Absolutely false! In his book “Le chemin de Hiala” published in 1994, the businessman narrates that born in 1926, in Badjoun, in the West-Cameroon province, he left school at 15 years to work on farms in Foumbot and Bafang. At the time, the cash crops were coffee, cocoa, tomato, but not groundnut… Starting from 1947, he opens a shopping centre in Mbalmayo.
With his business growing, he branches out after 1960 into public transport. And, in partnership with French Pierre Castel, big boss at Brasseries et Glacières Internationales (BGI) he invests in wine and spirits import. Some years later, another French man, Jacques Lacombe, then Managing Director of Société Industrielle et Forestière des Allumettes (SIFA), a subsidiary of Compagnie du Midi, introduces him to the industry. With the support of this former Polytechnique student, who passed away in 1996, Victor Fotso gradually expanded his activities.
Owner in 1970 of the modest Société de Fabrication de Cahiers (Safca – copybook manufacturing company), he finds himself a quarter of a century later, at the head of about ten companies in various sectors: electric batteries (Pilcam), hospitality (Ibis Douala), matches (Unalor and CIS), packaging (Fabasem), chemistry (Fermencam), agro-industry (Proleg), food (Sopral). In 1997, Victor Fotso creates Commercial Bank of Cameroon (CBC-Bank), first independent establishment in Cameroon.
Since the imprisonment of the one he had chosen to lead his empire (Yves Michel Fotso incarcerated in December 2010 following a case of misappropriation of public funds), we have very little information on the Fotso group which was still posting in 2008 a turnover of FCfa 450 billion.