Creating a successful business is not like painting by numbers. There’s no surefire way of creating a successful entity. You often have to try and try again before getting it right and proving your business is worthwhile. Also, when you start a business, you enter the marketplace with a set of variables in play but within a few short months, those could change. You should expect shifts within industries or changing laws or newly enforced regulations. And these changes could disrupt your business game plan, cause you to shift your focus or force you to pivot your business entirely.
One of the biggest shifts that any industry or business couldn’t have predicted was the rise of the internet. It impacted every sector in varying degrees and soon after, the mobile industry created yet another shift. In Africa specifically, mobile fintech proved the leapfrog opportunity that gave the average African citizen access to broader banking services.
This is an example of the awareness that African business owners need to have in order to succeed in their venture.
Currently, you could consider Africa fluid as it evolves into a more viable option for foreign investment. That foreign investment should support the rise of young African entrepreneurs. And beyond anything else, they need infrastructure and new technology. Of course, Africa is no early adopter of new technologies but it remains open to all developments in the sector. Often, when the infrastructure is in place to support it, Africa adopts new technologies in a way that works specifically for its people.
Investors looking at funding African businesses and entrepreneurs looking to launch their startup must understand how the marketplace differs from anywhere else in the world.
Firstly, young people are completely aware
Africa used to be considered behind the times. It’d be ignorant to think this is still the case. Thanks to mobile technology, even those in remote villages on the outskirts of the bigger city centres are connected. Conducting business with the rural population isn’t necessarily easier, they’re as connected as city dwellers. You can’t do bad business or deliver sub par service and then rest easy with the belief your target market simply won’t know you’re under-delivering. Now that everyone has online access, they can review and rate your business for the whole world to see.
Young African people, regardless of where they live, are the predominant income earners and the people who are spending money. They are hyper aware and they’re connected on social media. Mobile technology has afforded them the opportunity to access new products and services. There are no more gaps of ignorance because through online access, they can read reviews on products and business services they might be interested in. They will access all social media platforms and communities, and be a part of the bigger conversation. Businesses can no longer take advantage of the ignorance of the disconnected population because everyone is currently online.
Secondly, you’ll get nowhere if you’re not mobile-centric
It’s been said a million times, but mobile is truly everything. African companies need to recognise that the business will flatline if it’s not accessible on a phone. The African population is made up of feature phone and smartphones owners. Of course, smartphones offer internet access and connectivity whereas feature phones offer basic text messaging and text-based apps. If your target market uses mostly feature phones then your ability to keep your customer happy is fairly simple. But this won’t be for long. Quartz notes that feature phones are on their way out: “By 2019, feature phones will only account for 27% of Africa’s mobile handset market, as the market for smartphones–fueled by handsets priced under $100 per unit–continues to grow.”
So, the take out is that Africa embraces technology, it manipulates it to suit the needs of its people. Companies looking to expand throughout Africa must pay close attention to current technology trends and what’s predicted in the near future.
Are you a business owner or entrepreneur looking to expand through Africa? If so then you need to know more about what it takes to succeed in this energetic and sometimes volatile continent. You can find the answers and guidance you require by joining us at AfricArena 2017, where we’ll arm you with the tech knowledge you need to make it in Africa.