Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) hold the key to Africa's growth, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), DHL Express for sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Charles Brewer, said. The private BusinessDay reported Tuesday that the CEO supports the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which forecasts economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014 to be slightly higher than 2013.
“This growth, coupled with the more than one billion consumers on the continent who spend US$600 billion annually, as well as having the fastest growing middle class in the world, and the significant opportunity that connecting with the world represents, provides African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with boundless opportunities in 2014,? Brewer said.
He said the growing Internet user penetration in Africa also provides a sizable opportunity for SMEs, and that as Africa continues to adopt e-commerce as a way of life, businesses are able to leverage this online market, while reducing traditional customer acquisition costs.
Mr. Brewer identified major challenges which SMEs are likely to face in Africa to include infrastructure, customs regulations and access to finance.
He however said despite these challenges, SMEs can create growth opportunities through consumer spending power and expansion into untapped markets.
“When it comes to global opportunities the key to success for many SMEs is knowledge. Knowing which markets to target, how to market their product, how to identify customers, how to get paid and critically, how to ship globally.
“We have 25,000 SMEs who work with us across Africa and every day we work on understanding their needs better and help them to go global. DHL is well-positioned to partnering with African SMEs and helping them to connect with the world,” Brewer said.
Africa’s middle class has tripled over the last 30 years, and the current trajectory suggests that the African middle class will grow to 1.1 billion in 2060.