According to Afreximbank’s Africa Trade Report 2019, the European Union remains Africa’s main continental trading partner, accounting for 29.8 per cent of total trade on the African continent.
Besides the EU bloc, China and India have consolidated their positions as Africa’s first and second single largest trading partners, accounting for over 21 per cent of total African trade in 2018.
But here comes the shocking part:
Intra-African trade — trade between African countries — currently stands at only 16 per cent. Even though this figure looks like a significant improvement from 5 per cent in 1980, Africa is still not pulling its true weight locally and internationally. Despite having almost 15 percent of the world’s population, the continent only contributes 2.6 percent of global trade.
It is clear that to boost intra-African trade, we need to unleash the potential of small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) which make up 90 per cent of businesses in most African countries are SMEs.
That’s why it’s time to get more African SMEs expanding and selling across borders.
The Current Challenges
How does a small or mid-sized business in the dairy industry in Zimbabwe get talent and material to execute its in-store activation for a first pilot listing of its yogurt product in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia?
Which local vendors in Ethiopia does it know to select for this objective?
How does a shear butter production outfit in Ghana explore expansion possibilities and get information on the number of possible retailers, consumers, processors, and product variants in Tanzania?
How does a social enterprise with a focus on healthcare access in Rwanda seeking health interventions in Blantyre, Malawi get data on the number of small clinics and their practices?
How does a honey production SACCO in Kenya get data on the brands, variants and market share of honey suppliers in Burundi?
How does a hardware manufacturer in Egypt know how many brands of electric showers are stocked in Tier-1 supermarkets in Lusaka, Zambia and what their prices are?
How does a mid-sized business in Sudan that provides mobile financial support services and plans to expand into Dakar, Senegal, design their execution? How do they know the market share of registered mobile financial support agencies registered in Dakar?
Where does an apparel producer in Nigeria looking to set up in Rwanda get the list of potential distributors in Kigali?
Market information is so hard to get for African SMEs
Where do all these entities get their information? How can they sell globally, and improve on their product and packaging to meet international standards?
SMEs on the African continent face these challenges as they try to access other African markets and international markets for expansion.
The primary model of access to critical market information often lies with governments and trade organizations focusing on macro-economic models of trade.
Our continent’s trade barriers, trading blocks and trading partner agreements made to enhance trade have ironically hampered trade with the key effect being the bureaucracy involved, making the process excruciating and less accessible to SMEs and only relevant to big, established companies with presence in multiple countries.
Embassies and foreign trade missions, which are often alternative channels of sourcing market information, are usually not enough to handle the information demands from SMEs, especially in the required lead time.
Even though there exists an informal route of access to information through professional contacts, colleagues, friends and family, this option is not always available, reliable or effective to support sound business decisions.
So, what is the Solution?
1 — An Innovative Approach
Using innovation, we have built a seamless platform that connects African SMEs with access to markets in other African countries and global markets. This ensures they get reliable information that empowers them to make sound strategic decisions as they enter a foreign market.
We have structured our entire solution using our patented Kuueza technology that allows SMEs to sell products and services using mobile money. We help to resolve the challenge of accessing alternative markets through an efficient and effective model that connects SMEs to information, sales strategy and execution variables that have been hitherto non-existent.
2 — An Evolved Model
The model of doing business across Africa has greatly evolved, ideally from an academic model of seeking employment to an entrepreneurial model of solving problems and needs in communities through disruption and innovation.
There are far much more entrepreneurs running SMEs in Africa now than there were a few years ago who want access to other markets but are challenged by traditional regulatory ecosystems of trade that are complex to understand and navigate.
Still, many African SMEs remain unaware of opportunities existing outside their borders due to a myriad of challenges. They are entirely on their own, forced to contend with unprecedented challenges in trying to access other markets at any level, burdened with insecurity about using organizations or people they do not know, and left with only access through informal channels that are often inconsistent or unreliable
Kuueza is bridging the gap in intra-African trade
Kuueza exists to ensure that African SMEs get an opportunity to grow in any market they evaluate as being an opportunity for their offerings through sound information, strategy and execution.
We provide an opportunity where there is none or where there is a steep climb allowing SME’s to concentrate on their core businesses whilst growing in the markets they look to.
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For more info visit www.kuueza.com
This article was contributed by Maxwell Adew, Founder & CEO of Kuueza, an emerging provider of cross-border trade solutions with a mission to significantly boost the reach and potential of African SMEs.