11 September 2017

Building businesses of scale in sub-Saharan Africa

How can we ensure the continent is able to create jobs on the scale it needs?

We commissioned this report from the Africa Programme at Chatham House, which identifies policy options for governments, businesses, and investors to support the scaling up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in four sub-Saharan African countries – Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Zambia. It highlights what’s needed to help businesses grow to become important in their region and provide formal jobs to rapidly expanding young populations.

With at least 15 million people entering the labour market every year across Africa, it’s vital that African businesses grow and create the quantity and quality of jobs needed. To produce this report, Developing Businesses of Scale in Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights from Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, researchers conducted interviews with owners and managers of over 60 businesses across the four countries.

Murray Grant, Managing Director, Intermediated Equity, said: “This report highlights some inspiring stories of individuals successfully growing and scaling their businesses in Africa. But it also acknowledges that if we’re to tackle the chronic need for formal jobs, we need to understand the practical constraints holding back the continent.”

Murray says the report underlines what we’ve learnt over our history of investing in African countries: “A shortage of skilled management is a large barrier to business growth. There is plenty of potential on the continent but talent needs to be properly harnessed if small and medium-sized companies are to scale up and create the quantity and quality of jobs needed.”

The report was launched at Chatham House in London in September 2017.