Business in Africa has huge potential, but often presents a lot of challenges, especially at an operational level. In this article, we will review some of these challenges, meanwhile, examine how entrepreneurs and organizations have been able to circumvent them.
Doing Business In Africa
We often hear the phrase, “It’s better to do business in Africa than in Europe”. But to what extent this phrase depicts the true picture of business opportunities on the continent.
Medium of Communication
In order to do business in the African market, the focus should be given to the medium of communication. Businesses need to sell their product or service offering in the language that is spoken or preferred by the local consumer audience.
If you are not convinced by this statement, then the following statistic shared by the Common Sense advisory might persuade you;
- Around 73% of the consumer audience in the African continent say that they would purchase a product or service if the information is provided in their native language.
- English is spoken as the first language by less than 4% of the African population.
Consumers Prefer Their Native Tongue
These statistics convey only one point, i.e, if the consumer is not understanding what you are telling, the chances that your offer is going to be accepted are very less. Hence, your aim is to ensure that your message is conveyed in the local language.
After creating the content in the language of the audience, the next step is to localize the message for adaptation.
Choose Localization over Translation
The translation is a simple word-to-word substitution from one language to another. Whereas, localization is inculcating the cultural nuances, intricacies, and linguistic preferences in the text so that the consumer can relate to your brand.
How To Become Successful In The African Market
Some of the biggest businesses of the African market have incorporated localization to attain success there. The following are some of the key factors that they have utilized to conquer Africa’s economy.
Taking Assistance From A Local Language Service Provider
The success of a business depends upon the turnaround time for its projects. If your organization takes assistance from a local African language service provider, the turnaround time for your projects would be less. Moreover, your efficiency and effectiveness would increase as well.
A local LSP would help you with the relevant local terminologies. Moreover, an insight into what markets would be best suited for your brand would help you save a lot of time.
Improving The Quality of Translations
Not every local language service provider can generate quality content for your brand. Hence, it’s imperative for you to choose the one that provides translations up to par.
Often translation services, especially business translation agencies provide impeccable localization services as well. They have machine translation software and other mechanisms that allow them to preserve the databases for the local language.
So it becomes easy to complete translation projects within a short period of time. Meanwhile, maintaining the quality as well.
Nonetheless, one should still verify to see that the professional translator or the service has a proven track record of satisfied clients.
Tailoring For The Africans
Localizing products does not limit to just making the consumer understand what you are selling, but also being able to grasp the cultural specificity of the market.
Moreover, if your offering does not match the perception and consumer’s way of thinking, it is very hard to make an impression.
If you want to learn how an African thinks, then partnering with a local service provider would be the best option. He will provide you with the relevant information pertaining to what makes Africans excited about a product or service. And who knows Africans more than Africans?
So do not waste time trying to figure this out by yourself. Get Help!
Role of Globalization In Ameliorating African Business
With the advent of technology and the interdependence of world communities, we are seeing the world has become a global village. Investments from Multinational Companies, around the world, have increased in Africa. The warmth that they receive from the African community surely plays a big role in that.
But the inter-African trade is not at the level that it is supposed to be. There is a skill deficit within the workforce. And it’s very hard to find the right person for the right job.
The freedom to trade easily is also not given. The environment is extremely regulated from a banking point of view. And if you want to convert your currency, you have to apply to the central bank. So this is just an overview of the complex business environment.
Let’s discuss these challenges discretely;
The complexity of Business Investment In Africa
The African continent is extremely diverse and disparate. Hence, a number of challenges greet investors who are willing to penetrate the market.
The Challenge of Doing Business In The Republic of Malawi
We can take the example of the Republic of Malawi. They are undergoing a currency crisis.
A Large number of global companies are scaling back their operations in the state, due to the paramount scarcity of foreign currency. Consequently, firms have to wait for an entire year just to get paid. This makes the structuring of contracts and deals even more complicated.
Vibrant East Africa
On the other hand, we see that East Africa is highly spirited. Hence, it is uncomplicated to conduct business over there, relative to West Africa.
Nonetheless, Africa definitely has potential. Its billion-dollar consumer market. And in a few years, we will be seeing the advent of the middle class.
Engaging the Local Market
Organizations that are penetrating the African market are advised to get a local partner for themselves. The local partner will guide you about the ins and outs of the industry. What product or service offering will sit well with the consumer, and what will not work in the African market.
Moreover, the knowledge pertaining to the cultural nuances and linguistic preferences of a particular market can only be known by the locals of the region. Hence, partnering with one will help you steer your way through the African market.
Variations Within The African Market
There is no guarantee that your service or product will work the same way as it did in a different African state. Every market is different, along with the variation in local languages.
In this scenario, it’s better to take assistance from professional translation services. They will not only translate your content but will localize it for the market as well.
Issues involving the monetary policies and how one can apply to the central bank are quite complicated. One needs assistance. And locals businessmen are the ones that can help you tackle the government issues in the African market.
Meanwhile, your content can be localized for the general public by business translation services.
Moreover, locals not only help you with bypassing the barriers to market entry but also educate you on the cultural values of the society.
How To Find Local Partners In Africa?
Experts proclaim that one should seek to get business from Africa first, rather than vice versa. This will allow corporations to seek the best local skills that fit their work mandate.
After doing some business projects will the local partners, it will help you assess the association and chemistry. Once that is tested, firms can ensure whether the local partner is a good fit for them or not.
The Right Fit
If the fit is good, the companies can proceed to conduct a joint venture with them. And ensure that the working relationship carries on in the long term.
Long-term business relationships will sustain if companies invest in facilitating the skill development of the employees as well. This will prepare the next generation of skilled workers in Africa. And will also diminish the prevalent skill deficits.
Design-Build Operate Transfer
A lot of the companies develop training programs. One is called “ Design-Build Operate Transfer”. It means that once you actually create or design a solution, you help the client or partner to operate that solution. And then transfer the skills locally to be able to maintain and support them.
Assessment of The Skills Pool In the African Continent
Things are changing very quickly in this domain. With the advent of the Internet and the general interest in the field of computers and technology, the African continent is seeing a lot of rising talent.
They may lack a significant amount of experience, but the youth is very talented. All they need is the right amount of education and guidance.
However, the skill pool in Africa is short and limited. And companies that invest in the region want that same pool of talent, which makes things a bit complicated. It raises the cost of doing business, considering the scarcity of skilled labor.
On the other hand, we are seeing that a lot of Nigerians are coming back to their home after studying and acquiring skills from European countries and companies. And this actually ameliorates the entrepreneurial mindset of the locals, which ultimately improves the economy as well.
It doesn’t matter which market you are trying to enter, it’s always preferable to plan for the future.
A lot of companies start with few markets, but as they became successful, they translate their offerings into multiple languages. And penetrate more markets.
Similarly, if one wants to establish their business operations in the African market, one has to think beyond translation. And think about catering to the specific needs and wants of the local people.
Rather than offering multiple products, pick one thing that can actually help resolve a problem being faced by the African people. And then focus on expanding it to other African regions.
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