrounding areas. Retailers and consumers typically cluster in established public markets. Beninese-owned business feature in the wholesale sector, however it is largely dominated by third country owned businesses from Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and China. The Dantokpa market in Cotonou is one of the largest markets in West Africa and is central location for wholesalers and retailers alike. Eight percent of imports to Benin are estimated to be re-exported to Nigeria through informal networks and remain a significant component of local commerce.
Using an Agent to Sell U.S. Products and Services
- U.S. companies considering entering the Beninese market, particularly if they have not previously done business in the region, should consider working with a reputable agent or distributor who is fluent in both French and English and familiar with local business practices. Having documentation and literature in French about the products or services is advisable.
- The U.S. Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Section may help U.S. companies identify suitable partners by conducting due diligence research through fee-based services payable to U.S. Foreign Commercial Service in Lagos, Nigeria.
Establishing an Office
- Documents for business startup submitted to Benin’s “one-stop window” for business creation include a certified copy of applicant’s identify card and a criminal record check. Additional information may be found at https://monentreprise.bj/ . Foreign investors opening a bank account in Benin must also obtain a resident permit from Benin’s Immigration Service. If the company to be incorporated is a branch of a foreign company, the above-mentioned documents will need to include the names of the local board of directors.
Using an Agent or Distributor
Include typical use of agents and distributors and how to find a good partner. Indicate if use of an agent or distributor is legally required.
Establishing an Office
See above under U.S. firms. In addition, for the latest Investment Climate Statement (ICS) which includes information on investment and business environments in foreign economies pertinent to establishing and operating an office and to hiring employees, visit the U.S. Department of Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements website.
At present, franchising is limited in Benin, with current franchises existing in the car rental, hotel, and food industries.
Employing direct marketing techniques in Benin may not be viable due to limited fixed-line telecommunications and postal infrastructure. However, advertising and communications companies, mobile phone providers and some TV programs may offer services for direct marketing.
U.S. and Beninese companies may form joint ventures to participate in the privatization or divestiture of state-owned companies, or in public procurements. With the assistance of a notary, a joint venture should be registered with the court registrar and published in the official gazette, the public daily newspaper “La Nation.” Due diligence on the potential partner is always advised.
There are only two official express delivery firms in the country: Top Chrono and DHL. Their service covers the entire country. Commercial quantity imports are subject to customs clearance and payment of import duty.
Advise companies on need to perform appropriate due diligence on their business partners and agents [and in what areas it is necessary for a U.S. company]. Include information on Commercial Service International Company Profile service (ICP).