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Rene Webster, General Manager - Africa and Middle East at MOBILITAS GROUP-Executive Relocations
How to start your company?

For a young French entrepreneur wanting to set up a business I couldn't think of a better destination than Africa. Firstly, most countries from central towards your Northern Africa are actually French-speaking so it's easy to do business because business will be in French and the local language. People welcome the French because they are entrepreneurs they are flexible. Being an English person working for a French company I'm often told “you English plan as French we do, is we get it done” and that's the kind of spirit you need to have when doing business in Africa.

It is difficult, corruption is rife you need to be aware of it, you need to think of creative ways to overcome it, because you don't want to pay bribes, you want to do business the right way but it is an economy that is hungry for new businesses, developing businesses. Africa has a very young population with a growing middle-class so it's a great place to invest, there isn't competition so if you can be the first to get you are going to be the market leader.

The difficulty an entrepreneur is going to have going into most African countries, not all but most, is a lack of skilled staff of the workforce and those who are skilled are demanding large salaries so this is something you've got to be aware of. Many companies starting up in Africa do bring expats in, these expats will provide training for the local workforce to get them upskilled within 2 to 3 years so that they are able to take those middle and senior-level management positions. Probably the greatest hurdle will be with technical skills. You have a lot of management leveled employee but technical skills, engineers, people that come from the IT industry, that is difficult to find those kind of skills in Africa.

However, people are hungry for education, people want to learn they often haven't been given the opportunity but most people in Africa, you'll be surprised at what their general knowledge is and how hungry they are for education. Having lived in Kenya one of the things that surprised me was how people would walk two three hours to go to school every day and then walk two three hours to get home, what a shame it wasn't for the family if you dropped out of school if you didn't do a degree after finish ing school no matter if you had money or not so people want education, the unfortunate thing is that sometimes it’s not available in all the countries but if you are if you willing to upskill the labor force it’s fantastic for you as an organization.

As a French person looking to enter the African market I’d probably say look at countries such as Morocco possibly Algeria with its desperate need for businesses. Morocco is a lovely country it's beautiful and it's very westernized it's very easy to do business and business are booming. It's easier to enter markets that are predominantly French speaking and got a French way of doing business so you would look at north Africa west Africa, Nigeria: great country, lots of development lots of business opportunities, people that are hungry to grow their economy; Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon all these countries are booming. If you’re looking for an easy expat post or country to leave in, I'd say South Africa although it's getting much harder to set up a business there and it is English speaking which poses a problem if you don't speak both French and English. Also South Africa there's more competition so it makes it harder if you are not a unique business venture, west Africa, north Africa central Africa, these countries are hungry for new businesses.

Video content: Rene Webster, General Manager- Africa and Middle East at MOBILITAS GROUP-Executive Relocations
How to start your company?

For a young French entrepreneur wanting to set up a business I couldn't think of a better destination than Africa. Firstly, most countries from central towards your Northern Africa are actually French-speaking so it's easy to do business because business will be in French and the local language. People welcome the French because they are entrepreneurs they are flexible. Being an English person working for a French company I'm often told “you English plan as French we do, is we get it done” and that's the kind of spirit you need to have when doing business in Africa.

It is difficult, corruption is rife you need to be aware of it, you need to think of creative ways to overcome it, because you don't want to pay bribes, you want to do business the right way but it is an economy that is hungry for new businesses, developing businesses. Africa has a very young population with a growing middle-class so it's a great place to invest, there isn't competition so if you can be the first to get you are going to be the market leader.

The difficulty an entrepreneur is going to have going into most African countries, not all but most, is a lack of skilled staff of the workforce and those who are skilled are demanding large salaries so this is something you've got to be aware of. Many companies starting up in Africa do bring expats in, these expats will provide training for the local workforce to get them upskilled within 2 to 3 years so that they are able to take those middle and senior-level management positions. Probably the greatest hurdle will be with technical skills. You have a lot of management leveled employee but technical skills, engineers, people that come from the IT industry, that is difficult to find those kind of skills in Africa.

However, people are hungry for education, people want to learn they often haven't been given the opportunity but most people in Africa, you'll be surprised at what their general knowledge is and how hungry they are for education. Having lived in Kenya one of the things that surprised me was how people would walk two three hours to go to school every day and then walk two three hours to get home, what a shame it wasn't for the family if you dropped out of school if you didn't do a degree after finish ing school no matter if you had money or not so people want education, the unfortunate thing is that sometimes it’s not available in all the countries but if you are if you willing to upskill the labor force it’s fantastic for you as an organization.

As a French person looking to enter the African market I’d probably say look at countries such as Morocco possibly Algeria with its desperate need for businesses. Morocco is a lovely country it's beautiful and it's very westernized it's very easy to do business and business are booming. It's easier to enter markets that are predominantly French speaking and got a French way of doing business so you would look at north Africa west Africa, Nigeria: great country, lots of development lots of business opportunities, people that are hungry to grow their economy; Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon all these countries are booming.
If you’re looking for an easy expat post or country to leave in, I'd say South Africa although it's getting much harder to set up a business there and it is English speaking which poses a problem if you don't speak both French and English. Also South Africa there's more competition so it makes it harder if you are not a unique business venture, west Africa, north Africa central Africa, these countries are hungry for new businesses.

Linked key words: set up a business, Africa, Northern Africa, Middle East, Relocation, doing business, corruption, bribes, new businesses, developing businesses

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