A series of posts focused on ideas to start a profitable business in Africa . I will present them segment by segment. Here are 10 ideas to start a business targeting expatriates in your country.
Overall, our purpose is to simulate your mind, and encourage you to start your next business in Africa.
1. International Aid and investment segment opportunities
The international aid for Africa is a $40-billion-a-year industry. Most of this, is easy money to take, mostly for corruption and overpaid expatriates; however smart startups would be wise to explore the needs of this huge international organizations full of the laziest people in the planet always in search of someone to do their job for them or make their life easier. Here is a list of 10 ideas to create customized services or application for their use:
#A: Personal Service provider for local expatriate
More and more foreign people are heading to Africa, the last frontier of economical opportunities. Additional to the foreign aid employees, there are also more and more expatriates coming to Africa with the $48 billion-a-year foreign investment in Africa Business.
In some cities like Nairobi, Luanda, Dakar, Accra, Addis-Ababa these expatriates are thousands. They are rich, noisy, visible. They have very specific needs compared to local people.
Any smart company that would successfully create a set of services (travel, visas, registration, residency status, dual nationality questions, legal issues of marriage and divorce, visa runs) for this community in any given country, could easily expand the same concierge service to other countries. There is lot of money here waiting for smart and opportunist entrepreneurs.
#B: First-world quality Internet, mobile services or application customized for local environment
These guys have money. They are used to some first-world internet and mobile service they won’t have locally. It’s important to study their daily life in your city, survey them about their needs, and find out about things that might be very helpful for them to survive in Africa jungle. They will thank with their easily earned dollars and smiles.
#C: Food delivery for infrastructure/construction workers
It’s the easiest and quickest way to become rich. Design a mobile food service specialized in construction sites. You move your restaurant to serve breakfast, lunch, snacks, sandwich and casual drink close to the workers. You move and follow the sites. You are the first to know all new construction sites where will be hundreds of workers and expatriates. Deliver good food, cheap, and fast with a friendly touch.
There are hundreds of construction sites in many countries, financed by foreign aid or investment.
#D: Online expat forums
There are many expatriates forums online, but very little cover African countries, with ground information and assistance.
This forum could started with very little effort in connection with local expatriates. You might first start by creating a local association for expats in your city/country with social gatherings and activities, then move on to have an online version focused on providing useful and relevant information.
2 girls and one guy could start this on their free time, and finally make it a profitable business with add-ons services.
One advise: focus your forum on one country, yours.
#E: Controlled origin vegetables and meat delivery service
Most of the vegetables, and meat in the local market in big cities in Africa are not trusted by expatriates.
There is a huge opportunity in putting in place a good logistic to identify and deliver to urban market a controlled origin food that these expatriated population can trust. They are ready to pay 10 times local prices.
#F: Create a full-service job agency
One of the biggest issue you have when you start a business in Africa is how to find good employees, with required competencies, work ethics and good health.
Most of the international organizations, corporations in Africa spend countless hours on their hiring process, but to find out that they have failed to hire the right people. Employees turnover is huge.
There are very few professional head hunters, and very few job agencies with specialized skills. This is one of the best opportunity to pursue at this present time in Africa.
#G: Field Data collection & statistics
Independent projects monitoring and postmortem data collection is one of the fields where international organizations in Africa needs help. They need this data for their report and spend huge amount of money for that.
Currently this job is done by hiring huge consulting firm in London, which in turn subcontract to some small consulting firms in Europe which organize data collection teams on the ground. The teams are disband at the end of each project.
A local company which will specialize in field data collection will fill the gap for the international organizations, but also be a good service provider for local government which in most case doesn’t have any reliable statistics institute.
These kind of company could be started by a group sociologists and statisticians with the support of a networks of niche experts.
#H: Local investment opportunities / banking services
Africa is currently perceived as a new land of opportunity by the whole world. Old colonial powers and Chinese are in fight to have access to the emerging opportunities. Expatriates living in Africa are now better off investing their money in African banks or companies’ stocks than into their failing banks and economies. That create a huge opportunity for investment advisers and personal finance planners to create tools and services for this community.
This opportunity could be explored as a confidential investment newsletter, investment boutique, index fund or index tracker agency.
#I: Procurement services for international projects
This is a huge opportunity for young business administration graduates who have deep passion for international commerce, procurement, and have the discipline to manage large scale logistic projects.
Many African countries still lack reliable and large scale Procurement outsourcing services providers in front a huge and growing demand either by local entrepreneurs, and administration or by international organizations.
#J: Expat newspapers, magazine, Classified
Expatriates communities classified paper and online magazine is a profitable niche business to explore in big African cities where there are thousands of expats.
It could be done as an extension to a large circulation magazine or an independent endeavor
That’s all for today. During the next days, this series on Business opportunities in Africa will continue to cover the following areas:
2. mobile-app/mini websites
You can create cheap mobile apps and websites for smaller businesses, and make alot of cash from it, provided you know a little one or two things about it. These days there are websites that offer you easy to use app builders and web builders, so you don't need any coding knowledge to build one.
3. Physical Security and data encryption and protection
Security is a huge issue in many African countries. Opportunities for business are endless here: from physical security to helping African governments protect their data from hackers and spies, You’ll receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
4. Servers farms for local e-commerce
Currently most of African websites are hosted in Europe or United States. As the continent Internet and mobile applications usage grows, there will be a huge need for reliable servers farms and hosting companies in Africa. You’ll receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
5. E-libraries and affordable e-books readers for students
Africa will by-pass the area of huge physical libraries and go directly to digital libraries where students and citizens could access millions of books and materials through tablets. This digital revolution is a huge opportunities for education in Africa, but will need smart entrepreneurs to negotiate the deals, clear the patch of adoption and build the necessary platforms that will support that revolution. You’ll receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
Africa is young and buoyant, but has a huge housing problem in all its urban areas. Government and private investors in this area will need the support of edgy and ambitious entrepreneurs. You’ll receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
7. IP and patents protection
As the African economy will continue to grow, business will start slowly caring about their brand and IP (Intellectual Properties) protection and will need companies to help them in doing the ground work of monitoring, identifying breaches and taking actions.
Young lawyers in search of business opportunities will receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
8. Review & Rating
Trust is important in any economy, and for new and growing capitalist economies like in Africa, good and independent Review and rating agencies and services providers will be well positioned to take on this lucrative market. You’ll receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
9. Energy and Transportation
Everything in this segment is to be done. From the smallest village to the biggest cities, Africa needs the most courageous, the most pragmatic, and the most compassionate entrepreneurs to succeed here. You’ll receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.
E-commerce in Africa is only in its very early stages, however there are lot of opportunities to seize. A good positioning, and a well rounded branding and customers service will help any well funded startup in this segment to make fortunes. You’ll also receive 10 ideas to start a business in this segment.