Jean-Louis Billon, Ivory Coast's Minister of Commerce, is a prominent business figure in Ivory Coast. He was ranked as Marcopolis' #3 most powerful business leader in the country.
While many politicians in Ivory Coast are older, mostly in their seventies, Jean-Louis Billon is considered a relatively young prominent leader in his home country. At 49, he is Ivory Coast's Minister of Commerce and former President of Ivory Coast's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Jean-Louis Billon is one of the few government leaders who believe in a free market and liberal political and economic values. Billon got his start in economics when he joined the family cocoa exporting businesses, SIFCA. His father, Pierre Billon was a business tycoon and a close confidant of Ivory Coast's founding father Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Two damaging military conflicts and nearly 20 years of political and civil instability wrenched the economy so when in 2012 Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara summoned Billon to take over the Ministry of Commerce, Craft and SME Promotion, the burden to turn around the economy was big.
In the 1970's and 1980's, Ivory Coast was widely known as a miracle economy because it bounced back from years of instability and economic fluctuation. The agricultural sector remains the leading sector and economic booster for the country. SIFCA employs 25,000 people, grows, processes and markets palm oil. Minister Billon's relative youth and business expertise has earned him respect among foreign investors and diplomats who want to invest in Abidjan. With a more liberal mindset than his peers, Billon calls for lower taxes and stronger anti-trust laws. As Minister of Commerce, this isn't Billon's first position in politics. He was elected Mayor of his father's native village back in 2011 and took authority against the former President, Laurent Gbagbo, and the rebels who controlled the northern half of the country. As a person who has expertise in economic and political matters, Billon is seen as a promising leader in a country that is developing rapidly.