Africa Business Communities
The African Business Roundtable's strategy for the future (Pt II) – SME Empowerment

The African Business Roundtable's strategy for the future (Pt II) – SME Empowerment

 Lisez cet article ici en Français

As the voice of the private sector and a prominent advocate of a developed African economy, the ABR has peered into the future and discovered a division of the private sector that is resilient about the mission of building the African economy. This division may seem small, but we will find it powerful enough to surmount the mountainous challenges surrounding the development of the African economy. This sector is known as SMEs.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises are unlikely to be listed on the stock exchange and may be owned by a minute number of shareholders, yet they have proven to be the modern force that drives economic development across the continents of the world, and Africa is no exception.

Across the countries of Africa, the SMEs are contributing so much to the growth of the economy through job creation, employment, tax provision, entrepreneurship nurturing, equitable distribution of income, etc. They impact the gross domestic product (GDP) positively through their contributions. 

Oumar Seydi, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa: “SMEs account for 90% of all business in sub-Saharan Africa and are a key driver of growth and employment on the continent of Africa.” 

The ABR has however observed that this new economic development engine, the SMEs, have several challenges which are proving a blockade to the progress of the sector. These obstacles include financial constraint, poor management skills and competence, poor electricity supply, inadequate supply of information, lack of business skills, high tax and tariffs, poor support from the government (especially with regards to provision of infrastructure and creating an enabling environment for for trade and investments to thrive in), high foreign exchange rate, among others. 

When the private sector was a sheep without a shepherd, the ABR took to the stage to provide the leadership required to build the African economy and lift the continent from the dungeon of underdevelopment to the galleria of the developed world. It has been on course in this mission and over the years has achieved so much for the continent. As part of the plans for the future, the ABR has chosen to incorporate and empower the SMEs on this mission of a greater Africa. 

The following strategies have been put in place to stimulate this sector: 

Access to finance

The ABR will assist the SMEs with project preparation to enhance their chances and make them bankable, thereby granting them access to finance from banks and other investors, local and foreign. 

Build competitiveness

As part of the plans for the future, we are putting structures down which will see us build the competitiveness of SMEs. This will further make them market-ready, enhance their growth, development and sustenance. 


The challenges of the SMEs, as mentioned earlier, include lack of business skills, poor management skills and competence, etc. The ABR will equip the SMEs with series of trainings on ‘export readiness’ and access to ‘foreign markets’. This will enhance their participation in the lucrative, but very technical international and global value chain trade. With the motion of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, indigenous African entrepreneurs need to be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities that com with this initiative. Other training programs will be centered on ICT skills acquisition to prepare the African SMEs to embrace and adopt the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

Information and network provision

The SMEs need as much information and networks as possible to enable them to remain relevant in business. The ABR will provide necessary information pertinent to Africa’s SMEs, including links to supply chains of established multinational corporations.

The ABR is ready to maintain the required leadership in sharpening the private sector and its SMEs in an inclusive growth towards the development of the African economy. The vision to see Africa rise from the era of the undeveloped to the hallway of development is being realized and we will not slow down in playing our role in this journey.

About the African Business Roundtable 

The African Development Bank Group set up the African Business Roundtable in 1990. Today the ABR is Africa’s foremost and continent-wide association of businesses and business leaders, and is the representative of the African Business Society to the United Nations. An independent, non-partisan, non-profit private sector funded organization, The African Business Roundtable is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is the only organization representing the African Private Sector within ECOSOC.


Also Read:

African Business Roundtable's strategy for the future (Pt I) – Youth inclusion and empowerment

The African Business Roundtable Project Preparation Masterclass Free Webinar, July 27

The African Business Roundtable promotes African trade at SABC Annual Africa Day

The African Business Roundtable stays firm as Africa's private sector conduit to the world 

African Business Roundtable appoints Africa Influencer Agency as PR partner 


Share this article