Startup Studios

Changing Venture Creation in Africa

The story of the first startup studio in French-speaking Africa focused on mobile technology.

The story of the first startup studio in French-speaking Africa focused on mobile technology.

by: Steve Hayton|

January 31, 2023

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Articles | Startup Studios | Changing Venture Creation in Africa

“A startup that is actually solving the right problem can have a significant impact on millions of people” – Leslie Ossete, Mstudio

The ‘M’ in ‘Mstudio’ stands for mobile because founders, Leslie Ossete and Cédric Mangaud, believe that mobile technology is the key to societal change in Africa. Based out of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, this new studio is bringing a fresh approach to studio operations in a geographic location that is primed and ready for a boom in economic growth.

The Founders

After Leslie Ossete finished her undergraduate in the US, she raised $1m and launched her very first startup, BuuPass, an online bus, train, and flight ticketing platform that has transformed bus travel by bringing ease and convenience to millions of travelers. 

“Most of my career has been working to improve conditions in the informal market. The informal sector makes up about 80% of many African countries. I’ve seen firsthand that if you do have a startup that is actually solving the right problem for the mass market, you can have a significant impact on millions of people. So the idea of continuing to create startups in that direction seemed like a logical progression for me.”

She connected with serial entrepreneur Cédric Mangaud over LinkedIn and shortly after they set to work creating Mstudio. Cedric has had an international career spanning twenty years in the mobile telephony and telecommunications sectors, notably EVP content & mobile service at HTC Group Taiwan. If that wasn’t enough Cédric is also a successful business angel with strong financing capabilities and several exits to his name. 

“It’s not like we are addressing a narrow market, we are addressing the largest one. That includes people that are unregistered, only paying by cash, no digital activity, no transaction activity or tracking of transactions, no financial institution, no health protection, no Social Security. We are targeting the bottom of the pyramid, such as small holder farmers, informal kiosk owners, gig workers, etc.”

“It’s so important today, one child out of two in the world will be born in Africa by 2050. If all these babies are born into a world where the economy is mostly informal and fragmented, then we will have big problems.”

"Africa will be the most populated continent in 2050 and the informal sector is the place to welcome this demographic growth."

Cédric Mangaud, CEO and Co-founder, Mstudio

How is Mstudio set up?

Mstudio is structured as a dual entity with the studio separated from a sidecar fund. Investors invest directly into the startups rather than the studio.

Cedric said; “For the moment we’ve put enough money into the studio so we don’t need any investment. But investors are super important because they are helping us not only identify trends but also send entrepreneurs our way. The ones that are too early for them but can still be an opportunity for us.”

“In exchange, we are giving them two things; firstly, we are offering them access to our ‘VC Cafe’ within our office where they have free coffee and a dedicated meeting space. It means they don’t need to have an office in Abidjan, many of them are nowhere near Ivory Coast. Secondly, we can build a deal flow for them. It’s like we’re able to show them the answers to the exam before they take the test.”

Leslie added; “Because of the geography we are in, there is already a lack of investment-ready opportunities. I think the VCs are much more open to our business model than in America where it’s much easier for them to find exceptional individual founders to invest in. Here in French-speaking Africa, a market that they are highly interested in, they will rely more on us to prepare a quality deal flow for them to invest into over the next two, three, or four years.”

Cedric said; “We are a young studio, we are just at the beginning, but I’d be really happy to be challenged on the way we are doing it versus how Enhance is doing it, versus how Builders is doing it, how PSL is doing it. Here the relationship with VCs is more cooperative than in other parts of the world and it’s really exciting to see what opportunities will come from it.”

Mstudio is the first mobile startup studio for French Speaking West Africa.

Mstudio launches startups that transform the informal sector. They are convinced that the informal sector, which represents more than 80% of the local economy, must be structured to accommodate new generations and that the “startup” vehicle, being more agile, is the best way to change society.

To do this, they recruit the best entrepreneurs to create startups that are mobile-based and that meet the needs of the informal sector.

They support and finance these startups to bring them to an international level and raise funds up to series A.


Agriculture, Education, Environmental, Social Impact


, Abidjan,