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Software in Africa: 8 Lessons a UK Company Took to Enter Ethiopia

Business in Africa

November 25, 2020

My husband owns a small tech company in Ethiopia. For years, he has received calls from companies all across the world (mostly India) who want to sell their software in Africa– especially Ethiopia.

With over a 100 million people, and the second most populated country in Africa, international businesses can earn huge by selling to Ethiopia (and of course, other African countries).

A few things to note.

1) Most software sales are hard to do in Ethiopia. Tech companies find it hard to charge annual licenses to local companies who are often uninterested in yearly payments.

2) Hard currency is limited so while some big companies will buy from you, the average company can’t.

3) The most popular software in Ethiopia is Peachtree that people torrent for free. That tells you everything you need to know…

However, despite all of this, software does have some great potential in Ethiopia.

And unlike, the hopeless companies calling my husband, here’s the genius strategy that a UK software company is using to enter the market.

Software in Africa, A picture of Ethiopia on the Map of Africa

8 Steps to Selling Your Software in Africa

This is based on a UK company that I am currently helping bring to market. Their strategy for introducing their software into Ethiopia is so smart and has so many lessons for other companies.

1) The UK software company is one of the leads in their industry and their clients are large government offices around the world.

Lesson: Target big companies or the government when selling software in Ethiopia.

2) The UK Software company knew that cold calling doesn’t work well here. Business is all about trust. Which means, they needed to find a personal connection. So they contacted a British businessman who lives in Ethiopia.

Lesson: Find a person who can introduce you to your intended client.

3) The British businessman knew which office would be interested, but he didn’t know anyone there. So he contacted me.

I’ve been in Addis Ababa for almost seven years, and have some great connections.

Lesson: Most likely, multiple brokers will be involved when doing any kind of business in Africa.

4) I connected the British man to someone I know who used to work at that government office and also knows the head director.

Lesson: You need to find brokers who have connections with the decision-makers.

5) My contact met the director in person, and as it turned out, the government office was actually looking for that exact type of software. They were already exploring the different options.

My contact was then told to meet with their tech team to explain the benefits and specs.

Lesson: By proactively getting their software to their attention, the UK company is already ahead of the other companies.

6) The UK company is sending their representative to meet with the head of the government office ASAP.

Lesson: If you really want to stand a chance, an introductory call, email or Zoom really doesn’t suffice. Meetings, especially sensitive ones like this, are done in person.

As soon as the UK company had an initial meeting booked, they put someone on a plane to Addis.

7) The UK company is willing to pay a handsome commission to both the British businessman, myself, and the Ethiopian contact. Additionally, because the Ethiopian man is really the face-to-face contact that is most crucial, they also offered him a generous consulting fee.

The consulting fee is brilliant because it keeps the Ethiopian man engaged throughout the entire process. He will help their team understand the cultural business do’s and don’ts. And will also put personal pressure on his old colleagues to see all the advantages of this UK company over the others.

Lesson: People are more motivated to help you, when you pay.

8. The UK company is one of the leaders in their industry. The Ethiopian government office is actually already using another similar software (I won’t say who…), but the British one tops it by far. It has more capabilities, features, and much needed support than the current sofware they are using.

Lesson: You still need to have a good product.

Want more information on selling software in Africa–specifically Ethiopia? Download this free cheat sheet to see the most popular Government offices in Ethiopia, and recommended types of companies who could be your next customer.

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Ways to help in Africa

Travel Africa

Invest in Africa

Business in africa

Categories

Reading suggestions

8 Reasons not to volunteer in Africa

Invest in Ethiopia:
21 Tips for 2021 

My STORY in Africa: How I Began

tell me more...

I'm Valerie — Here to help you take your first step to africa.