Five Steps to Protect Yourself When Doing Business in Africa

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Getting to know your partners is essential to succeeding in business within Africa. Here are five quick ideas to protect you and your business while you conduct business within Africa.

1. Visit Your Partners

It is highly advisable that you visit your potential business partners and if necessary conduct an audit. Visiting your business partners will give you a great opportunity to access your partners capacity to meet your needs.

For example, you may be wanting to order 100,000 mangoes from your partner annually. Visiting your partner’s farm will give you the opportunity to determine your partners ability to deliver. If you access that that partner can only supply 20,000 mangoes, then they will likely outsource the reminder of the mangoes. This could cause a drop in quality or a loss in Organic Certification ratings.

2. Your Partners Should be Registered Businesses

Ensure that your partner is registered with the appropriate government agencies. Also make sure they have been in business for several years. Look at their business registration and also their tax returns. A partner who has been in business for several years knows what they are doing and will be able to deliver during challenging times.

3. Conduct a Due Diligence

Ask for references from your potential partners. Ideally, you also will get foreign references. Make sure the reference has been a business for a while. Also note that your potential partner will give you someone who will say nice things about them. It is therefore important that you ask the right questions that will uncover potential challenges.

For example, ask questions like: If you could have changed one thing, what would it have been? Is there anything else I should consider before I hire this vendor?

4. Get a “Golden Sample.”

Get samples for all goods before your purchase bulk orders. Samples will give you the opportunity to check for quality and your capacity to efficiently ship them to your destination country. Getting samples is also a great dry run to test your entire delivery process. A sample quality inspection process also gives you bargaining leverage over your partner.

5. Create a Continuous Quality Control System

A strong and continuous quality control mechanism will help give you visibility and control over the goods while continually monitoring for defects. If possible, arrange for inspections during the production stages. Always, remember the path from trade shows to samples to product delivery is very long. So please put in a quality control mechanism.

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