The best African market for your business will vary greatly depending on your product or service and your risk profile among other things. However, as with any potential export opportunity in a new market, it’s important to do your homework and think carefully about risk management.
Tips for companies thinking about exploring opportunities in Africa:
- Go there. Don’t assume you know what Africa is like. If you have never been there and seen it with your own eyes you must go.
- Test it out by dipping your toes first before a deep dive. You learn a lot more by dipping your toes in than you would through desktop research.
- Manage risks – Like with any overseas venture, consider all possibilities and protect yourself.
- Obtain expert advice when planning to enter into the market. The countries that were British colonies can offer the easiest entry points as English is a common language plus there are similarities with the legal and business systems. However, these countries tend to be more developed with lower growth rates and sometimes fewer opportunities available. South Africa can be perceived as an easy avenue into the continent but it may not necessarily be the best option. Really look at your markets of interest in their entirety and consider the broader parameters – political, economic, social, market trends – before deciding you entry point.
- Be patient in building the business. You need to understand the African concept of time and don’t rush into your first business relationship.
- You need to have the ability to improvise and to be flexible in your approach.
- Pick the right entry strategy – do your own market research.
- Understand your customer – consumer preferences vary greatly across the continent so don’t go with a blanket approach.
- Ensure you have really good people on the ground.