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Africa Month 2024: 4 Lessons Learnt From Doing Business in Africa

This Africa month, inspired by the progress of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), we are sharing the lessons that we have learnt – and are still learning - from growing our business in the rest of Africa.

Allegro first expanded its presence outside Africa in 2020. Defying many odds, we started working in the West African market. We had no prior experience doing business outside South Africa, but we were tenacious and eager to build bridges with partners in the country. Today, we have established Allegro Africa in Rwanda, and we are continually expanding our East African presence.

  1. Immersion in local culture

Doing business in Africa often requires immersing yourself in the culture of the land in which you operate. Working with local businesses in a country and taking a long-term view, rather than a short-term profit motive, when building stakeholder relationships, goes a long way to create a soft landing.

2. Connect with local businesses

Local businesses have a deep understanding of the local market, including regulations, consumer preferences, and business ethos. It is important to respect the local laws, norms and customs of a particular country. Partnering with local businesses is helpful because they can guide you through complexities and help you to avoid potential pitfalls or social blunders.

3. Grow your network – make it personal

Local partners can also introduce you to key stakeholders, including distributors, and potential customers, accelerating your market entry. Local business partners can help you navigate logistical challenges, like finding office space, hiring staff, and complying with local laws such as tax laws.

4. Conduct due diligence before selecting a local partner

In certain African countries, partnering with a local business is the best option for market entry. This approach seems to work, especially if you consider that the local partner is familiar with the market nuances. However, it carries risks, so thorough due diligence is crucial to ensure the right partnership.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, African countries are incredibly diverse and the business landscapes can be difficult to navigate. However, in the advent of the AfCFTA, there is more reason now than ever before, for us to do business with each other and to build the Africa we want!

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