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Africa is the new Asia.

With ICT infrastructure and legislative structure being developed, the world’s eyes are on this region being the new marketplace for Business Process Outsourcing and Online Business transactions.

There is money to be made by individuals and businesses in Africa. Any visionary business owner with a web presence will tell you that within the last year or so, they have been courted by the dozens by suitors from Asia, The US and yes, even India.

To illustrate business partnerships, I will refer to two corporations X and Y, herein after referred to as Chanda and Pete.

Business matchmaking is the process by which one puts together one business with another for the sake of a common goal or aim, essentially to make profit.

There are various methods with which an organisation can find a forum to meet and interact with local and international organisations. This normally takes place through:
1. B2B Meetings
2. Business Expos
3. Direct Contact Between organisations
4. Linkage through Equity and Investment funding organisations

These various methods allow one to meet and evaluate a mutual market need which, through synergy, both parties can fulfil.

Before getting that ring on your finger though, you must consider very carefully exactly what you are in for. One must look very at every aspect of what the relationship entails.

Meaningful business partnerships enable organisations to succeed and grow. But one must be selective in choice of partners.

1. Mutual Interest.
To make your match, they must complement you, enable you to have a sustainable competitive advantage in your market niche. Any other partner will be a distraction and will only dissuade you from your business goals. An obvious example is if Chanda’s core business is the sale of computers, a partnership with Pete who deals exclusively in farm implements would be a business distraction.

2. Formalise.
Having determined the need, there must be an explicit and legal agreement between parties.
This defines the terms of engagement and expectations and ensure that both Chanda and Pete are happy in their engagement. ( Pun intended ).
The most common form of partnerships involves:
– Joint Ventures
– Mergers
– Outsourcing
– License production
– Long term project co-operation
– Market collaboration / development

Your objectives as a business must be clear beforehand, and clearly explained to the other party for you to determine the right business vehicle for partnership. This therefore means that one requires having a long term view of the business.

At this point national and international legal issues may arise and one should seek the help and direction of legal and advisory consultancy bodies like Viva Africa Consulting, Fanisi Trust and other like bodies, who have specialised in providing such services .

The advise they will provide will enable the selection of the best engagement to make. Chanda may not necessarily require a joint Venture Agreement with Pete, but may only require a reseller agreement.

Corporate Lawyers will, through the state’s legislative mechanisms, then provide the necessary legislative documentation to validate your relationship.

3. Complement Each Other!
The partners must work together at all stages of the venture to ensure that their goals are met, depending on their agreements.

4. Share.
The fourth element of successful business matchmaking as in human relationships is shared resources and materials. This also goes hand in hand with proper communication. Chanda and Pete must talk all the time, and inform each other of the highs and lows of business dynamics so that they may have a sustainable and profitable long term relationship.

Proper communication cushions both businesses in case of death of one business or hostile takeover by a third party or other market changes that may interfere with the relationship.

5. Respect and Trust.
The fifth,and definitely not least element in business matchmaking is Respect and Trust. Both businesses and individuals interacting therein must respect and trust the other, as the whole concept of working together belies a need for the other that one lacks and the other fulfils.
This role must never be downplayed and this respect and trust must be maintained and honoured for the business relationship to remain profitable.



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