The opportunities for companies to prosper in Africa far outweigh the risks associated with doing business on the continent, says Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
This is because several African countries are showing commitment to addressing challenges, such as infrastructure development, political instability and corruption, which have hindered business opportunities in many jurisdictions, says JCCI president Advocate Fay Mukaddam.
“As with doing business in any new jurisdiction worldwide, companies need to understand the business environment of a prospective African country, including the country’s financial rating, any bilateral agreements between the country and the government of the company’s country of origin, and other challenges associated with doing business in that country.
“The JCCI offers these services to local and international companies aiming to work in any African country,” says Mukaddam.
She advises companies to first establish a business relationship with their country of origin’s embassy in the African country in which they want to do business before establishing operations in that particular country. This will ensure that companies will benefit from using the best channels through which to acquire all the required information.
Mukaddam highlights ample opportunities lie within the infrastructure development sector, which is mostly driven by public–private partnerships. She adds that the agroprocessing sector has recently started to present opportunities on the continent, citing Rwanda’s and Ethiopia’s recent initiatives to develop the sector.
Further, as several African countries are becoming more democratic, small businesses and entrepreneurship are emerging on the continent, with the JCCI focused on connecting these companies to the international market. “We have been involved with advisory services and international trade for the past 125 years and we, therefore, have extensive experience in doing business in Africa,” she states.
Mukaddam tells Engineering News that, as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations, the JCCI will this year host several gatherings to extend the chamber’s market reach and expand its membership. These include its yearly importer and exporter missions in South Africa and on the African continent, as well as breakfast gatherings and its flagship incubators, which expose businesspeople to business opportunities.
Further, the JCCI will launch the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Youth Desk and SME Women’s Desk later this year. The two desks will focus on promoting small businesses run by young people and women.
The JCCI’s export incubator, which was initiated in October last year to offer black South African entrepreneurs the opportunity to be trained and assisted in selling their products or services on the export market, will be formally launched this year.
“We are finding it difficult to discover black-owned companies that want to get into the export market and qualify to participate in the export market, which is why we are focusing on training and skills development.
“Further, we believe that to be successful in business, one needs education and training and not just talent; we are, therefore, focusing on the training of women and previously disadvantaged individuals,” explains Mukaddam.
The JCCI offers training courses that cover topics such as business management, starting and developing a business, entering the export market and financial management.
Mukaddam says some JCCI members have achieved results, as their businesses are developing and branching out into the export market.
The JCCI is an independent, nonpolitical, subscription-based association dedicated to promoting a business-friendly environment. Its members are drawn from every sector of the economy and range from independent entrepreneurs to large listed corporates. JCCI also promotes enterprise development, skills-development training and business advisory services.