Kwazulu-Natal Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Sep 2011

AFRICA: Africa is Not for Sissies


Recent Kwazulu-Natal Business News

As one of the few remaining untapped markets in the world, Africa has come on to the radar of many international companies looking for additional revenues and a competitive advantage. However, the process of doing business in Africa is different to anywhere else in the world, and can prove difficult for the uninitiated. Understandably, organisations are turning to large repositories of data to uncover trends, statistics, and other actionable information to help decide on their next move, and are finding that the data available about African companies is usually patchy, at best.

Data is the lifeblood of commercial activity, and the fastest, simplest, and most cost-effective way to achieve a comprehensive understanding of a target market, and the details of the individuals responsible for making purchasing decisions within that audience, is purchasing a clean, well-managed and well-maintained database from a third-party database provider. In Africa and the Middle East, where emerging economies are growing rapidly, obtaining corporate data remains difficult due to the fact that businesses in these countries operate differently to those in established economies. International organisations looking to do business in Africa are finding a confusion of information, and many have been burned by buying databases with incorrect or incomplete information.

The Continual Growth of African Business

“While many African countries are growing exponentially, the growth is coming off miniscule bases, making an understanding of where a particular company in a particular country is economically very difficult for anyone who has not had experience of how African business works,” explains Louise Robinson, Sales Director of CG Consulting. “The UN and the World Bank are continually pumping money into the continent to improve and boost infrastructure – physical and IT – but that infrastructure remains unreliable in many cases.”

She adds that doing business in Africa is very different to anywhere else in the world. “It’s a long and expensive exercise. You have to have a great sense of humour and lots of patience, especially since everything works on Africa time. Bandwidth, language and public holidays are a problem for companies who expect operations similar to the kind they have become used to elsewhere in the world. These factors all contribute to a confusing array of opportunities and obstacles, which have resulted in a general reluctance on the part of any but the largest companies in doing business in Africa,” she says.

African – Full of Opportunities

However, Africa is full of untapped opportunities. With a solution provider who has a foothold on the continent and who has an excellent understanding of all of the factors relevant to doing business in this complex environment, the prospects are endless. “Our foundation in South Africa has allowed us to help our clients overcome these obstacles with accurate and up-to-date databases for businesses across the continent, and we have a good understanding of the markets and their needs,” Robinson says.

“We have core data of the top companies and government departments for all 52 countries in Africa –across all verticals and sectors, including the telecom, banking, finance, manufacturing mining, automotive, oil, gas and energy, IT and healthcare sectors. We have also developed executive summaries with e-mail addresses in 20 companies with branch and PC count, basic IT product information, and bandwidth information, so our clients are aware of exactly what type of business they are dealing with.”

As with business anywhere, networking in Africa is vital. Getting to the right people will make or break any business opportunity, because making a sale comes down to how good a lead is. After all, the fresher and higher-quality the lead is, the better the chances are, and if all the leads available on a database are filled with the relevant data needed in making a sale, the chances of succeeding in the sale are higher.

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