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One of the toughest challenges African brands face is how to get themselves noticed on the global state where myriad brands are engaged in a cut-throat competition for consumers’ attention. With these challenges facing even the most established African firms, small businesses or startups face even harder times to make themselves visible in the global marketplace.
Many reasons have been cited for this state off affairs including lack of resources to roll out an international campaign to market themselves. Another common factor cited is the unavailability of a platform from where African brands can launch themselves on to the global stage.
These are the setbacks that SME Support Centre (SSC) seeks to address with the launch of a digital solution known as SME Blue Pages. The ambitious continental project seeks to showcase all the ‘made in Africa brands’.
The platform is backed by key strategic partners such as the African Union and the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI).
SSC says its mission is to scale up the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa using “simple, localised and sustainable solutions”, noting that the new platform will drive the visibility of all brands as well as innovations coming out of the continent.
“Together with key African partners, regional partners, country partners, trade partners we aim to make it the go to trade platform for all the innovative made-in- Africa brands,” SSC says on its website.
The aim of the platform, it notes, is to provide an aggregated brand exposure to the listed brands and provide a platform for each of them to further access global markets, investments and any other aggregated trade, logistics and advertising opportunities at affordable cost and ultimately enable them to scale.
SSC says it constantly seeks to innovate and develop many web-based platforms that ensure the SMEs in Africa are able to access information, skills, finance and markets.
Over the last three years, SCC says it has impacted more than 16,000 SMEs from across Africa through its initiatives and programmes.
SCC Chief Executive Officer Linda Onyango, says the SME Blue Pages affords African brands a global exposure by taking advantage of economies of scale to provide aggregated services.
MS Onyango said a survey revealed that the top three hurdles African SMEs confront are brand visibility, cost of advertising and logistics.
PACCI Executive Director Kebour Ghenna, said the SME Blue Pages initiative is in line with the regional chamber’s mandate “which is to stimulate trade and markets initiatives for African businesses”.
“We will similarly work with in-country chambers of commerce to get their African SMEs to enroll to the platform,” he said.
Ron Osman Omar, Officer in Charge, Trade and Industry Division, African Union, noted that the SME Blue Pages is a timely initiative that “augments our role in enhancing trade and markets initiatives for African businesses”.
“Together with SSC we will work with our regional economic blocs to get the African SMEs to
Ms Onyango said SSC recently brought together major players in the SME realm from government, various chambers of commerce, industry associations, trade commissions and private sector “for deeper interaction, engagement on all the SSC initiatives and adoption of a more ecosystem-wide approach to scale some of the innovative tech solutions they have developed”.
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