The rapidly growing urbanized African population has consumer needs. By investing a trillion dollars in Africa, foreign and local investors can meet growing domestic demand.
Governments and the private sector seek to solve infrastructure problems. Africa has many useful resources, but it needs innovation and investment. This will create new modern enterprises. The rapid introduction of mobile and digital technologies will help states reach an innovative level of economic development.
With over 400 African companies earning annual revenues of US$1 billion or more, we can identify what works. The highly successful businesses are often African companies, but many are entrepreneurial firms with Western, Indian, or Chinese founders.
The most consistently profitable businesses demonstrate a higher tolerance for risk, are eager to adapt their products, production, and distribution for African consumers, and commit to investing and building their businesses for the long-term.
Building a successful business in Africa requires a long-term approach and the use of four main elements:
- Mapping strategies in Africa (clarity of goals and priorities, concrete ways to reach the scale of a business, creating a successful business organization system).
- Innovative business models (marketing of mutual relations with customers, a creation of products and services to meet unmet needs, optimization of business costs)
- Strengthening sustainability in the long term (taking risks into account and forecasting them, eliminating short-term volatility, diversifying business, integrating up and down the value chain, adapting to local specifics and interacting with governments);
- Talent development (development of skills among employees, encouragement of creative employees, a creation of talent development processes, use of opportunities to promote women).
At the heart of these four imperatives is a commitment to doing well by doing good. We have had the privilege of meeting and working with many remarkable business leaders from around the world. What has struck us time and again is how many of them are driven by a deeper purpose. They look closely at Africa’s high levels of poverty; its gaps in infrastructures; they see human issues they feel responsible for solving. They show us that contributing to the social and economic development of the countries within which their thriving businesses operate creates value for both shareholders and stakeholders.