If you have businesses in around the world and you haven’t thought of moving into Africa, then you need to reconsider you strategies.
In an article in Foreignaffairs by Shantayanan Devaran and Wolfgang Fengler;
No country or region, meanwhile, has ever reached what the World Bank considers high-income status with low levels of urbanization. African populations have traditionally been mostly rural, but the cities of sub-Saharan Africa are growing at astonishing rates” In 2033, most of Africans will live in cities leading to a great demand for goods and services. The regions GDP has been growing rapidly, averaging five percent a year since 2002. Private capital has now exceeded foreign aid signaling the advent of an economic turnaround. There are more opportunities in Africa now than ever, with an ever increasing population, infrastructural demand would continue leading to the signing of multi-billion dollars contracts in all facet of the economy.
What then are you waiting for, do you need to hear the testimonies of successful businesses enjoying terrific growth rate here before jumping in? Here are quick tip that would guide you in securing your first major contracts here;
Ensure you get all your paper work done
Before you can do any meaningful business in Africa, you have to go through hours filing several applications of several government agencies. This is necessary so that you are in good hands of the law. You might need to be extra careful here because of several con men posing as government officials and agencies. It is advised that you contact a local chambers of commerce who are there to guide investors and businessmen.
Get a reliable business partner
Many African countries have it in their law that a foreign company must partner with a local company in order to protect local businesses. Not only is this required by law it is also wise that foreign business owners partner with individuals or companies who understands the local business environment and can guide them through in making critical decisions. Before choosing any business partner ensure you have done all your research. One way to find business partner is through LinkedIn, there are several trustworthy business owner seeking foreign partnership. Also referral from related companies that have done business here would prove invaluable or simply walk into any of the respective countries’ embassy and ask for legitimate business partners.
Get a small office in the big city
After filing all required documents and forms, you need to settle down to business. You would want to get your office in the state capital where you are assured of relative security or around financial centers like Lagos, Nairobi, and Johannesburg. A decent office somewhere like Lagos would cost you about $10,000-$15,000 per annum or more depending on the location. Getting a good office has become quite easy these days with many real estate marketplaces springing up.
Attend business forums and events
Just like any continent, you would need a lot of networking to get any big contracts here. In Africa the “man no man syndrome” is very strong and favoritism is always visible. Investors and business owners should not rely on their technical expertise alone; you would need someone to bring you into the business table. There are several business events billed all year round, you would need to trickle down to events that are related to your industries and create a reliable calendar for it. When you attend these events be visible and offer genuine assistance to whomever you meet, the only problem you might have is remembering the names, and some names are tongue twisting.
Form close connection with politician
Most investors see African politicians as corrupt, but not all African politicians are. Knowing a good number of them will greatly improve your chances of landing that million dollar contract. Most of the juiciest contracts come from the government and most African business owners know they can’t do without them, so they are constantly swooning around them, who they often dump after the expiration of their tenure or loss of an election. A good way to connect with politicians would be to attend trade fairs, state economic summit or get an invitation through a local business partner to attend several of their occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings etc. Or simply search for clubs or associations they belong to and join, it will cost you some money thou.
Organize free workshop inviting relevant stakeholders
Most business people and government official like to attend workshops and events that would help them grow their businesses. Workshops are very effective way of showcasing your company but can be expensive. When you organize you workshop ensure you invite relevant stakeholders. Pick problems you are familiar with;lecture, inform and show them how certain inefficient processes, difficult challenges could be improved, transformed or changed completely. You could just be a facilitator allowing guest speakers to do the show. You want to select a venue in a very good location that is easily accessible by road. Proper planning should go into making your workshop a success
Don’t wait for that big contract, take the small ones
Many big businesses like to wait for that big contracts passing off many potentially big contracts due to their small size. This is not only illogical, it is unwise. Most clients would often time look at your previous work done to appraise you against others businessmen having tons of local experience. Having nothing to show other than your experience can be a huge setback. Your ability to see a job through no matter the size will lead to bigger opportunities in the future.
Don’t wait for the tender, propose a ready-made solution
Investors and businessmen often like to skim through tender journals, looking for the most suitable work. Most times they end up in frustration following several failed selection. As a businessman looking to hit it big in Africa, you need look beyond the tender journal and look carefully at some of the most pressing challenges facing both private and public institutions in the country and offer a tailor-made and cost effective solution. Most business owners and government officials always like proposals like this.
Sponsor a political candidate
Yes, this sounds unpleasant buts it works like magic. Many upcoming politicians require constant money to fund their political ambition be it in form of rallies, events and coordination. A financial support from you would be great, endearing you into their hearts. This makes you easy pick for juicy state contracts when it’s time for awarding contracts. Some African parties have their own set of ideology as to how much you can contribute to a political candidate; you might want to get familiarized with the party and state laws as regards that. But all in all, tact and diplomacy should be your watchword. As a businessman, it requires good judgment and foresight to be able to spot a winning candidate, and when you find one, be more than just a financial supporter, offer sincere contributions to his ambition and he will never forget you in his kingdom.
Get a good driver
To navigate through the gridlock of African cities you would need a very good driver who knows the nook and cranny of African cities. When selecting a driver, ensure you have done a background check on his history. You might get recommendation from trusted individuals before hiring any driver. The driver should be able to converse in the local dialects and should at least have a school leaver’s certificate.
Doing business in Africa hasn’t been more profitable. Join leading businessmen hitting it big in Africa within one to two years here. I hope you enjoyed the article, you can read more on my blog coffeetimex.
To get more articles on business, entrepreneurship and interesting ideas around the world you can subscribe to my newsletters Coffeeseries.