Doing Business In Africa Part 4: Growing Right Before Our Eyes

Doing Business In Africa Part 4: Growing Right Before Our Eyes

This is the 4th post in a continuation on "Why Business in Africa: 27 Reasons Why You Should Be Doing Business With The World's Largest Emerging Market." (click here to see the other posts) 

21. Import/export trade intra-Africa is beginning to open. As each individual African nation starts jumping online, shipping lanes will open up, import/export between nations will increase, and intra-African trade will boom. In order to be a part of that—you'd need to be there now. 

22. A new view on foreign aid is surfacing. Sure, Africa needs a lot of help—you see people starving on TV commercials, you hear about AIDS–all of those are real problems that are being addressed. But who better to address them than the actual African people? I'm not going to get into a foreign aid discussion here, but handouts are just that. Handouts create a entitlement mentality. However, if you use a organization like Kiva ($25 small business loans) or partner with someone like the Acumen Fund and start empowering women and men to live their business ideas out—you can have a part in empowering Africa to solve Africa's problems. They need help, but let's not cripple them by throwing exorbitant amounts of cash at corrupt governments who pocket it for their own deeds. 

23. African markets in the world's major markets. Don't want to go to Africa? That's okay, my understanding is that you'll be able to play Africa on the NYSE soon. 

24. Green Technology Potential is limitless. A few months back, I had a request in my inbox from a company looking for solar panel suppliers from the US. This company had raised $10 million USD and were looking for a manufacturer partner to send the proper solar panels into Southern Africa. Just think, using Africa's greatest resource (the Sun) to power its communities. Brilliant. 

25. Growth in every sector aided by modern tech. Everything is sprucing up and increasing in technology, whether it's home builders using new methods and techniques (think drywall vs concrete), businesses employing new marketing strategies (engagement and connection versus traditional and direct mail, the mail system is another story), mobile marketing campaigns, agricultural data being sent to mobile phones so farmers can get the best prices for their crops (no more rip offs and farmers out of luck and business), hospital technologies and capabilities rapidly increasing—just goes to show you, Africa is preparing for explosive growth in every field and arena.

26. Entrepreneurship runs deep in Africa. Last time I was in Southern Africa, I stayed with a man who was a former farmer. His farm had been taken from him illegally but because he was of a different race, the government allowed it to happen. Everything he and his father and his grandfather had worked for was stripped away in a single week. However, this man, rather than quitting and throwing in the towel, developed an idea to grow worms and harvest them to replenish the soil. He became a worm farmer. So where the farms had been run ragged and the ground depleted of all of the minerals (because of people stealing farms who weren't farmers and then farming the land incorrectly), he is now able to turn that ground into fertile, rich, renewed soil! His "Make a plan" attitude is paying off. He now has worm farms popping up all over the countryside...and he's planning to export to the surrounding nations soon. All with less than $500 capital invested initially. 

27. Foreign Direct Investment is moving quickly into Africa. China has already caught wind of this investment opportunity and have purchased multiple mines, land and companies...(also take a look at this article: China, Friend or Foe?) I could go on and on and tell story after story, give you reason after reason, but here's the deal: If you're thinking about doing business in Africa just because it's all about the money, then go somewhere else. Africa is a completely different market—it's all about relationships. You have to know people, you have to be connected. If not, you'll lose everything you have. But if you want to be a part of something that rarely comes around (an untapped world market), then start learning about Africa and the opportunities it holds. Developed nations and their businesses can do so much to train and begin raising up Africans to enact change in their own countries. This certainly isn't a call to overnight success or instantaneous change. But by partnering with the business community locally in individual African nations, you can begin to taste the richness of Africa, grow your business, but also shift and change your own life. No doubt about it, Africa will change you. It will knock you down time and again. But for those who have a heart to see people empowered and rising in the world, then Africa is the place to be in the upcoming years.

This is Africa's century.

Start building something that will last generations. What are your thoughts? When you think of Africa what thoughts/emotions are evoked in you? If you are not yet doing business in Africa, would you ever consider doing so? Why or why not? Leave your comments below.

featured photo by Damien du Toit