Incubator for foreign companies, the new way to Africa
As a foreign investor in Africa, you need access to information, network, expertise and offices. These are the four conditions granted by an incubator for foreign companies so you can access the market and start your activity in the best conditions.
Until recently, you would find information on internet, network in the Chambres of Commerce, expertise via some referred lawyers or agents and office solutions in of the numerous co-working spaces. Unfortunately, the information on internet is not always verified; the Covid-19 has put an end to most of the networking events; the referred local suppliers are often driven by a one-off sale rather than the success of your project; and the co-working spaces are selling a lifestyle rather than meeting the companies’ needs.
A good incubator will give you access to information, network expertise and offices all at once, in the same place. Now, let’s talk about the incubators dedicated to foreign companies in Africa…
As a foreigner, you need to find out reliable information
Africa has become the new growth potential for the world economy, but its business environment remains challenging. You need reliable partners and a stimulating environment to put your business on the right track. It is only through a solid business network that you will be able to get different feedbacks on a same issue. And this is how you will forge yourself a valuable opinion.
Yet, East Africa and Kenya particularly is a challenging business environment. Lack of clear information and complex administrative processes may result in lengthy setbacks when setting up your business. For instance, registering an entity or getting your work permit are necessary steps to be addressed right from the beginning. But the lengthy and complicated process may often make you lose momentum.
But then, how do you access a business network? This is where business clubs, chambres of commerce, accelerators or even executive programs come into play. The role of those structures is to help newcomers save time and network with people who are already in the environment for some time.
Join a business community to strengthen your network
Though difficulties may significantly vary on the type of business, all expatriates usually end up facing the same. As all business owners will tell you, networking is of primary importance when you start on a new market. This is especially true in East Africa. “Take time to test your market, not your administrative skills” is an advice expatriates often give each other.
An incubator for foreign companies is no exception as it gives you access to a business community through its membership. They can organise events with speakers on specific thematics, pitches from entrepreneurs, introductions from officials, sectorial updates from experts, etc. They can also put you in touch with other members fo their networks to help your business grow.
Incubators allow many players to meet around to speak about the market they share; all the more so as incubators are generally in touch with several industries, thus favouring the synergy of skills and business opportunities. Synergies are at the center of what the business incubators offer to their clients, it is an accelerator. Looking for synergies is also something that drives incubators in the way they provide expertise to their members.
Incubators provide onsite expertise…
An incubator for foreign companies is meant for organisations and professionals who are looking for some support before diving alone into East Africa. In general, a company seeks external expertise for the creation of their local entity and then for their administrative compliance. This way, they can focus on their core activity as soon as possible.
As a result, a company will soon start looking into outsourced support in Human resources and Accounting. We all know the limits of outsourcing. Especially when your supplier is on the other side of town and you can only contact him over the phone or by email. This is why the incubators have such a competitive edge on any other co-working space! Because they provide onsite what their customers need. They match the demand. It is definitely a strong asset for a newcomer in Kenya; to be able to outsource the support functions while having their supplier in the same premises. No recruitment but a physical presence in your office, basically the best of two worlds.
…which is so much more than just an office space
Co-working spaces allows people to work together under one roof while using the same resources. This concept helped million companies around the globe to reduce their fixed costs. But at the end of the day, a co-working is just a way of saving money. An incubator does the same while also adding services that substantially increase your performance.
Renting a traditional office is also a solution that some entrepreneurs may choose in order to be independent. But on top of high initial costs, this strategy also limits your flexibility. Indeed, you will have to engage in a commercial lease agreement with strict conditions and legal exposure. You may prefer some flexibility at the beginning, until you have confirm your growth sustainability.
Lessons from Covid-19 and our working habits
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the business world and every company has had to adapt its working ways. Remote working and home office have very often been the solution chosen by companies and professionals to avoid spreading the virus. Those new ways of working put emphasis on the capacity of the worker to work on his own and offices have been empty for a long time. The complexity of working alone have been the root cause of the birth of the co-working industry.
Coming back to the office may never be the same after the Covid. In this regard, incubators allow a more flexible approach to work both for companies and employees. Flexibility permitted by incubators and communal spaces is nowhere near old fashioned office renting rigidity.
Incubators offers the possibility of constantly adapting your office space by renting it for a day, a month or even a year. You can also rent meeting rooms or conference rooms on demand, for a day or two. Same for your team meetings, corporate trainings, etc. These rentals are also modular, constantly adaptable in terms size, layout and equipment (conference room, video-projector, printers, etc.).
Having a contract that allows you to organise a recruitment session just for a day in a meeting room inside an incubator is more attractive than doing so in an hotel or in deserted offices. Flexibility and dynamism are base value for incubators, they resonate with the need of modern workers and business.
The incubator for foreign companies is the best way to avoid drawbacks that threaten foreign investments in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Information, Networking, Expertise and Office flexibility are the four pillars of incubators that are fundamental for growing a business in East Africa. And if you are planning to establish in Nairobi, did you hear about BIZWIZ Kenya?