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Friday, November 18, 2016

How to Do Business in Africa -- and Why You Should Get Started Right Away!

Entrepreneur doing business in Africa

There are a lot of reasons why you should want to do business in Africa, which by the way is made up of 55 countries and home to 1.2 billion people.

First of all, U.S. trade to and from Africa has tripled over the past decade, and U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa has now topped $21 billion. Secondly, Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing countries in the world. And finally, the International Monetary Fund projects sub-Saharan Africa to grow between 5 and 6 percent each year over the next two years.
What countries in Africa are the most business-friendly?

According to a recent article on CNN.com, the following African countries are the top 5 best ones to do business in:

#1 - Mauritus: Because it's positioned in the Indian Ocean with strong cultural and commercial links to India, China and the east coast of Africa. The country has always used its geographical location and legacy as a trading waystation to become an investment hub. The country routinely tops African rankings for competitiveness and ease of doing business due to its liberal approach to regulation and taxation.

#2 - Rwanda: This small and landlocked country has become an unlikely -- but compelling -- economic success story due to its relentless drive to break down the barriers for entrepreneurs. Over years of reform, the country has dramatically lowered the number of steps it takes to open a business and made it far easier to get credit.

#3 - Botswana: According to the global anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa -- an important factor for entrepreneurs and their investors, who need to be able to rely on their national institutions. The country, which has relied heavily on revenues from the diamond trade to fuel its growth over the last half-century, has also tried to make sure that the legacy of its mining industry will be a more competitive business environment.

#4 - South Africa: Now eclipsed by Nigeria as the largest economy on the continent, South Africa is still home to the most sophisticated financial sector, which in turn feeds into a dynamic start-up scene -- alongside the big banks and the mining companies -- which still dominate the corporate world. However, despite its overall sophistication, start-ups face a number of challenges -- not least the well-publicised issues with power.

#5 - Tunisia: Before the turmoil of the 'Arab Spring', Tunisia had been building a modern economy, working to attract high technology manufacturing and outsourcing from Europe. The country's revolution, which unseated the autocratic regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, led to a brief upheaval in the economy. Now the dust has settled, the young, highly-educated population that took to the streets to demand change is once again the country's greatest economic resource.

But others such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana has also been noted for being very business-friendly.

How does one actually start a business in Africa?

Getting started is a lot easier than you think, but there is some effort and follow-through required. Here are 5 things you can do to get things moving:

#1 - Download these books: There are several books that can help you. We highly recommend 101 Ways to Make Money in Africa by Harnet Bokrezion, PhD. - the most detailed compilation of business ideas, on-the-ground facts, market intelligence, tips and advice for anyone who's looking to start a business or invest in Africa.

We also highly recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to Doing Business in Africa by Leyland Hazlewood - which alerts businesses to the enormous opportunities for expanding and strengthening their global competitiveness with a business platform in Africa.

#2 - Get in contact with the International Trade Commission: This agency's web site has a list published of all the embassy and chambers of commerce in every African country. You can access that list here www.trade.gov/dbia/africa-opportunities.asp

#3 - Contact the Africa Trade Show Foundation: This foundation provides forums and opportunities to bring together business leaders and professionals from prominent companies and organizations based in Sub-Sahara Africa and the United States. You can visit their web site at www.africatradeshow.net

#4 - Take a Business/Investment Tour: Several African countries offer organizaed tours for entrepreneurs that will connect you with networking, business and investing opportunities. One very popular one is the Ghana Repatriation & Investment Tour. For more details, visit www.africafortheafricans.org.

Another one is the Ghana Investment & Trade Tour, which facilitates and promotes trade and commercial relations between the UK and Ghana. For more details, visit www.ukgcc.com.gh

#5 - Get in touch with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): This US-based agency has a "Doing Business in Africa" campaign that harnesses federal trade promotion and financing capabilities to help U.S. businesses both identify and seize upon trade and investment opportunities, furthering the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa. For more details, visit www.mbda.gov/africa
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