Report: Exports from African Businesses Up 50% with Huge Support from Women 

Emma Okonji

ANKA, the ‘all in one’ Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for African businesses, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), has published a white paper, illustrating the global growth of African businesses in the e-commerce space, spearheaded by women.

According to the report, with over 72 per cent of ANKA’s sellers identifying as women, it is quickly becoming the de facto platform for women entrepreneurs and a source of insight into their experiences in leading small and medium-sized businesses in Africa.

Touching on the impact that African commerce is having on global exports, the white paper highlights that 50 per cent of entrepreneurs ship their products through the platform (via ANKA’s landmark partnership with DHL), arguably making ANKA the largest African exporter of goods.

The report, which is an updated extension of ANKA’s 2018 edition, offered a holistic global analysis of the state of African e-commerce; covering the entire entrepreneurial journey from product creation to international delivery.

The report delves into millions of data points from interactions with global consumers to encourage conversations around the stellar growth of African entrepreneurship. 

Global African Commerce is a quantitative resource for the African e-commerce landscape, shedding light on the unique barriers and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs on the continent. One of the most striking research findings is the significant impact on job creation. Entrepreneurs using the platform have experienced substantial growth in their businesses, expanding their teams by a staggering 50 per cent, thus fostering job opportunities and demonstrating the platform’s capacity to drive job growth, the report said.

With a continental median age of 18.8 years, ANKA’s white paper also highlights how the platform is opening up new opportunities in the job market for youth employment. 

Other key highlights from the white paper include: The revelation that by utilising machine learning techniques, merchants were able to increase visits to their site but offering discounts did not correlate to an increase in sales – surprisingly the only behaviour that doubles the chance of selling a product is to regularly update it; 

While the white paper highlights the growth of the African e-commerce sector, it also highlighted the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs, identifying that 59.7 per cent of women entrepreneurs and SME owners across the continent, identified limited access to finance as the primary barrier to hindering their growth ambitions.

The crucial data underscores the urgent need for targeted support and solutions to address the disparity, the report said.

Speaking about the launch of the white paper and the ANKA Growth Club, ANKA’s CEO and co-Founder, Moulaye Tabouré, said: “I am very excited to share this as a starting point for more efficient collaborations and actions. Our commitment to empowering African businesses goes beyond rhetoric, and it’s at the core of our company’s mission. That is why this white paper is not just a report, it’s a game-changer, providing a unique and unparalleled perspective; helping us redefine the e-commerce landscape, empower women and unlock the full potential of African creativity and entrepreneurship.”

Tabouré further said: “The ANKA Growth Club represents a significant step forward in our mission to facilitate access of SMEs to global markets. The US market represents a huge opportunity for African entrepreneurs to reach new customers and continue growing their business. Through the ‘ANKA Growth Club’, we are not just providing support; we are fostering opportunities, knowledge, and connections that will drive economic growth and innovation. Together, we will open doors and pave the way for a new era of African business on the global stage.”

Lead Gender Programme and Policy Coordinator at the African Development Bank Group, Basil Jones, said: “We are delighted to partner with ANKA in this report. The research and findings presented in this collaboration will play a pivotal role in enhancing the positioning of the African fashion ecosystem and providing deeper insights into e-commerce opportunities.”

Managing Director, CrossBoundary Group, Stephen Murray, said: “The United States is the largest apparel market in the world, but also the most competitive.  With so many brands vying for a share of the $350 billion market, it takes more than just excellence in design to be successful. With the ‘ANKA Growth Club’, Africa’s top fashion brands can learn how to better navigate the complexities of the market, forge the right partnerships and access resources specifically to support African exports to the United States.” 

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