A while back, I posted this article describing the criteria I was looking for in regards to a new place to live, listing out the various countries and regions in the world, and which ones I felt were good places and bad places to live in. In that article, I made this single statement that generated a lot of questions and emails from you:

Africa. If I was younger, I would definitely move to Africa. There is huge opportunity for an aggressive, business-minded white person to make massive amounts of money there in relatively short periods of time. However, while I’m not old yet, I’m not young any more. I’m at a place in life where Africa would be too much adventure, at least for me.

I’ve received a lot of questions regarding more specifics about what exactly I was saying.

Africa, if you can handle it’s uncomfortable, difficult, third world environment, is a land of huge opportunity for the smart, agile, hard working Westerner. This is even truer if you are white. However, even if you’re not white (you’re Asian, Hispanic, Indian, etc), you’ll still be ahead of the curve there. Even if you’re black, if you were born and raised in the West, speaking those languages and using those skills, you’ll have a huge edge over just about everyone doing business and buying products and services in Africa. Here are the reasons why.

1. Unlike in the West and most other parts of the world, you can become a big fish in a small pond very quickly. If you go start a business over in Africa, because of your Western race, background, knowledge, language, and connections, you will be able to go from zero to the money much faster than you typically could in the West or in Asia. While Africa is a very big place and it’s hard to generalize, speaking very generally, Africans are hungry to do business with Westerners, and will often prefer to do business with Westerners in many scenarios.

Your ties to Western businesses, contacts, banks, and resources will also give you a leg up on any competition you encounter in Africa, since most Africans have no access to any of those things beyond basic internet access (and sometimes not even then).

2. Africa, or at least certain parts of it, has a much higher potential for growth than most of the developed world. People forget that just a few decades ago, places like Dubai, Singapore, and Hong Kong were barren shitholes. Look at them today. You’re not going to see this kind of growth in the already developed parts of the world like the US (which is lucky to get a pathetic 2% growth per year) or Europe (which is experiencing negative growth; i.e. it’s dying right before our very eyes). But in Africa, where it’s mostly third world chaos, there is huge potential for this kind of growth. In some parts of Africa, growth is very likely.

3. Many parts of Africa are hungry for basic infrastructure; infrastructure that you can help provide, and make piles of cash in the process. Roads. Bridges. Internet. Wifi. Water. Electricity. Sewer. Cell phones. Health care. Nike shoes. Etc. Africa is hungry for all the basic things you and I take for granted. If you can help provide any of these things, even in a small way, or even help provide products or services to the companies already providing these things, you’re going to make a lot of money pretty damn fast. China is already making a fortune providing the Africans with basic infrastructure. There’s no reason an individual, Alpha 2.0, hard working entrepreneur can’t do the same.

Where To Go?

Africa is huge. There are 54 friggin’ countries there. I have a few ideas on where I would go, but I’m not an Africa expert, so I’ll let Doug Casey give the more specific advice here, since he knows more about this than I do. Here’s what he’s said in the past:

Other than South Africa, I’d say Botswana is the most developed country in Southern Africa for sure. But where would I go now? Well, of course, the nice thing about Africa is that it’s divided basically into three parts, Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, and Lusophone Africa, and my French is still adequately conversational. I lived in France and Switzerland for a year during college. My Spanish is functional. The language thing is a consideration of course. But on the other hand, most of the educated people in most countries of the world speak English, which is the world’s lingua franca today.

Where would I go? There are around 50 countries in Africa. I like small, obscure ones. Maybe Ghana is too developed. Look at Benin or Togo or maybe the Ivory Coast. Mauritania, where I just was, is actually quite interesting. Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, you’ve got lots of choices. Somebody should get on a plane and just take a look. Then when they get into a country, a capital city, which is always where the action happens, get on the telephone to local lawyers and real estate agents and businessmen to set up appointments and see who you can get along with. One thing will lead to another.

I wouldn’t go to Africa as a lifestyle choice. I would go there for economic reasons and for the adventure that it would yield. I’d say as a lifestyle choice, it comes down to South America or the Orient. I lived in the Orient for years and I loved it.

If you’re considering moving to Africa to make some money there, here’s what I would recommend:

1. Spend some time doing some internet research on some infrastructure-related ideas you could get started with very cheaply, even if it was something as simple as consulting. Come up with three business ideas, but don’t “wed” yourself to them. Just keep them as ideas.

2. Do some internet research and go visit at least three African countries that seem interesting to you. Visit their largest city, which is usually their capital. You want to avoid the ones that are more fully developed (South Africa, Botswana, Algeria, etc) and the ones that are dangerous (Zimbabwe, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, etc)

3. As Doug said, visit with local businessmen, lawyers, real estate agents, and if you can, their equivalent of a local chamber of commerce, if such a thing exists (and it probably won’t, but maybe you could start one!). Get a feel for what the locals there need. Then start your business based on that.

4. Try to keep the business Alpha 2.0 compatible. That means avoiding employees, keeping the income location independent once the business is up and running, etc.

Good luck! If I was in my 20’s, that’s exactly where I’d go to get my first (or second, or third) business started… Africa.

22 thoughts on “Business Opportunities in Africa

  1. Your sex life in Africa is a completely different topic. Obviously that would be extremely complicated and not ideal. If you were to move to Africa to make money for, say, 3 years, your sex life would not be your priority during that time; money would be. (Just like my sex life was certainly not my priority in my early 20’s when I was building my financial infrastructure.)

  2. Wow!

    Didn’t expect you to write an entire post on this.

    Thank you for such valuable information.

  3. Spot on Caleb. I live in Sierra Leone. Born and raised in the UK, returned when I was 9 with my Mum and sister 16 years ago.

    Who makes money in SL? The Lebanese, Indians, Chinese and foreigners. They own most of the new businesses, are the consultants and get the contracts. Us the locals are too busy fighting to emigrate or scrambling for a desk job.

    It’s like the wild west out here, if you play your cards right you can strike big in Africa(Frank Timis comes to mind)

    @Shayme, western game works here, plus anything goes if you have a few pennies in your pocket and are not black.

  4. @Axel,

    I would like to own real estate in Freetown, specifically Aberdeen. Would you reccomend it to a young American man who wanted to break into the emerging healthcare industry there?

  5. My father has businesses in Nigeria in the technology and infrastructure industries. He works  with both private companies and with the government. One thing that is important to understand is that doing business in Africa is really really hard. Rule of law, property rights, courts, banks, and operate in a completely different manner. Contracts gets stolen, payments are almost always late, bank loan rates are astronomical, property will be stolen by squatters if you don’t guard it, connections are needed to get things done, internet and electricity are terrible, and most people who have lived there for a while have been held hostage for ransom (my father has) and/or know people who have been. Sure, Nigeria may be one of the tougher than average African countries, but it is also the one with the biggest reward. Plus, in general, the countries in Africa with the biggest rewards will be the most corrupt.

     

    In my opinion, the vast majority of Westerners are simply not tough enough to survive in the harsh African environment. If you feel uncomfortable treating and giving bribes, telling people with sob stories to fuck off, or having things just not work the majority of the time you are going to have a good time in most African countries. The risk to reward/opportunity ratio is not nearly as good as Asia which is also growing very fast, but has much better infrastructure and a much bigger more interconnected market. Even though I have family and connections in Africa myself I’m in Asia because the business opportunities are much better here IMO.

  6. Who makes money in SL? The Lebanese, Indians, Chinese and foreigners. They own most of the new businesses, are the consultants and get the contracts. Us the locals are too busy fighting to emigrate or scrambling for a desk job.

    It’s like the wild west out here, if you play your cards right you can strike big in Africa(Frank Timis comes to mind)

    Yep, I’ve heard similar stories from other guys in Africa (though not all places in Africa), in that the foreigners are the ones making the money. Exactly.

    One thing that is important to understand is that doing business in Africa is really really hard.

    It is, but read Axel’s comment right above yours. In many countries in Africa (not all, but some), there’s great opportunity for a Westerner who doesn’t mind working very hard.

    Rule of law, property rights, courts, banks, and operate in a completely different manner. Contracts gets stolen, payments are almost always late, bank loan rates are astronomical, property will be stolen by squatters if you don’t guard it, connections are needed to get things done, internet and electricity are terrible, and most people who have lived there for a while have been held hostage for ransom (my father has) and/or know people who have been. Sure, Nigeria may be one of the tougher than average African countries,

    Yeah, you’re describing Nigeria, not every country in Africa. As I said, some countries will be more difficult than others.

    The risk to reward/opportunity ratio is not nearly as good as Asia which is also growing very fast, but has much better infrastructure and a much bigger more interconnected market. Even though I have family and connections in Africa myself I’m in Asia because the business opportunities are much better here IMO.

    I agree 100% with you that there’s more growth in Asia, and that Asia is less brutal; that’s why I’m focusing on Asia rather than Africa myself. But I’m a guy in his mid-40’s who has as already accomplished most of his financial goals, is looking to wind down in a few years, and isn’t looking to conquer the world. If instead I was a young guy in his 20’s, at the start of my financial life, and ready for some hard work and high rewards, Africa would be the place. (Not all of Africa, just the easier / safer areas.)

  7. Africa. If I was younger, I would definitely move to Africa. There is huge opportunity for an aggressive, business-minded white person to make massive amounts of money there in relatively short periods of time. However, while I’m not old yet, I’m not young any more. I’m at a place in life where Africa would be too much adventure, at least for me.

    For me, I would rather choose Internet Marketing. Targeting global consumer and the entire world internet user with ability to niche my market indefinitely. Not very-very hard to pass 6-figure(or more) income in less than 18-24 month, with far-far less risk and none of that unnecessary hassle. Zero to minimum capital to start. Even if failed, just revive quickly. Having transferable sales/marketing skills. And almost certainly to become location independent business, avoiding employees.. hence Alpha 2.0 compatible.

    Unlike in the physical world-based location dependent business, you can become a big fish in a small niche too.

    After that, going to Africa for adventure trip for the sake of experiences.

    No debate, though.

  8. describe hard

    Long hours, very hard living and working conditions, working with lots of dishonest and unskilled people, lack of follow-through and rule of law, as the gentleman above described, and so on.

    I would rather choose Internet Marketing. Targeting global consumer and the entire world internet user with ability to niche my market indefinitely. Not very-very hard to pass 6-figure(or more) income in less than 18-24 month, with far-far less risk and none of that unnecessary hassle. Zero to minimum capital to start. Even if failed, just revive quickly. Having transferable sales/marketing skills. And almost certainly to become location independent business, avoiding employees.. hence Alpha 2.0 compatible.

    Absolutely agree 100%; you’re speaking my language!

  9. Absolutely agree 100%; you’re speaking my language!

    Are there similar level business opportunities in Africa (or Asia) that one can do entirely online without having to go there physically? Now that would be much more attractive.

  10. Are there similar level business opportunities in Africa (or Asia) that one can do entirely online without having to go there physically? Now that would be much more attractive.

    Sure, just do some research and figure it out. Much less potential for profit though.

  11. If any guys are interested in seeing what the reality of business in Sub-Saharan Africa is like, this little documentary should open their eyes:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GslPzhFLyas

    As someone who has lived in and traveled in African countries, let me tell you that you should only think about this if you are willing to adapt to a world that doesn’t share the Matrix-like assumptions and hangups that afflict Americans/Westerners.

    Also consider whether you would be willing to accept massive risk, and have a talent for figuring out how to find solutions that would simply overwhelm most people.

    Also consider what kind of mental attitude and lifestyle choices it takes to remain healthy in the face of diseases that antibiotics can’t fix, and that can kill. If you want to test your mettle, do a search on: onchocerciasis (river blindness) schistomiasis (bilharzia, eats out your liver, digestive and urinary tract) dracunculiasus (guinea worms, which travel inside your body to your legs and then eat their way through your skin to pop out around your ankles) or those tropical disease standbys like malaria* and leishmaniasis. Still feeling gung-ho about making your way to Africa? Fantastic. You’ve probably got the right stuff!

    A movie that fairly nails what the African experience can be like is the movie Blood Diamond. Just don’t ever get tempted to get involved in the world of arms sales, bodyguarding, mercenary work, or the like; and stay out of  conflict areas.

     

    * Interesting factoids: during WW2, the Allied armies in Africa had more men killed by malaria than were killed in combat. It also seems like people who survive an acute attack of malaria (the kind where you’re shaking and have cold sweats) gain an immunity to cancer. This is an empirical observation by army doctors, nobody has a scientific explanation for why this happens.

  12. If any guys are interested in seeing what the reality of business in Sub-Saharan Africa is like, this little documentary should open their eyes

    I love Vice. What a great little movie. Exactly what I’m talking about. However, those guys started the worst fucking business idea in Africa I could think of… driving a truck 5000 kilometers through Africa? WTF? Uh, fuck no. Way too much work, too expensive, and too dangerous. The guy and the end had a much better idea; help villages get clean water. Way better.

    A movie that fairly nails what the African experience can be like is the movie Blood Diamond.

    One of my favorite movies. The only movie where Leonardo DiCaprio is actually pretty cool and doesn’t seem like a pussy.

  13. Much less potential for profit though.

    I thought you were all about doing things in as little effort and as little time as possible, which is what I like. I do not think there is anything heroic or in fact even special about getting lots of money (or anything else like women) by putting lots of energy and time into it. On the other hand getting some good results with minimum time and effort that is something. This article to me does not match with the rest of your model in this regard.

  14. I thought you were all about doing things in as little effort and as little time as possible, which is what I like. I do not think there is anything heroic or in fact even special about getting lots of money (or anything else like women) by putting lots of energy and time into it. On the other hand getting some good results with minimum time and effort that is something. This article to me does not match with the rest of your model in this regard.

    Correct. That’s why I repeatedly said this is an adventure for young men only. When I was a young man in my 20’s I didn’t really care if something was “hard.” I actually sort of liked it. Many younger men are like this. Once you hit  about 35, you have no interest in that hard shit anymore.

    But yes, my usual stance on this stands; you should do the minimum amount of work for the maximum return, provided you make at least $75,000 a year or more. This is why I criticized those stupid truck drivers in that video Thoroughfare posted. They’re doing way too much work in Africa. If I were a young man going to Africa, I would instead find a way to make money there while working in a safe, indoor office in a relatively safe area.

  15. Correct. That’s why I repeatedly said this is an adventure for young men only. When I was a young man in my 20’s I didn’t really care if something was “hard.” I actually sort of liked it. Many younger men are like this. Once you hit  about 35, you have no interest in that hard shit anymore.

    I am 31 and I already since quite some time, perhaps since forever, am not interested in hard work. Whats the point? If I want adventure I go on an adventurous holiday or just get my adrenaline from regular interaction with women (being low patience person its often like that).

    But yes, my usual stance on this stands; you should do the minimum amount of work for the maximum return, provided you make at least $75,000 a year or more. This is why I criticized those stupid truck drivers in that video Thoroughfare posted. They’re doing way too much work in Africa. If I were a young man going to Africa, I would instead find a way to make money there while working in a safe, indoor office in a relatively safe area.

    I think for them its an adventure. No one sane would do that otherwise.

  16. As someone who does live in sub Saharan Africa it would in my opinion be very difficult for a westerner to thrive. Its not impossible but its not skill that gets you places but who you have in your pocket. No one cares if you deliver the service, as long as they get paid. Good luck if you a white male… There are Employment Equity hurdles that will make your toes curl. Africans are weary of whites swooping in to make a killing without it benefiting them first because of the history of colonial plunder. You can only do business if you can provide proof of employment opportunities for local residents and you’ll need to liaise with Community Liaison Officers who are a pain to deal with. You’ll be so tied up with paperwork and tenders (that will go missing and get indefinitely postponed just because) As I said not impossible but lots of hard work, slow internet, humid weather, water restrictions. There’s really no rush here so if you patient cool if you not then its not for you but there are plenty of women for all tastes so you would definitely wont go without.

  17. @Marty McFly only seeing this now. I’d say go for it if you’ve done your homework and its not your first business. A few things off the top of my head:

    It will be hard work(See Caleb’s description above in the comments)
    Be mindful of the elections in March next year
    Ask around, see what the competition is doing.

    Hope I helped.

  18. hey blackdragon on the first comment it gave me an idea, do you persoanlly have any advice for someone in their young 20s focusing on building income and finances while having sexual frustration and wanting to fuck alot of girls and pull a genghis khan lol, im a high sex drive guy like you and logically I HAVE to build finances right now i have to build a comfortable income but the sex temptation is very high? any quick short advice for someone like me? u just recommend to get 1-2fb or something? thx!

  19. This is a great post. I grew up in Africa and became a U.S citizen last year. and when i first visited my dad there he told me to focus on business ventures in the EXACT areas you mentioned. so this great. Blackdragon saves the day again. thank you! working on the two tires of my motorcycle of life thanks to posts like this.

  20. 25 Year old Motswana Guy working in Botswana. We are not as developed/uninteresting for business as stated above, theres lots of opportunities for growth and entrepreneurship especially for youth citizens.

    The government has a lot of grants and subsidized loans for the youth, you just need to know who to partner with and enjoy the benefits of these incentives.

    So many sectors for growth; Agriculture, Mining, Telecomms, Digital Media, Tourism, etc.

    Research and read about Botswana, theres a lot to understand. We rank the best in the continent in terms of Discipline, Peace(we could even be the most peaceful country in the world), Democracy, least Corrupt, etc

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