Half of the world’s fastest-growing economies are in Africa. There’s no place like our continent when it comes to doing business, and that’s why you’ve got to know the terrain if you’re hoping to navigate it. So what does it take to grow your business from the South African market and what are the best places you should consider setting up shop?
The Basics of Expansion
Get Accustomed to the Customers
You’re not trying to offer your products or services to machines, you’re trying to sell to people. As such, it’s important that you get into those people’s heads. You’ll find that market research is much easier in some countries than it is in others. This is just one of the metrics one can use to determine just how easy it is to start and run a business in a particular place.
Join online groups from your target market and get to know the culture. Learn about the things they can’t do without. As you might imagine, each market is different with customers that have different tastes and lifestyles. Find out what the people love. Pick up on some trends, dig up some history, whatever it takes to give you some insight on the people you hope to convert to customers.
Demystify the Systems
It’s important that you know what the tax regime is like in the country. You’ve got to get a grip on employment practices over there. Study your competitors in the region, identify the speed of the market and just go with it. What are the regulations on packaging? You know those aren’t uniform with every country, right? How economically and politically stable is the country in question? These are things you’ve got to figure out when reaching out of South Africa.
Make Sure you’re Good for it
Just because you’re having success in South Africa, it doesn’t automatically make you fit to expand outside of her borders. Considering the cost of taking your business internationally is absolutely necessary. From customs and shipping to travel costs and anything associated with setting up your business, there’s a lot you need to think about.
Your Best Bets
Rwanda is one of the easiest places to start a business in Africa. There are very few steps involved in registering a company and the entire process is quick and can be done online. The country’s economy has an astronomical growth rate. It’s a world leader when it comes to ease in registering property. As for business reforms, no African nation has taken them as seriously as Rwanda. Foreign Direct Investments don’t go through too much scrutiny and there aren’t too many limitations.
The Rwandan people are soft spoken, so you really have to take a personalized approach if you really want to connect with them. Employee retention is pretty decent on this side of the world, since finding a new job can take up to a year. With a huge workforce to deal with, you really want to shop around as much as possible for the perfect fit, since whoever you’re going to take on will probably stick around. You want to pay attention to appearance in Rwanda. The way your employees dress will determine how they’re received by the public. Steer clear of politics, and don’t promote division among the people in any way because relationships and the idea of unity are very important. Rwanda has a history of ethnic tension, so you don’t want to highlight differences in people.
Mauritius boasts of a free market economy, making it perfect for FDI. It’s one of the most tax-friendly countries in Africa, with no dividend distribution, zero capital gains tax and a low corporate tax. You can incorporate and register your company’s business activities in just 2 hours, smoothly and without the slightest hassle. The place is stable, socially, politically, and economically.
The first thing you need to do is register your company with the Companies Division, luckily you can do that online. You can even check to make sure there isn’t a company with the name you’ve thought up already. Once you’re done with that, you can go ahead and create a bank account on the spot. If you’re planning to take some South African employees to South Africa with you, they’re going to need to have occupation permits.
You can have your pick at a selection of serviced offices in the country or you can get a local real estate agent to help you secure an office. For those that don’t want to commit to a place of their own and if you aren’t up for the serviced office option, consider a partnership. These are commonplace in the country and may prove to be useful in helping you get a lay of the land, since your partner would’ve already known their way around.
Here you’re dealing with infrastructure that keeps getting better. The legal framework is highly favourable to foreign investment. Who wouldn’t want to do business here? Get into some of that smart city real estate they have over there. Take advantage of the Property Development Scheme. Think about how you can make use of the country’s sea and air links. There’s just so much opportunity for you to explore the island nation.
Go Big or Go Home
Surely you’re ready to take on a whole new playing field by now? Do your homework and apply the principles mentioned above, then you’ll be in good enough shape to partake in the rest of Africa’s commercial potential. Don’t be afraid to seek help, be bold but realistic, and always think in terms of scaled and manageable growth. Now let’s expand!