The 5 Obstacles Your International Company Will Meet in Africa

Obstacles International Companies Will Face in Africa

It’s decided! Your company is expanding to an African country.  

By now, you have probably read all about every perk and downside the country has for your business. But between the fearmongering and the outdated information you may have come across, you’re not sure what the reality is anymore.  

As active participants in the African economy across more than 52 countries, Africa HR Solutions is here to help you paint a better picture of what the obstacles to growth in Africa really look like. 

As a bonus, we will also help you find out how to overcome them! 

1. Language barrier

It’s no secret that Africa is mostly divided between francophone and anglophone countries, as a result of colonization. So the answer would be to work with a translator or someone who is fluent in either language, correct?  

Unfortunately, things are not so simple.  

In some countries like Cameroon and Mauritius, English and French are both very commonly used. They are both used in business, whether formally or informally, in writing or in speech.  

Besides, there are the local languages to think of. In Botswana for instance, natives typically speak Setswana, while South Africa boasts a total of 12 official languages, including English.  

And while English or French are usually the main business languages, you must also consider the cultural aspect of speaking and understanding the local tongue. When doing business with and employing locals, using the commonly spoken language can help build closer-knit teams, and foster greater understanding between the employer and employees.  

Further down the line, this also helps prevent high employee turnover rates.  

How to overcome this barrier?

Working with a third-party service provider that can communicate in both English and French is imperative.  

Here at Africa HR Solutions, not only are our teams fully bilingual (English and French), but we also work with reliable local partners who have a sound understanding of the local culture and languages.  

This helps prevent pesky communication errors and create a more inclusive work environment.  

2. Currency exchange and inflation rate

Payments in a single country already prove to be a headache.  

Now imagine payments in multiple countries, each with their own exchange and inflation rates. On top of that, you must also include the time imperative in this equation. The final result? Late, inaccurate payments that haven’t been properly thought out and which are probably costing you much more than they should in terms of transaction fees.  

How to overcome this barrier?

Making payments in Africa, either in a single country or to other African nations, is a task best left to those with a sound understanding of local finance.  

Africa HR Solutions offers speedy cross-border payment solutions in Africa, ensuring accuracy and 100% compliance during transactions. The result? A worry-free and timely payment solution. 

3. Foreign policies and geopolitics

While the language barrier and payment options are issues that are very much within your control, there are larger issues that may come up as well.  

By larger issues, we mean large-scale geopolitics. This can include trade agreements, border or territorial acknowledgements, and climate agreements among other things.  

As a foreign-owned entity in an African country, your company will also be subject to foreign policy changes. At any moment, a new change can upset your manner of functioning or halt your business’s growth. 

How to overcome this barrier?

In these moments, as a business-owner, you must acknowledge that there is little you can do to change any laws that are passed. What you can do, on the other hand, is find out where there is room for interpretation and how far that law applies to you.  

A good understanding of local law is therefore crucial in those instances. Partnering with a PEO or an EOR like Africa HR Solutions may prove to be the best course of action, as we collaborate with local service providers. As such, we are able to offer you sound advice on how to move forward in the most optimal way. 

4. Talent onboarding and retention

While Africa is bursting with new and increasingly qualified talent, onboarding and retention can prove rather difficult. This is because, firstly, onboarding must be done in compliance with local legislation – a difficult task when one is first expanding to a new country.  

Secondly, employee retention can prove to be as difficult in Africa as it is elsewhere around the world. And, as previously mentioned, cultural differences can factor in quite significantly. 

How to overcome this barrier?

This particular barrier can be overcome by a better understanding of your workers. This includes understanding their motivations, their salary expectations, the relationship they want to have with their job, as well as cultural aspects surrounding work. In some countries for instance, it is customary for companies to pay out 13th month bonuses, even if it is not mandated by law.  

It is details and subtleties such as these which can help improve employee retention. 

5. Compliance

Many businesses tend to put compliance on the backburner when they expand to an African country. The understanding is that they will take care of compliance once everything else has been set up and business is running successfully.  

Unfortunately, these businesses often suffer the consequences of such a choice. When found in breach of local law, they can be fined or made to go through extensive legal proceedings, costing the company time, money and resources. Besides, non-compliance can also be damaging to a company’s reputation, making them appear less trustworthy to both investors and potential employees. 

How to overcome this barrier?

Compliance is a matter of expertise in local legislation. It can be difficult for new businesses to be 100% compliant, especially when they are trying to grow and make the expansion to Africa a success.  

Outsourcing compliance to a service provider, typically through an EOR or PEO offer, is often the best solution for new businesses. This frees up time and resources, allowing companies to focus on their core business without worrying about compliance. 

Table of Contents

Overcome all these obstacles with Africa HR Solutions

Ready to run on an obstacle-free course and head towards a successful expansion in Africa? Get in touch with one of our experts today!
Facebook
LinkedIn

Featured Blog Posts

GRANT GERAGHTY - Africa HR Team

GRANT GERAGHTY

HEAD OF CLIENT RELATIONSHIP

Grant Geraghty is the longest-serving member of the Africa HR team. This resident subject matter expert and client champion is responsible for gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ unique HR needs in Africa and providing tailored solutions that align with their business objectives. Grant collaborates closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements are properly implemented, providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.

Grant brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as Africa HR’s longest-serving employee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics and Business Finance, from the University of Natal in South Africa. Additionally, he has completed a certification program in Payroll and Tax Administration from the University of Cape Town, further enhancing his expertise in HR operations and compliance.

His commitment to delivering exceptional service and his extensive knowledge of HR in Africa make him an invaluable member of the Africa HR team.

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL Africa HR Team

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL

HEAD OF OPERATIONS

Kevina Takoordyal has a BA Hons Business Management from the University of Glamorgan, UK, with MBA in leadership and Innovation, MBA General, PMP Certified, and Agile Scrum Master. She currently works as the Head of Operations at Africa HR Solutions Ltd with more than 20 years of proven leadership capabilities in Operations, Business Development, People Management, Process Optimization, and Project Management in the Financial Services, BPO, Banking Industry, and Heath Care Industry. In Senior leadership roles with an international footprint across Europe working and extensive Pan- African experience from a compliance, finance, and operations angle, Kevina comes across with a panoply of cross-functional skills. Kevina also serves on a few Boards, Non-Independent Executive at MioD and for NGOs on a voluntary basis, a coach and mentor to aspiring female leaders across Africa and Mauritius.

Kevina is a firm believer in Servant Leadership with a strong focus and commitment to uplifting others, with the ability to deliver through a highly engaged – diverse team, and works towards consistently synergistic value creation. While being a focused and adaptive thinker and Kevina is actively participating in panel discussions on Innovation, CX, Digital transformation.

Kevina serves as Project Assessor for the National Youth upskilling program. She has been recognized as Global Talent in a few companies, Ceridian, and International SOS Ltd whereby she has been awarded a few scholarships and had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Vice President in the US. Award Winner in various fields and at a national level and recognized including Super Achiever Leader Award in Africa in 2016, Awarded Africa Women Leader 2018.

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE​

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE

Head of Finance & Business Support

Viloshna is an experienced finance professional with 18 years of expertise in strategic financial planning, financial analysis, cash flow management, systems and controls implementation, financial reporting, and continuous process improvements. She currently serves as Head of Finance & Business Support, where she has successfully automated and leveraged the financial reporting system capabilities to ensure efficient company operations.

Viloshna’s background includes senior roles in a multinational pharmaceutical company and a large listed Mauritian conglomerate. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic thinking have streamlined financial processes, making her a valuable addition to any finance team. Viloshna is a qualified finance professional with an FCCA qualification and an MBA, bringing valuable expertise to any organization.

In her current role, Viloshna leads the company’s Treasury and Payments function, including the fulfillment of the company’s cross-border payments into Africa. With her strong educational background and extensive experience, Viloshna consistently demonstrates her ability to optimize financial operations, minimize risks, and improve profitability. Her expertise in financial reporting and process improvements make her a valuable asset to any organization.

MARK DU PREEZ​

MARK DU PREEZ

Head of Legal & Compliance

A qualified lawyer who joined Africa HR Solutions in July 2020, Mark Du Preez has experience working in private practice for a reputable law firm in South Africa. He also played commercially focused roles at a leading private bank, wealth management company, and outsourcing firm in South Africa and Mauritius.

Mark has played a pivotal role in Africa HR Solution’s risk mitigation strategy, which positively impacted P&L performance over the years.

He currently leads the Partnerships function of the company including relationships and oversight with in-country partners (ICPs) across Africa.

Alex Daruty - Africa HR Team

ALEX DARUTY

Head of Commercial

Alex has more than 15 years of experience in the global, strategic development of both enterprise and consumer brands in categories including technology, transport, enterprise software, entertainment, and travel.

With experience in roles on both agency and corporate side, he has worked across international brands and has led the development and execution of multi-discipline campaigns across EMEA, NORAM and Asia Pacific.

His focus is on driving meaningful business impact through brand differentiation and building high-functioning, digitally oriented, and analytically driven capabilities. He is motivated by working with, and developing dynamic people, teams, and organizations.

He leads, manages, develops and mentors the Key Account Management department, including line management responsibility for the team of Key Account Managers and Key Account Administrator who represent the Company as the primary communication link between all relevant stakeholders, including clients, third party in-country partners and internal functions.

Originally from Mauritius, he holds bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Finance and Management from the University of Nevada, Reno.