Lack of funding is the main barrier for entrepreneurs in Africa, but the desire for entrepreneurship training is just as compelling, according to a new survey by U.S.-based market research firm Geopoll.
Timed to coincide with U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, GeoPoll asked 1,000 African entrepreneurs about the state of entrepreneurship in their countries.
Two hundred entrepreneurs in each of five countries — DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa — were asked what resources their countries need to encourage entrepreneurship, biggest challenges facing new businesses and what educational programs they’ve participated in to improve their businesses.
Almost half the respondents — 44 percent — said they’d participated in an educational program or activity in the past year aimed at improving their business. And they said they need more training — especially in areas of financial literacy, computer training, business or entrepreneurship seminars, and trade-specific workshops.
Social media is the most popular online tool for supporting business growth, according to respondents.
The results of the survey will help demonstrate to U.S. companies the strong entrepreneurial spirit in Africa, Roxana Elliott, GeoPoll director of communications, told AFKInsider in an email.
The high percentage (44 percent) of African entrepreneurs who attended a program or training to improve their business in the past year shows this, Elliott said. “There are countless small businesses throughout Africa, and this data shows what they are looking for: not only funding, but also improved facilities, and more high-skilled workers. This information will help guide those looking to invest in Africa.”
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When asked what would most help increase the number of entrepreneurs in their country, 36 percent of respondents to the GeoPoll survey said “more financial resources,” 24 percent said “better facilities or services” and 23 percent said “government support.”
One question asked all respondents to think about youth and female entrepreneurs — the focus of GES opening day, according to GeoPoll.
What would help youth/women entrepreneurs to start businesses the most?
Respondents replied that funding was the resource most needed to help entrepreneurs (41 percent), followed by government support (22 percent), access to market information (18 percent) and access to high-skilled workers (16 percent).
GeoPoll collaborated with Global Entrepreneurship Network (coordinators of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya that Obama is attending) and the U.S. State Department. The 13-question surveys were sent via SMS the week of July 13.
“The survey was conducted by GeoPoll as a type of sponsorship for the GES,” Elliott told AFKInsider. “We worked closely with them to come up with topics and develop the questions. The U.S. State Department was especially involved in the writing of questions.”
The U.S. State Department has been a GeoPoll client on other projects in the past year, Elliott said.
GeoPoll claims to be the world’s largest mobile survey platform with a database of more than 200 million cell phone users — and their phone numbers — in emerging markets. It conducts surveys through mobile text messages.
Among GeoPoll’s clients are Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and governments. GeoPoll provides insight on everything from food security to brand preferences. Its customers have included the U.N. World Food Program, USAID, World Bank, African Development Bank, soft drink and consumer electronics firms, and other market research firms.
In the past two years GeoPoll expanded services in Africa, opening an office in Nairobi, and increasing its presence in South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria. Its Media Measurement Service, kicked off during the FIFA World Cup, is still running in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.
“In the lead-up to the GES in Kenya, all eyes are on entrepreneurs in Africa, but especially in countries such as the DRC,” Elliott told AFKInsider. “It can often be difficult to hear from entrepreneurs themselves…We were able to reach 1,000 entrepreneurs across Africa in just a few days…We are excited that these results will help highlight the needs of entrepreneurs throughout Africa.”
Elliott said she does not know how the survey results will be used at the summit. “We did a specific question on youth and women entrepreneurs which I hope will be brought up at the special Youth and Women Entrepreneurs Day of the GES (scheduled for today, July 24),” she said.
“The voice of the entrepreneur must remain in the foreground,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, in a prepared statement, “Being able to hear directly from the entrepreneurs helps guide our conversations at the summit and beyond.”
You can read the full GeoPoll report here.