The other day, I attended a panel discussion on “The global strategic landscape.” Panelists were members of IESE’s International Advisory Board. Among them, Ibukun Awosika, founder and CEO The Chair Center Group, and Chairperson of the First Bank of Nigeria. I thought of sharing with you some of her advice for foreign companies willing to invest in Africa:
- Do not come with solutions but ready to engage with others to find solutions: reengage the minds of the African population to solve their problems.
- You need local partnerships: coming from the outside, you’ll find a few things that will challenge your business model.
- You can’t have a short-term goal: you need patience for the investment to mature or for the industry to settle – in fact, you may need to help shape the industry.
- Know the values of where you are: if you want to build for the long term, you can’t just focus on the economic factor – you also need to facilitate social engagement.
Her last words were a great synthesis of her message: To create economic value, create value for the people, and then they will support you.
I love it when I hear African business people send messages that resonate with those in this blog:
- Some MNCs have an ethnocentric perspective that doesn’t recognize country differences: that brings them into the route to failure. Post to check: “Into Africa: routes to failure and success!”
- Foreign companies need to partner with local companies that contribute market knowledge: if you don’t include locals, you are already at disadvantage. Post to check: “Alliances: the key to new markets.”
- Thinking long-term pays off in Africa: this is in sharp contrast to the short-termism so prevalent among Western companies. Post to check: “Thinking long-term in Africa.”
- Patient capital is focused on returns in the long-run, and it’s also concerned with the social aspects of development. Post to check: “Patient capital.”
Any additional advice for foreign companies willing to enter the continent?