Burkina Faso - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution & Sales Channels
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Distribution and sales channels are concentrated in Burkina Faso’s two largest cities - Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.  Secondary urban areas could be considered for distribution of consumables such as dairy products, edible oils, and batteries, although they are already well served by the country’s two largest cities.  Distribution and sales entities operate under various forms, ranging from modern mini-markets, shops, and warehouses to informal sector market stands.

Most goods imported into Burkina Faso arrive via truck from one of three ports: Lomé, Togo; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; or Tema, Ghana.  The country’s only rail line runs from Abidjan to Ouagadougou.  Goods traveling by rail from Abidjan take on average seven days to reach Ouagadougou.

Using an Agent to Sell US Products and Services

There is no law in Burkina Faso requiring retention of an Agent/Distributor, but this is recommended.  Selecting a capable local agent could be critical to the successful introduction of U.S. products into a market traditionally dominated by French and Chinese goods.

There are a limited number of businesspeople in Burkina Faso with the practical experience and financial capacity necessary to form a partnership with a U.S. firm.  Most are active in import/export or local commerce.  When selecting a local agent or business partner, keep in mind that many are involved in a wide range of business activities and often put less immediate demands aside.  U.S. businesses are advised to speak with and, when possible, visit with their local agents regularly to ensure that agents understand their companies’ expectations.

Establishing an Office

According to the 2018 Doing Business report prepared by the World Bank, it takes 13 days and three procedures to register a limited liability company, known in French as a Société à Responsabilité Limitée (SARL).  The process includes the deposit of $10 capital in a local bank and registering at Centre des Formalités des Entreprises (CEFORE) for company registration, tax number (IFU), labor, and social security.  The CEFOREs are located in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya, Tenkodogo, Koudougou, Fada N’Gourma, Kaya, Dedougou and Gaoua.

Burkina Faso’s regulations governing the establishment of businesses include most forms of companies admissible under French business law.  These include public corporations, limited liability companies, limited share partnerships, sole proprietorships, subsidiaries, and affiliates of foreign enterprises.  With each of these options, there is a corresponding set of related preferences, duty exceptions, corporate tax exemptions, and operation-related taxes.

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.


There are franchising opportunities in Burkina Faso.  There are U.S. car rental, car dealership, and freight forwarding franchises operating in Burkina Faso.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is a possible tool, especially for selling to wholesalers (e.g. pharmaceutical), but it is used infrequently in Burkina Faso.  In the case of foreign party bids, a competing U.S. firm should hire a local contact for direct follow-up.

Joint Ventures/Licensing

The Burkinabe business community is very open to joint ventures with foreign investors in the food processing, construction, tourism, and cosmetics industries.

Express Delivery

Express delivery service is provided by companies such as, DHL, Chronopost, UPS, and Fedex.

Due Diligence

It is important to carefully investigate all business ventures before entering into any kind of transaction.  This is particularly true as the number of advance-fee gold scams has multiplied in recent years.  Also, as Burkina Faso is an emerging market, there are few private Burkinabe companies with the level of experience and expertise often sought by U.S. companies.

To help American exporters formulate sound credit policies applicable to local markets, credit information on individual Burkinabe firms can be obtained by requesting an International Company Profile (ICP) through the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service.