Tips for African Entrepreneurs Looking to Expand Internationally

Statistics released in the African Economic Outlook 2017 report suggest that of the 18 countries in the continent where data was available, the percentage of the working-age population that set up its own companies to tap specific opportunities stood at 11%. The number stands at 5% in Asia and 8% in Latin America, going to show that the entrepreneurial spirit in Africa is alive and kicking.

According to Smallstarter, an online platform where African entrepreneurs get access to ideas and guidance, there are opportunities for the taking across different sectors such as FinTech, renewable energy, food processing, and fashion.  If you, like several other African entrepreneurs, are thinking about testing international waters, doing some groundwork will hold you in good stead.

Develop Your Brand

While there are several young entrepreneurs in Africa with great ideas, not many get the attention they deserve, and one of the main reason for this is poor brand positioning. Before you decide to take your brand overseas, make sure you take time in determining how you wish to tell your story. Focus not just on the product or service you offer, but also on how you plan to sell it.

Get a Local Perspective

Before you think about expanding into any new territory, determine if there is a demand for your products or services. Try not to stick to regions where other African entrepreneurs venture, and instead, look for places where the demand for your offerings is high. For example, if your business deals in metals and minerals, you can turn toward the Indian subcontinent.

Also read: Cash-on-delivery still preferred mode of payment, Jumia Mobile Reports

Take into account that cultural differences might have an effect on your business, and determine if you can take measures to bridge any possible divide. If you don’t feel comfortable operating in a particular market, it is best that you look for other alternatives. Pay attention to the competition you might face, and determine how you will set your business apart.

Build a Strong Team

The most successful people in the world may not be the most intelligent but what they tend to do is build great teams of highly competent individuals. While your employees, at home and in a foreign country, should be proficient in what they do, they should also be dependable and trustworthy. Get your team to focus on specific goals, keep communication channels open, and value every team member.

Think Strategic Partnerships

Growing a business in Africa often involves creating strategic partnerships, in which case you will need to work on a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). While getting into an SPA is relatively easy, getting out of one might be easier said than done. As a result, it is important that you select your partners carefully. Take time to understand how a possible partner operates and look at its core values before you decide to sign any paperwork.

Handle Foreign Currency Exchange Correctly

When you take your business overseas, you will get paid in foreign currencies. You may also have international employees who you might want to pay from your home country. In both cases, you will have to deal with the exchange of currencies. Fortunately, there are several overseas money transfer companies that facilitate payments to and from most African countries. TransferWise and WorldFirst, for instance, provide multicurrency accounts for businesses and online sellers, giving them easy means to hold funds and transact in a number of currencies.


Taking your new business outside of Africa can be fruitful provided you spend time in understanding your target market. Part of the process requires that you analyze your competition, and make sure you have a great team in place.

This article was written by Jon Dela Cruz from iCompareFX

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