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What you should know about doing business in East Africa

  May 26, 2017

Over 20 budding entrepreneurs from Nigeria visited Strathmore Business School (SBS), in a bid to uncover business opportunities in expanding their services and products to the Kenyan market.

Entrepreneurs seeking to sail ship into new markets must be prepared to grapple with the different administrative procedures in business registration, cultural elements that shape business operations, access to capital, talent and expertise development and a reliable business network to work with, just but to mention a few.

Ian Kabiru, Strathmore Business School Owner Manager Program alumnus, seems to have ridden these tides with the grace of a swan. The CEO and Managing Director of Horizons Offices, has his business operating in over 3 African countries.  Horizons Offices Limited is a private sector initiative that gives corporate institutions the opportunity to rent fully serviced offices to local business centers in various Africa countries.

Amidst diplomatic attention by Kenya to enhance bilateral trade with foreign countries, African countries are considerably establishing favorable conditions for trade amongst themselves.

From commanding the most ambitious rail project in Africa, to topping the list of the highest exporting countries in the 19-member state of COMESA trading bloc; Kenya continues to command the East African giant trade voice.

Like many other emerging markets, legal and administrative functions in setting up a business have been simplified. “Institutions such as KenInvest are very important in providing a checklist on starting a business in Kenya, the required regulations, as well as investment opportunities,” said Kabiru.

Talent and expertise search can at times be daunting, especially in countries where certain competencies may be inadequate. In such cases, Kabiru advised entrepreneurs to consolidate their teams by ensuring that the most crucial skills in setting up the venture in a new locale are represented.

Ease in accessing capital may vary from one business to another and it is also dependent on the country, “In looking for ways to access funding, one must study the various borrowing policies as required by the country’s banking institution and weigh the pros and cons of borrowing against other forms of accessing financing. For instance, is private equity a viable source of funding for your business?”

Travel and legal networks are also a significant factor in considering penetrating into the East African market. Improved road and boarder networks have enhanced trade relations across various East African countries.

Kabiru highly recommended entrepreneurs to delve into sectors that would also be of great business impact to their respective countries of residence. Concluding the session, he urged the audience to get more involved in establishing the ground work, commit to the task and build a good support network around them that will be of great boost to their business.

About the Owner Manager Program

OMP is designed to help entrepreneurs create value and meet the customer demands as their organisation grows. This program provides a unique opportunity for owner managers to step back from the day-to-day demands of running their businesses. By the end of the program they will not only have developed a comprehensive and robust strategy for the future of their company, but will also be expected to acquire a better grasp of the processes of achieving such as strategy.

The SBS Owner Manager Program (OMP) is offered in conjunction with Lagos Business School, Nigeria which offers participants an opportunity to experience business from a country known for entrepreneurs who are bold risk takers.

Click here to read more about the program.

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