African SMEs’ Performance and Behaviors during COVID-19

Rollo - Future of African SMEs

In Africa, the entrepreneurship ecosystem, as well as small and micro businesses have expanded in the last decade. However, support systems for small businesses have historically been inspired and developed outside the continent. Some examples include coworking spaces, incubators, hackathons, and accelerators which tend to best address and ft formal businesses that have a diferent level of maturity, market outlooks and investments needs. For the past years, it has been highlighted that African businesses need a new model that respects the local context, level of maturity, background and local education, growth of business, and response to local risk and crises. This became most clear when COVID-19 hit small African businesses and the ecosystem experienced a shutdown. Rollo is a business simulation program dedicated to inspiring and supporting small African enterprises facing challenges after the COVID-19 outbreak. It is composed of three-fve intensive simulation days in which enterprises learn to manage and operate in a competitive environment within diferent market outlooks. The programme provides a platform for African entrepreneurs to create ideas and test new strategies in a simulated and risk free-environment. Rollo believes that competition encourages creativity and creates more opportunities, as such Rollo enterprises are ranked based on their proftability and market share within the simulated environment. Best performing enterprises advance to Rollo Masters where they showcase their results and achievements in front of leading African business leaders, experts, investors and government representatives. The Program was equally matched by a series of surveys addressing diferent types of challenges that African SMEs are encountering during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose was to highlight the situation of African SMEs during and post COVID-19 as well as the possible Public Policy pathways to save this critical economic lever. This report highlights data collected from participating SMEs in the Rollo Africa Program. Analysis of the data brings new insights and implications for public policy engaged by African governments. It presents the fndings of research into the main recommendations for policy and donor eforts to promote small and medium-sized businesses in Africa. The research follows an outcome analysis methodology. The focus is on fve countries: Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Senegal and Cameroon. We take our research through 14 levers of the challenges faced by African SMEs like Access to Finance which is the number one challenge for SMEs expansion. We also investigate on Power and Electricity, on Internet and Broadband, on Human Resources and Taxes and Duties, on Business Continuity Plans and on COVID-19 measures, on Managerial competencies and on Corruption and Transparency. We fnally investigate also on Negative Perception, on Access to Information and on the Support of Governments to SMEs. Throughout our investigations, it was of prime importance to understand the impact that the COVID-19 created on these areas and how it materialized. We also gave special focus on the SMEs informal sector and on women.

The model is composed of 3 main integrated components:


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