Thanks to digital marketing, every entrepreneur can go global, by Elyse Estrada –

Every entrepreneur’s dream is to have a global customer base. After all, there’s no evidence that you’ve been successful in getting people around the world to buy your digital products or services. Until recently, getting to this point was reserved for a select few who manage to grow after saturated their domestic markets.

Today, thanks to e-commerce and digital marketing in particular, even entrepreneurs in niche fields can build a global customer base. Whether building an online fashion empire or selling handcrafted designer decor, an entrepreneur from Accra or Lagos can compete globally with their counterparts in Paris or New York.

However, to ensure they have the best chance of doing so, it is essential that they market to the most relevant online platforms with the greatest reach of potential consumers.

The growth potential of emerging markets

This growth opportunity is especially true for entrepreneurs targeting emerging markets with rapidly growing online populations. Nigeria, for example, should add 35 million new internet users by 2026, according to Statista. In Ghana, meanwhile, World Bank figures indicate that 58% of the population is online, with the number of internet users having gmore than six percent between 2020 and 2021.

Not only does this opportunity for growth stem from industry dynamics, but it also stems from demographic dynamics. Both of these markets have incredibly young populations. In Ghana the median age is 21 and in Nigeria it is just over 18. As populations in the rest of the world age, it is to these often underserved markets that businesses around the world will look for growth.

This young population is increasingly tech-savvy and connected. They want and expect the same types of consumer experiences as their counterparts in other parts of the world. This means that with the right messages on the right platforms, businesses can reach these consumers and make sales no matter where they are.

But these young people are also looking to develop their digital skills so that they can pursue careers in high-growth sectors that bring economic progress. In Nigeria, for example, the Digital Development Program Trust Fund estimates that 35% to 45% of jobs will require some level of digital skills.

These same young people are also enterprising and have a growing pool of successful entrepreneurs from across the region and continents to draw inspiration from. Outside of tech unicorns like Flutterwave, Jumia, and Wave, there are homegrown entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as fashion, health, and home decor who have proven that with fairer access to the digital marketing ecosystem, it is possible to expand regionally and internationally, ultimately creating businesses that thrive on a larger scale and enrich the rest of the world through their products and services.

Develop the right skills through access to digital media education

For this to happen at scale, they also need the skills required to market themselves online in the markets they want to reach. At the very least, these entrepreneurs should have easy access to people with these skills.

It is important to note here that these are not only fundamental digital marketing skills, but also skills related to the specifics of marketing on the world’s leading digital advertising platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat and Spotify, where people all over the world spend most of their time. online time. With the right types of messages, these platforms are the most effective places to reach new customers in a wide range of markets.

It’s something we’re passionate about at Aleph Group and that’s why we launched our Digital Advertising Expert Program, which aims to educate, certify and connect thousands of Africans with the digital skills needed to succeed in a rapidly digitalizing economy. While it’s entirely possible that someone with the right degree of determination and curiosity could develop these skills on their own, it’s essential that more and more resources be made available to develop them at scale.

This is crucial to ensure that markets such as Ghana and Nigeria are not just growth targets for international companies, but incubators for a new generation of entrepreneurs capable of competing globally for themselves.

Transforming small businesses into global players

Fortunately, there is a strong small business base in the region with untapped potential. With the required skills, these companies will be ready to take the next step and globalize their customer base.

In Nigeria, for example, SMEs contribute 48% of national GDP, represent 96% of companies and 84% of employment. And in Ghana, it is estimated that more than 90% of the country’s businesses are SMEs, employing 60% of the working population and representing 70% of the country’s GDP. If even a small fraction of these SMEs are able to build an international customer base, it will unlock and stimulate economic growth in these growing countries, giving impetus to the next wave of entrepreneurs.

With the digital marketing tools currently available and the growing access to digital marketing skills, this is also quite achievable.

Elyse Estrada, Director of Global Marketing, Aleph Group, Inc

Cathy W. Howerton