Africa consists of more than 50 countries, with over 1 billion people speaking somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 different languages (not to mention 8,000 dialects) and using over 45 different currencies! So, it’s easy to see why doing business in Africa might seem overwhelming to many US businesses. However, realizing this rich diversity across African nations is the first step toward building a successful business strategy. The second step is to identify and focus on those specific markets within Africa that offer the best opportunities for your products or services.
That was one of the topics of discussion at a training workshop last week entitled, “Africa’s Markets of Opportunity” which attracted more than 125 Washington D.C. area businesses active in, or considering, African markets. The workshop was organized by ISI Consultants in support of the Small Business Administration, Howard University and the District of Columbia government, to help businesses learn about the different markets and key industries across Africa that offer opportunities for U.S. companies.
As well as hearing from experts about the elements of building an export marketing plan, international trade finance and international logistics, attendees were introduced to a variety of Federal and local government resources available to help them establish and grow their exports to African markets. However, according to many, the highlight was a discussion panel made up of business leaders from local companies who have already built successful export business with African markets. They were able to share insights on the keys to their success, such as thorough research on competitors as well as the political, cultural and business environment in target countries, in addition to best practices on overcoming some of the common obstacles to business in the region.
But the best piece of advice came from one of the panelists who confessed that while there are many opportunities for U.S. businesses in the various African markets, it can also be frustrating at times for people not familiar with the local way of doing things or used to the slower pace of business compared to the U.S. His advice from many years doing business in Kenya, was to remind himself of the often quoted, local phrase “hakuna mutata”, which roughly translates as “don’t worry, be happy”. Now, that sounds like good advice that everyone can benefit from!
ISI Consultants assists U.S. companies to enter or further expand their business in Middle East and African markets. From small projects to longer-term engagements, we put our knowledge and experience to work for you, saving you time and money and minimizing your risk. And our results-oriented approach means we don’t just advise you on what to do to be successful – we work with you to get it done
As part of our commitment to the National Export Initiative (NEI), ISI Consultants offer a limited number of COMPLIMENTARY STRATEGY SESSIONS each month to qualified U.S. companies.