Steps for African entrepreneurs to create and start a business, grow it, and address customer needs outside their home country and beyond the continent
An entrepreneur is often motivated to start a business from the desire to be independent and control her/his livelihood. This combines with the ambition to create something that will be recognized as her/his achievement. The initial business idea (or concept) usually comes from within the sphere of her/his knowledge and life experience to date – family, friends, education, etc.
It is important for the entrepreneur to understand and be comfortable with her/his initial core motivations. Yet it’s also vital for the entrepreneur to stay flexible and prepared to tailor, or even drastically change, the new business concept to what will in fact work in the marketplace, and also to satisfy her/his core motivations that will have become “personal objectives” in the meantime.
Entrepreneurs most often define their new business concept as a product or a service that they are convinced will sell. A major effort is needed to also define the business as a population of customers who have known needs to be satisfied. Three keys initial questions have got to be:
Who are my target customers and on what basis did I select them?
What are my target customers’ needs and why / how will my offering satisfy them?
What will invite my customers to buy my offering in preference to alternatives, to satisfy their needs?
Answering these questions requires some form of market research – formal or informal.
These questions will lead to many more, such as: Who are my competitors? What do they do right and what are they doing that need improvement? Which suppliers do I need? … etc. To start a business also often requires a mindset change and personal development of creativity and innovative thinking. Beyond launching the business and satisfying your first (local) customers, will come the challenges of successive growth steps, and adapting the offering and the sales process to address new customers beyond your country. We are talking here about international export.
For many African agri-business entrepreneurs, this is a huge step. Export markets have agricultural standards to meet – the consistent quality of the production, documented use of fertilisers and pesticides, packaging that not only promotes your brand and the specific products in your brand family but also provides the full information in the right languages for the end-customers.
From the challenges, it is seen that the way to resolve it is not size fit all formula since businesses are different. However, there are vital steps that need to be taken into consideration to make a business a success.
- Carry out market research to understand the business and who are the competitors in the business.
- Funding for the business can be provided either by the owner of the business, borrow from family, friends, or the bank, and see if external help is needed.
- Engage in the digital space to take the business at the international level and to reach people from national, regional, and international markets.
- Collaborate and partner with organisations that can help to complement the business idea.
- Incorporate technology in the business to add value and increase profit margins.
To grow a business especially in the agri sector and to get recognised at the international level the following needs to happen:
Entrepreneurs need to see how to expand their businesses in one way or the other. A way of doing this is by collaborating with other businesses that can serve as complementary in your business or engage in a project. In that way, it will be a win-win for both businesses and a chance to learn new things
Also, businesses in the agri sector for instance need to engage not only in the sustainable production of the crop but likewise value addition, processing, increase productivity especially with green energy solutions at least remotely. This is a better way to increase profit margins especially when dealing in foreign markets
- Add standards
It is important for businesses to add standards in the way they do business. This standard can be in terms of production for instance instead of using chemical pesticides, go for organic pesticides that are biodegradable. And instead of spreading the crop just before harvest do it months or weeks before harvest so as not to contaminate the crop. Eat some of the crops for a healthy diet and sell the excess to earn an income. Create a product fit based on international standards both in terms of regulations and buyers’ preference (quality, packaging, and certification) in that case these standards will also be spread in national and regional markets.
- Profit from the EU-Africa trade relation
The EU is Africa’s number one trading partner and the EU will be strengthening its trade relation ties with Africa comes the 17 and 18 of February 2022 in Brussels during the EU- AU Summit with Northern Africa and SSA countries. Trade relations couple with trade agreements with Africa will be a great opportunity for Africa to invest in economic growth and development, reduce financial poverty, create decent jobs and steady income for businesses and reach the 17 SDGs. Thus, opening more EU markets to trade with Africa especially in the agri sector will be a game-changer for businesses especially small businesses in 2022. The information to do all this as well as shipment and distribution outside of Africa is scarce and difficult to come by. This is what this blog sets out to address.
We aim to help African agri-entrepreneurs to 2022 by knowing precisely which steps to take to grow their businesses especially women entrepreneurs and youths in the agri-industry and beyond. Beyond this blog, Euro-Afri Link ( https://euroafrilink.com/ ) and Eukalypton ( https://eukalypton.com ) are collaborating to provide a 360° support offering to that African agri-business start-up and entrepreneurs who wish tailored support, training, and coaching.
Authors: Jonathan S. Woods Managing Director at Eukalypton and Patience Chindong co-founder& CEO @ EAL