What should Canadian entrepreneurs know about business opportunities in Africa? PROFIT asked speakers at the recent Africa Rising conference in Toronto to weigh in.
CEO, Kestrel Capital Management Corp.
“There’s an emerging middle class in sub-Saharan Africa. Within the next five to 10 years, there are going to be more households with an average income of greater than $6,000 in sub-Saharan Africa than there are in India. They’ll be buying things like beer, furniture and groceries. They’ll be buying telecommunications services—that sector has exploded in the past 10 years. And banking services, too; Canadian banks are completely absent from Africa, and Africa is underbanked.”
CEO, Wind Mobile
“I think Canadians overestimate the macroeconomic or political risks in many parts of Africa. Take Egypt: it’s had remarkable growth over the past 10 years. If you dismissed it as ’a part of the world I don’t understand,‘ you’d have missed out on something big. In Egypt and Tunisia, the value of running call centres is quite high. And manufacturing is growing quite a bit. If you want a lower-risk way of entering the market, get in on the services side; you can seek smaller opportunities and turn them into big ones.”
Founder, The BDA Foundation and PharmAfrican
“There are tremendous opportunities to create joint ventures with African entrepreneurs. For a long time, it was foreign multinationals making decisions; now, entrepreneurs are becoming an emerging force in many countries, and they are eager to partner with foreign firms that offer them some autonomy. They’re making their own governments attentive to what they have to say. They’re the ones who are going to build their countries. Working with these emerging SMEs is very powerful.”