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- Five Key Strategies to Launching Your Business in Africa
Posted by : Amanda Stein Thursday, December 5, 2013
As an area for launching new businesses, Africa holds the unique position of offering wonderful areas and many contacts with both African-centered commerce and companies who have placed locations abroad. The best part about starting a business in Africa is that you will be able to get your foot in the door with one of the places that is growing at an extremely fast rate. Not only will you be able to find cheap labor, but you will also be able to find a large number of people that are willing to purchase your products and services. Business strategists like Mark Bouri have succeeded in Africa by understanding the nature of business within the continent, which can sometimes be unique when compared to most other places in the world. Here are just a few strategies to help entrepreneurs place themselves on the road to success with a new business in Africa.
1. Understand the history of the country in Africa to which you are going to launch your business
Just as a business centered in Bologna may have different challenges than one centered in London, and one business in Berlin might have totally separate challenges to one in Paris, so too can the city and country within Africa where you choose to launch a business have its own unique environment and challenges. This is why it is important to understand the history of the country to which you are going: As a country, Mali may have quite different business methods than South Africa, for example, and vice-verse. How business works in one country may be different in another, which is essential to know when you are planning to setup your business somewhere within this large continent.
2. Know the social dynamic you'll be working with
Different African countries can have different social dynamics, and this can mean that conducting business may have different connotations for different clients. In countries where matrilineal structures are in place, in which women might conduct more business than men, or where familial ties determine business contacts, educating oneself on how networking systems work and making key contacts can do wonders for a business. For this reason, it is important that you hire a local professional before you move your business to a specific country. This professional will be able to properly work with the government and others in order to ensure a successful launch of your business.
3. Plan a vacation for the country you're hoping to work in
One of the best ways to get to know a region for business is to have fun there. Plan a week-long vacation in the country or city and really get to know the people in the place your company will have its setting. See how other businesses are run and speak to business owners, and you will undoubtedly get a sense of how you might add to an economy with the right product. A short vacation might also give you the opportunity to find a specific region of the country where you should establish your business.
4. Understand the climate where you'll be
As a continent, Africa primarily ranges North to South (as compared to North America's or Europe's East to West) and as such has many, many different climates even within the span of a few hundred miles. South Africa can resemble the seasons experienced by Europe; Mali can have the scorching temperatures of a Saharan landscape. Climate can do much to affect the product you'll be creating; if you're in a place with seasonal flooding, don't expect your computer business to last long! Conversely, if you're in a place without much rainfall, you may find that supplying bottled water to a city is a huge earner.
5. Understand the economy of the country where you'll conduct business
A humorous scene in the classic memoir-novel "Out of Africa" by Karen Blixen notes that when the author arrived in Africa to meet her husband, she found that he had invested all the family's money in raising coffee beans. This would be fine if the land they owned were good for raising coffee, but they quickly found that it would have been better for raising livestock.
What this lesson can tell business owners in Africa is is to look for supply, demand, and region. If you're planning on raising coffee plants, so much the better, as Africa has many wonderful places to do so. Just remember to know that you're in the right place, and your business will prosper. Africa is a place of many dynamic cultures and many dynamic environments. Being a business-owner in Africa is a lot like being a Navy pilot. As soon as you understand the dynamics of the airspace you'll be traveling through, you'll do fine.