Tag: Europe

Nurturing relations for business and development

Nurturing relations for business and development

Growing supply and demand through business relations

No doubt, the toughest terrain in doing business is the Sub-Saharan region. The endless red taped bureaucracy, the myriad of licenses and permits, accessing capital, ridiculous legal costs for enforcing contracts. Actually, now that I am listing this, I realise the challenges are not different from doing business in Austria.

What makes doing business in Africa difficult is the high diversity of cultures, poor infrastructure and sourcing the right skilled workers. Let me add in poor time-keeping and keeping up with customer behaviour. How can you circumvent these barriers to enable smooth trading? The answer is: You cannot. Your best bet is to understand your target customer, find a trusted local partner and mirror the negotiation skills of an Asian trader.

Nevertheless, there appears to be a growing trend of European enterprises taking advantage of the mixed economic system, private freedom and rising middle class in Africa. Austria is slowly catching on to this trend and realising the potential high returns of investment in education, skills, health and off-grid renewable energy.

Do not fear the dominant presence of Chinese.

The Chinese trader does a very good job in manufacturing and infrastructure development. The quality levels remain a matter of debate. But you should know that the African consumer loves quality goods, which are affordable, durable and fitting to local needs. You have a great chance of winning the African consumer if you provide sustainable products or services. Very often, no-frills products without unnecessary features are enough to cater for the mass market.

Have patience.

You are on the path to sustainable profitability as long as you are persistent, resilient, own enough liquid cash flow, supported by trusted local partners, and have an understanding of the consumer, local cultures and market trends. Your chances of success are heightened further if you are trading with African countries led by governments that are accountable and pushing innovative industrialisation strategies. Take for example Mauritius or Rwanda.

Join the expanding network circles of Austria-Africa relations. 

Throughout September 2017, Austria offered an exciting programme of discussions, entertainment, education and training with a focus on business and development in Africa, including Aphropean Partners’ Frontiers of Dialogue, the Aussenwirtschafts Österreich’s Forum on Business and Development with focus on Africa, The African Gala 2017 hosted by the Diaspora, and so forth.

Building relations is the key to success. Together with strategic partners, we can help frame your understanding of the emerging and frontier market of Africa. Simply get in touch and email curious@aphropean.com for consultation and seminars.

What’s Better: Aid for Dependency or Trade for Stimulus?

What’s Better: Aid for Dependency or Trade for Stimulus?

Stimulus or

It’s not a secret that I am an advocate for trade rather than aid except in the occasions of force majeure.

Some of you may think it is easy for me to favour trade over aid in the comforts of an Austrian safety blanket. Nevertheless, I can reassure you that millions of internet-connected Africans exposed to the perception of them by high-income countries reject the reliance on foreign aid and pity.

Money alone does not solve the issues of brain-drained migration, security, climate change and weak governance. There are countless studies to show the high spikes of corruption levels upon receipt of aid money in countries with poor governance. Many foreign-funded orphanages resemble prisoner-of-war camps because managers pocket most monetary donations. Contributions in kind of equipment, materials, and supplies are either sold on or not suitable for local conditions, such as the hot, humid/dry climate and weak energy infrastructure and so forth.

The principal activities to finding solutions to stubborn global problems are constant open dialogue to foster knowledge exchange and international trade, particularly intra-regional trade to fuel economic progress for low-income countries.
Of course, other factors come into play to strengthen a strategic partnership for sustainable development, such as the accountability of African governments, European aid pushers or multinational corporations. However, both continents – young and old need each other to achieve sustainable growth, wealth, and development.

The Africa-EU Partnership reflects the commitment of both sides to work together on a strategic, equal, and long-term footing.

If managed well, the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership could facilitate favourable frameworks to mobilise all five capitals for individuals, enterprises, and institutions in both neighbouring continents to enable fair and mutual trade and cooperation.

Perhaps, you do not agree with my views – please get in touch. I always welcome a healthy debate!

The Business of Sustainability

The Business of Sustainability

Learn. Diversify. Adopt.

Distracted by the financial and migration crisis of the past few years has left Austrian businesses hard pressed to grow. Instead, many companies have been forced to become more risk averse, affecting the export market. But shying away from expanding into new markets will get us nowhere.

What it takes to gain an advantage.

It takes a risk taker armed with data, local partners and reliant cash flow to invest in the emerging markets successfully. So, it should not come to a surprise that the share of Austrian exports to Sub Saharan Africa peaked at 0.6% trade volume in 2016. That is not even 1%! Just imagine the benefits reaped from a monopolised position by these key players in Kenya, Nigeria, Kenya and other investment destinations.

Today’s climate presents an opportunity for you to increase revenues and profits in the long run. Austria’s well-funded program in start ups, green innovation, and digital solutions has made the execution of an internationalisation strategy easier today than yesterday. Now has come the right time to build on strategic partnerships, learn about options to diversify and adopt the smart business of sustainability.

Learn. Diversify. Adopt.

Among existing core strategies to develop your business, consider expanding to the sustainability market of developing countries. Sustainability is a trending element to innovative business models and ambiguous in the definition. In Europe, the ecological component of sustainability is of highest priority to manage climate change. In Africa, it is the economic part of sustainability that ranks first to improve the quality standards of living. But you probably know that.

At the upcoming Frontiers of Dialogue held on 7 September 2017, accompanied by a distinguished panel with Africa experience, we will explore together the opportunities and challenges of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Across Borders with a focus on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. As you look forward, consider sustainable business and CSR initiatives for growth to acquire new customers, build strategic partnerships, expand into new markets and new product/service additions.

Challenge the status quo.

To bridge the sustainability market with Africa, you need to understand the business conduct and market demands fully. Those of you who have already attempted trading in Africa: what your business did to be successful in the past might not be ideal to in the future. Africa is connected and enlightened today more than ever before.

The underserved markets of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa demands technology, know-how, and investments to develop in water and sanitation, agriculture, health, and education.

Too many Austrian businesses fail to realise the high potentials of combining business with sustainability and ethics to expand to Africa’s emerging markets. Of course, this comes with a higher level of risk taking, trust and understanding. The strategic and cross-cultural partnership is crucial to the success of international business relations. You need to have a knowledge of the sustainability market, opportunities and challenges of the underserved emerging markets in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Leverage on your strengths.

Austria should not be intimidated by uncertainty and the barriers set by China and the US. Instead, we should leverage our strengths of social capital, high-quality production of energy efficient solutions and knowledge-intensive services.

Let us challenge the conventional thinking about doing business in Africa by asking the right questions. Together we can increase our understanding of the international business of sustainability. We shall explore innovative solutions and ideas to bridging the sustainability market between Austria and Africa’s emerging markets.

Join the upcoming Frontiers of Dialogue on CSR Across Borders: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa held on 7 September 2017, 18:00h at the Salon Razumovsky, 1030 Vienna.
More info about the event.

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The Summer of Love in Europe

The Summer of Love in Europe

Views on the political dynamics of pro-European parties.

Along with sustainability, business and technology news, I like to keep informed on current international affairs. So, this post serves as an insight into the political dynamics in Europe.

The year 2017 appears to mark Europe’s summer of love.
Last year, following the Brexit and election of US President Trump, there was an overwhelming assumption that other countries, particularly Europe would follow suit in the wave of right-wing populism and nationalism.

History has shown us time and time again, that austerity breeds discontent towards migrants and the foreign. Some countries feared globalisation more than others, depending on the levels by which citizens, companies and countries around the world have become more interconnected through trade, investment and advances in technology.

Evidently, the political status quo and fear of mass migration triggered a global right-wing movement in Europe.


It was interesting to witness how the Austrian political showdown tried to emulate the unsavoury American style of debates, rhetoric and dirt digging. The far-right oriented Austria’s Freedom Party leader, Norbert Hofer put up a tough fight and retreated following a narrow win of the Pro-European Alexander van der Bellen, following the presidential elections on 4 December 2017.


Every country’s nationalist party should have a fair share of seats in the House of Representatives to protect the interest of tradition and domestic affairs. The Dutch nationalist Party for Freedom took it a step too far with constant feeds of anti-Islam propaganda, spearheaded by its sole member and controversial leader Geert Wilders. The world was surprised to learn of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy to win the general election, and this despite the opinion polls prediction to put the right-wing populist Party for Freedom in the lead for the election held on 15 March 2017.


The populist and nationalist-oriented party, True Finns had false hopes in winning the municipal election to draw out of the European Union and drive away all migrants. The National Coalition, a conservative but liberal and strongly pro-European Party eventually won the election held on 9 April 2017.


Effects of globalisation and prevalent anti-immigration rhetoric brought the largest far-right movement in Europe.
Marine Le Pen’s Front National party failed to live up to supporters’ expectations in a closely-watch French general election. Similarly experienced to the US presidential election of Barack Obama in 2008, newly elected French President and pro-European Emmanuel Macron brought hope. France dodged a right-wing nationalist bullet at the general election held on 7 May 2017.


Despite the burden of handling a steady flow of desperate refugees, Italy’s neo-fascist party, the Lega Nord lost its recent local election and prepared to charge ahead for the general election in 2018. Italy’s pro-European Democratic Party emerged as winners of the local election held on 25 June 2017.

Great Britain

Along with the American, British politics is truly show business for ugly people. Current Prime Minister and Conservative Theresa May faced a humiliating defeat against Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn who won 10% growth voters confidence; an achievement last experienced in 1945. The recent election appeared to be more about inequality than the nationalistic movement that led to Brexit. According to multiple poll surveys, the average Labour voters represented high-income, and highly educated demographic and Conservative voters represented the working class with only secondary school education. Usually, it’s the other way round …
The UK general election held on 8 June 2017 was overwhelmingly voted by the British wishing to remain in union with Europe.


The nationalist-populist party Alternative für Deutschland along with all other alternative parties have a slim chance of moving German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the throne. Since 2005, the Christian Democratic Union has managed to bring the German economy to a leading position in the world, along with 6% drop in unemployment and a largely multicultural and family-oriented democracy.
Who in their right frame of mind wants to vote against a stable and predictable Merkel economy? We will find out in the German general election held on 24 September 2017.

Austerity breeds populism.

Across the world, people are fed up with the political status quo.  The effects of globalisation in Europe swing in favour of anti-immigration, anti-Islam and Euroscepticism. Also, emerging technology is to blame for the harsh transition of replacing labour with automation across all sectors.

Instilling fear, uncertainty and doubt through populist rhetorics achieve an abundance of votes in the short term. Evidently, love and sensibility trumps hate and ignorance in Europe. Many of us, including the most sensible right-wing conservative, can relate to the fact that immigration brings innovation and diversity.

The European Union brings security and international trade.

International trade which is associated with globalisation has been a practice for centuries. Countries need access to goods and service they don’t have or cannot produce. There are two ways to gain access; either through trade or conflict.
Which would way would you rather?

How Business Regulates Migration

How Business Regulates Migration

The private sector’s capacity to regulate migration 

Migration is a key driver of sustainable development in all aspects of our lives. And yet, most governments across Europe and the USA shun away from publically announcing integration initiatives to avoid political discontent.

Unnecessary time and money are wasted on policies to stem migration which will only encourage human smugglers and benefit business who employ undocumented migrants and refugees to avoid complying with existing pay and working conditions.

Civil societies and think tanks have been servicing governments with data, insights and proposals. In recent years, social enterprises and CSR-driving initiatives have emerged to absorb the migration flow. Take for example the Hotel Magdas in Vienna, which offer jobs and training to multilingual ex-refugees. Other exemplary companies among many, which offer internships and scholarships to young migrants are Siemens, the Deutsche Telekom and Bosch Group.

Meanwhile, there is a number but enough recruitment agencies specialising in trending jobs for refugees such as cleaning, mechanical engineering and nursing.

Shrinking Europe. Expanding Africa

Did you know that in the 1950’s, Italy had a population size of 47 million and Nigeria less than 30 million? Fast forward to present times, Italy expanded to 60 million and Nigeria to a whopping 180 million people.

Despite the proximity to Europe and Africa, both continents face contrary issues regarding population and economic lifecycle. In Europe, it appears that people are giving up on sex. Despite a rising life expectancy, the average population are too busy to procreate. Africa seems to demonstrate the correlation between being idle, low life expectancy and increasing fertility rate; so much so that most of the continent may not be able to create enough jobs to absorb emerging talents.

What can businesses in Europe do to help reverse the exodus?

Civil societies, governments and businesses in Europe need to collude in finding solutions to absorb the migration flow. Creating a gated European community will not work in the long run. A more proactive approach, among others, would be to incentivise CSR initiatives that extend beyond borders.

We already know the reasons for the migration phenomenon including consistent climate change and people wanting a better life without having to shed blood, etc.

Small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs can help with inventions and profit from supplying sustainable goods and services, such as cleantech solutions, low-cost off-grid energy generators and overall skill development to empower the youths in developing countries.

Multinationals have the corporate muscle to contribute to sustainable economic development, and to improve the quality of life for employees, their families, their communities at home and beyond borders.

According to Alessandro Cenderello, Managing Director of Ernst & Young Europe: “If managed well, migration can play a decisive role in economic development and civil society. Many economists argue that migration presents a potential solution to the impending challenge of Europe’s ageing population. [..] Furthermore, the inflow of new talent and skills can stimulate growth in entrepreneurship and the establishment of new businesses, as evidenced in North America and elsewhere.” You can read more about the EY perspective by clicking here.

Throughout the history of humanity, the migration phenomenon had a tendency to ebb and flow. Back then, immigration was controlled by integration through the help of a Marshall plan, assistance of neighbours, balance of education and welfare. Just think of Ireland, Singapore and Hong Kong.

It’s just my view. An Aphropean View.

Waste Business is Serious Business

Waste Business is Serious Business

Waste management is not a new concept in Africa. In fact, recycling and disposing of waste for profit is rather a promising business opportunity for a continent of more 1.2 billion people. In Europe, where waste disposal and water treatment is centred on economic impact, Africa weighs its focus more on economic (profit) and social impact (health).

European entrepreneurs and businesses have made substantial progress in turning waste into a resource. Some initiatives are promoting sustainable ways of waste management, along with frameworks that drive environmental performance. Europe INNOVA estimated that resource efficiency improvements all along the value chains could represent an overall savings potential of €630 billion per year for European industry.

We do not have a clue what the saving potentials are for African industries. Nobody has figured it out. We can agree the abundant opportunities for job creation and poverty reduction by creating new markets for recycling products for as long as possible. In addition to an improved environmental performance of Africa’s biodiversity and water quality, people reap the health benefits from appropriate waste disposal and water treatment.

On 4 May, #FOD17 Frontiers of Dialogue panellists share insights on the role of technology driving environmental performance, key trends, the opportunities and challenges this presents in African countries. Get inspired and engage with Vienna’s international community by reserving your place.

Looking forward to your comments and a fruitful debate at the upcoming #FOD17 Frontiers of Dialogue.


Rita Isiba
Your Aphropean Partner

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At the forefront of Profitable Sustainability

At the forefront of Profitable Sustainability

What is profitable sustainability?

The business of sustainability includes all players from the social entrepreneur providing innovation to the government providing a framework and incentive capital.

Also known as corporate sustainable profitability, CSP revolves around the idea that companies who take responsibility from an economical, environmental and social perspective can become more profitable (Wikipedia).

Committed to promoting sustainable business and commerce.

Aphropean Partners celebrate initiatives of enterprises and entrepreneurs, who successfully combine financial, social and environmental objectives to make an impact.

Together with strategic partners, Rita Isiba sources enterprises and organisations based in the DACH region with a mission to

1) meet social objectives: Businesses adopting social responsibilities extended to employees, the community at home and beyond borders. For example skills development and job creation;

2) meet environmental objectives: Businesses aiming to drive environmental performance, through management systems and technology, such as the prevention or reduction of pollution, noise reduction, etc.;

3) meet financial objectives: Profit and growth maximisation is crucial for businesses to trade and access emerging technology and unique resources in their favour.

Challenge is nothing more than the seed of opportunity

Social entrepreneurs and CSR-driven corporations make money out of solving problems. There appears to be no shortage of social problems, and so the opportunities are almost limitless. Problem-solving is a team sport and requires collaboration from all sectors including private, public and civil societies.

  • Governments and municipalities have the financial means and power to improve ease of business and set the right legal and fiscal framework to allow for impact.
  • Intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations provide capacity building programs and market analysis.
  • Multinational corporations have the resources (human, intelligent, capital, structure) and data to meet development goals.
  • Small-medium enterprises and entrepreneurs tend to be exposed to customers and networks on a grass root level. This enables them to fabricate innovative solution in terms of a disruptive business model, sustainable product or service.

So the principle of profitable sustainability is the collaborative and engaging partnership with all major stakeholders to positively impact profits, people, and the planet for this generation and beyond.

Aphropean Partners acts as an agent for enterprises to promote and help foster collaborations between Africa and Europe for skills development programs, research project cooperation, CSR program opportunities to address Africa’s environmental issues, which are strongly related to social and economic issues. 

Sharing is Caring

Business networks are often more effective than organisations, and so we host the four-part event series #FOD17 Frontiers of Dialogue for entrepreneurs, executives and professionals in Europe exploring sustainable business opportunities in Africa’s emerging markets. A panel of leaders of thought and practice with Africa experience exchange views on matters concerning business, technology and current affairs in the context of profitable sustainability.

Frontiers of Dialogue helps to expand the understanding of the African consumer, their needs and trends. Participants interact and build relations to actively engage on the internationalisation of their business to the top economies of Sub-Saharan Africa.

In complement of the events is Aphropean Views, a weekly newsletter for all subscribers to Aphropean partners. What better way to learn and share the latest trends, ideas, insights and news through #AphropeanViews?


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