The Big Challenges Faced by Exporters from Asia and Africa

Running an export business is not easy and has its fair share of challenges. For young Asian and African entrepreneurs looking to export to developed countries in Europe and North America, business is not exactly a bed of roses. Several things can go wrong, at least initially. But if you do get the hang of it and understand the true nature of the export business, the potential for profits is limitless. Let’s talk about the major challenges faced by exporters in Asia and Africa.

Not Having Up-to-Date Information of the Target Market

Business is all about taking advantage of the information. However, as an exporter, you may not have access to the latest business information in the West – Europe or the United States. Much of the information collected by you may actually be outdated and be no longer true.

For instance, you may have got into the business of exporting plastic toys to the United States, only to find out that toys made of a certain kind of plastic are banned in that country – which means, all your capital, labor and effort have been wasted. That’s why, you must work very hard to get the latest information on the markets you’re interested in exporting to.

Or, you may lack knowledge of the latest trends in the market you are exporting to. For example, you probably got into the denim business hoping to take advantage of the demand for Jeans in the United States. But suddenly you find out that the trends have changed, nobody is buying denim anymore in the United States, people have moved on to Khakis.

Not having sufficient funds

While there are many businesses that don’t need much capital to get started, there are others that require a fair amount of starting capital. If you’ve made the mistake of getting into a business that requires a great deal of funding without having made provisions for it, then you only have yourself to blame.

Equally, it’s important to note that when you get into the export business, there will be a plenty of related expenses of getting business registration, permits and licenses. There could be unexpected expenses such as a new importation fee in a foreign country, which you may not have been aware of earlier. Also, you may be required to visit the countries you are exporting to quite often, so there will be a hefty air travel bill to reckon with.

Not finding reliable business partners abroad

A reliable business partner, who is honest, efficient and has sufficient knowledge of your business, is often impossible to find in a foreign country. Those you can identify are often very expensive, and have a lot of demands needed to be fulfilled. But you do need business partners when exporting to a foreign country as they are likely to have intimate knowledge of the processes and regulations of that place, and offer excellent advice on business trends in the marketplace for you to take advantage of.

Failing to get approval for your products

There is a huge risk when you’re exporting to a foreign country that your products may not meet the safety standards of that country. Either the agencies involved would ban your product entirely, or ask for urgent modifications in the product if you would still want to export to that country. For instance, some countries expect all electrical gadgets to be of 110v, and your gadgets may be of 220v, and for this reason, your products may get rejected entirely. This is always a big challenge, and so you must be well versed with the laws of the target market you are exporting to.

Not getting the Packaging right

If you are exporting mangoes to Germany from India, it is critical to get the packaging right. Otherwise, the mangoes could be damaged during the journey and your entire shipment will be rendered worthless. This could be devastating for your business and you may never recover from it. So work as hard on the packaging of your products as you do in the manufacturing and marketing.


This article is a part of our series on “Exploring Opportunities.” Our goal is to inform and motivate young entrepreneurs in emerging countries, and we hope this initiative helps, in its own small way. Please send us your suggestions on how we may help to serve you better. Ciao!

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