Breaking into South Africa

5 tips to get you started

So you want to grow your business in an emerging market.  With only a 1-hour time difference and English being a common business language, South Africa seems a logical option.  So how do you go about it?

Last month I discussed the key tips to consider for breaking into an emerging market; breaking into an emerging market

Here are a few considerations for growing your business in South Africa in 2018.

A newly elected party leader brings with it new promises of fiscal discipline to (amongst others) state-owned enterprises.  Early reports indicate a positive impact on business confidence.  This chart shows the key forecast indicators:


Overview Actual Q1/18 Q2/18 Q3/18 Q4/18
GDP Growth Rate 2.00 1.1 1.1 2.7 1.9
Unemployment Rate 27.70 28 27.8 27.1 26
Inflation Rate 4.60 4.7 5 5.1 5.2
Interest Rate 6.75 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.75
Balance of Trade 13024.40 3302 2482 1820 472
Government Debt to GDP 51.60 54 54 54 54


On the international level, South Africa has been ranked 61st on the Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018 and remains one of the most competitive countries in Sub-Saharan African.

Doing Business Report 2018 and Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2017, South Africa has been ranked 82nd and 6th respectively.

With a promising outlook, in terms of new business development, what really works in South Africa?   Our experience shows that traditional approaches in new business development activity yields good results;

  • Research: social and online research are very useful sources in building up a picture of the market place and key players within various regions and sectors.
  • Social media: with 69% of business in emerging markets employing social media, Linkedin is providing a valuable tool in raising awareness of your business.  Additionally, once established, it offers great opportunities for connecting and engaging your prospects.
  • Telemarketing: capitalising on extensive research and implementing intelligent telemarketing strategies to ensure your communication is expressed in the right manner, key contacts are not only confirmed, they are engaged and ready to meet.
  • Email: after engaging your prospects follow up emails enable continuous communication and the ability to further inform prospects before that all-important meeting.  Of course only once you have obtained their permission.
  • Direct follow up: pre-, during and post contacts are vital to ensure that awakened interest is maintained.


These new business development points may seem relatively straight forward.  However, do not be fooled.  Getting this right takes a great amount of time and if not done properly will waste your money, time and effort.

Going back to my article from last month – you need to have the information to hand to optimise your existing business plan to suit the needs of the South African marketplace.  Truly understanding what, say, technology limitations there are, what cultural nuances you need to take into consideration, what contact strategies work well/what do not, all matter greatly.  Do you know this? Do you have time to research this? Is it more cost effective to engage an intermediary who has knowledge on the ground. These are key questions you need to ask yourself when building your emerging market growth strategy – especially for South Africa.

With an average of 7-10 touchpoints required for any new sale, you need to ensure you communicate consistently whilst maintaining interest.

Like this article?  Have any questions or comments? let’s talk.  Call me today on 01865 893219/00447884357187 to discuss business development in emerging markets.


Filed under: News on May 10th, 2018 by Melanie Hill