Partnerships not exploitation
For centuries, Africa has been viewed as a gold mine (sometimes literally) because of the abundance of undeveloped natural resources.
That richness has sometimes led to exploitation of the continent and its people, but in contemporary times many people involved in international trade are looking to create business partnerships with the nations of this land, and one way to learn about the potential opportunities is through trade missions.
The United States Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service (USCCS) will sponsor a Women and Minority Business trade mission to Jordan and Egypt Nov. 15 to 20, and Oct. 1 is the deadline to register.
According to the Commerce Department, this trade mission will enable businesses to make direct connections with prospective representatives, distributors, partners and end users.
The leading sectors for U.S. exports into these two nations are telecommunications equipment and services, environmental equipment and services, oil and gas field machinery and services, automotive parts and service equipment, electricity and power generation, food processing and packaging equipment, hotel and restaurant equipment, medical equipment and educational training and services.
The cost of the trade mission is $3,000 plus airfare and lodging, and participants will travel to Amman, Jordan, and Cairo, Egypt.
For additional information, contact Nyamusi K. Igambi at (713) 209-3112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you consider whether or not doing business in Africa is a good move for your company, Los Angeles-based Department of Commerce international trade expert Bobby Hines offers these thoughts.
“In too many cases people tell me they want to . . . reconnect with the homeland, and when people give me that, I tell them I‘m not interested.
“They’ve got to give a me a plan and let me know what they want to do,” added Hines, who is very pragmatic about what it takes to do business in Africa.
One key thing that a company must understand, said the trade specialist, is who you are and what product you have. Then you need to investigate whether there is a need for what you sell.
He also thinks a company should be in business for a few years actively promoting, marketing and successfully selling a product. The business should also be making a profit, and should not try to “dump” unpopular inventory into Africa.
Hines says a new interactive Web site—www.export.gov/Africa—is useful.
According to Hines, other considerations to be aware of include the fact that people in African nations are not going to pay for products in advance, so an entrepreneur must have the resources to wait for payment.
You also need to consider creating a department, division or dedicating one person to international trade and sales.
“You have to have a commitment, and be willing to take on the expenses and endure, if you are going to do international trade,” noted Hines, who said it is also critical to educate your self about the business of international trade—shipping, freight forwarding, tariff’s, duties etc.
“This is an expansion and you have to look at it this way (and plan for it).”