Jean AbiNader writes on Devex about the people-centric approach to doing business in Africa:
What’s the most important element to consider when getting started with investment in Africa?
There’s really only one answer: people.
In Africa, business is personal in a variety of senses, and it’s crucial to be aware of the connections one must make with people during every step of the investment process. Here are the various ways in which developing connections with people is at the core of business in Africa.
Upon entry: Connecting for insight
One of the most important steps in exploring overseas markets to is where to get your information. That aspect of planning is all the more important in Africa. When new to the continent’s business environment, be sure to listen to people who have been to your investment destination. successful or not in their business venture, it’s valuable to ask them about their experience in the country.
Furthermore, make sure to think broadly when seeking advice; look beyond your own sector, and consult U.S. commercial officers in your target market. Participating in organizations that bridge business between Africa and the international private sector is also important because of those organizations’ multiplier effects for experience and knowledge.
Research shows that most American companies in frontier markets base their decisions more on word of mouth than official studies, and truthfully, that approach makes sense. There’s no replacement for personal experience in African business. Important opportunities may be overlooked if you limit your company’s due diligence to traditional sources of information…[Full Article]