Doing Business in Africa

A strategic guide for entrepreneurs
Marjolein Lem, Rob van Tulder and Kim Geleynse
Utrecht: Berenschot, Prc/RSM, NABC, 2013
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Sub-Saharan Africa offers a challenging, often turbulent but promising environment for business expansion. Dutch entrepreneurs have a long history of operating on the continent, but their position is now under pressure. New contenders from countries such as China, Brazil and India are entering African markets with explicit agendas, extensive resources and a determination to stay. Under these changing circumstances, should Dutch firms follow the Chinese example, ally with the Americans, nurture a European angle or develop their own approaches?

This book argues that Dutch entrepreneurs should do the latter. Innovative approaches, addressing both risks and responsibilities in a smart mix of strategies for managing distance, are needed to secure a long-term competitive position in African markets. In this strategic guide for entrepreneurs, the authors explain the challenges and opportunities, identify the characteristics of successful business models and provide examples of leading Dutch firms, both large and small, in the region. In doing so, they continue where others left off, showing how to do business and gain a sustainable competitive advantage in Africa.

The partners

Doing Business in Africa brings together insights from business practice, academia and policy to provide a broad overview of Dutch entrepreneurship in Africa. The book is the result of a collaboration between three partners:

  • Berenschot International, part of management consultancy firm Berenschot, advises organizations on how to engage in emerging markets.
  • The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) is part of RSM Erasmus University Rotterdam, one of Europe’s leading business schools.
  • The Netherlands−African Business Council (NABC) is the leading network organization for Dutch businesses in Africa, with over 300 members.

The book has been sponsored by the African Studies Centre and Rabobank International. We are grateful to Mo Ibrahim, Africa’s most famous entrepreneur and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world, for writing a preface to this book.


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Doing business in Africa


"Excellent book that really does justice to the scale of opportunities and challenges in Africa" (Frank Braeken, Executive Vice President Africa Region, Unilever)

"A very useful guide for reflecting with my management team" (Juan van Dongen, Chief Executive Officer for Africa at Philips)

"A long-awaited book, an important contribution" (Bernard Wientjes, President of the Confederation of Netherlands' Industry and Employers VNO-NCW)

"A very practical and well-written book to read on the plane to Africa" (Matthijs Spiering, Commercial Director, Zeelandia)

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