5 December 2017

How to really talk business in Africa

Darlinghton Omoruyi, Vice President, Senior Manager Partnerships and Conference Centre | Articles

“Why haven’t we invested in Africa yet?” said a senior official at one of Europe’s larger pension funds at the beginning of a conversation we had about investing in Africa a few years ago. Today, the story is still the same. Africa needs all the investments it can get as further opportunities abound. In Africa, establishing long-term partnerships in your target market should be integral to your business strategy.

A key challenge some investors face when deciding to invest in Africa is finding the right strategy in developing the right partnership on the continent. We are a people of aunties and uncles, daddies and mummies, cousins, brothers and sisters with and without blood ties. An understanding of this concept can help understand the local business culture to navigate Africa’s investment terrain effectively.

A strategy focused on developing the right relations can help an investor:

Identify questions that are unique to the society and sector of interest

As a diverse continent, pre-conceived questions have failed on many occasions to provide relevant answers and directions for investment. This is due to lack of data and research, one of the major challenges that emerge when talking about investing in Africa.

Find champions

Speaking the language (not literarily) makes a significant difference in espousing a view that normally would seem distant from the people. It is like asking for a cup of tea in a Nigerian home when you are from the UK/US or China etc. Don’t be surprise if you get hot chocolate with milk instead.

Create alignment

With varied stages of development across the continent including within countries, aligning your objectives with those of communities, companies and individuals is very important.

Lastly, any investor looking to invest in Africa should adopt a hands on approach. With 54 countries, and more than 3000 ethnic groups and 2000 languages, you will need a strategy that allows you to adapt and to use your resources more efficiently. Investing in relationship management, would allow you to innovate, learn, develop deeper connections and have better conversation with your stakeholders.





Darlinghton Omoruyi, Vice President, Senior Manager Partnerships and Conference Centre

Darlinghton has worked closely with senior investment officials and key decisions makers of SWFs, central banks, pension funds, DFIs and global asset management firms by bringing them together to find solutions to investment challenges. In Africa, he has been involved in championing the case for savings for development through the establishments of SWFs. He has worked in wealth advisory as well as with private and commercial banks in Africa.


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