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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Five productive initiatives the Cape Verde government can pursue to attract more US investors

Here is my top 5 list of ideas for attracting serious investors and serious investments into Cape Verde. Each requires action on the part of the government:

  1. US Travel Agencies. Reach out to the US travel agent industry through its associations and conventions. Get some representatives from the Cape Verde tourism ministry in front of a large number of US travel agents. Provide all-expense paid working vacations to 10-20 influential travel agents and travel writers to allow them to check out all that Cape Verde has to offer. US tourists will surely follow. And where ever Americans go, their investment dollars are also sure to go.
  2. US Road Shows. A "road show" covering strategic locations across the US using "intimate" conference settings - focused presentations to small groups of serious potential investor candidates drawn from the target industries with high-potential investment opportunities in Cape Verde. The agenda should cover topics related strictly to the investment opportunities and the infrastructure and incentives related to those opportunities. Embedding elements of a cultural extravaganza into these investment agendas would be highly unproductive for serious US business people.
  3. Creative Financing Strategies <<= A separate blog post describes this in detail (click on the "Creative Financing Strategies" link to the left). A tactic shared among US small business investors is to leverage other people's money. US investors are always looking for assistance to leverage themselves - they have big ideas which require "big money." Without providing direct loans, the Cape Verde government could engage in creative financing that would assist investors source large amounts of investment capital by allowing investors to "bank" on the governments credit. The government could also earn a substantial fee for "renting out" its balance sheet at minimal risk of credit related losses.
  4. Advertise Directly to US Entrepreneurs. There are two US based magazines that are highly regarded among US entrepreneurs. One is Inc. magazine and the other is Entrepreneur magazine. A series of well placed advertisements could have tremendous potential in getting attention from potential investors. A special advertising section that include coverage by reporters of the magazine could also be arranged for the right price.
  5. Marketing American Style. The Cape Verde government should call upon marketing talent that is based in the US but has Cape Verdean roots. People who understand the psyche on both sides of the Atlantic, and who are able to incorporate social media and other modern modes of outreach. They must also be able to address the US audience in perfectly fluent English. This is important to Americans if they are to be hooked and drawn in. It is not a commentary on language skills, but speaks to the reality of the American consumer.

When you think about all of the ideas presented above, every single one of them comes down to marketing. Cape Verde should identify those Cape Verdeans in the US who possess such marketing skills in the US context, along with the ability to communicate fluently in both Portuguese and English. It is not sufficient to engage marketing firms based in Cape Verde. They are extremely talented - I have seen many examples of the work of Cape Verde's marketing experts. But unless the principals involved are entirely familiar with "the US context", the marketing efforts may not be successful.

Interestingly, the suggested initiatives require only minor outlays from the government and produce a very high rate of return on the dollar spent. The manner in which the government could manage these initiatives is by setting appropriate goals. For example, "For every $X million spent on outreach, secure $Y million of US investments in specified industries to generate a potential net addition of $Z contribution to net GDP." Benchmarks could then be established to measure and mange the efficacy of any initiative undertaken before large sums of money are spent. Such benchmarks would be used to hold people accountable for results.

So, there you have it. But ... here is the best idea of all - I'd be happy to work on behalf of the Cape Verde government here in the US to find the talent, coordinate with the targeted US networks of investors, and execute these outreach strategies. It's a tough job, working on behalf of an island paradise nation and having to travel there ... but somebody's got to do it!

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