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Eureka: Advice to Algerian businesses
by Joseph Gatt
2018-06-27 09:57:56
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Words of advice to Algerian businesses, in no particular order.

-You can't sell everything! Algerian businesses really need to specialize. Almost every time I walk into an Algerian business I see a wide range of products, in large quantities, but often at dismal quality. If it's a restaurant they have sandwiches and they have dishes and they have soups and they have deserts and snacks and everything in between. If they're clothes shops they have men's cloths and women's clothes and children's clothes, new fashion and old fashion and everything in between. If it's a private school they teach almost every language in the world plus almost every skill you can think of. If it's a transportation business or logistics business they do small packages and large packages, domestic and international, and often cover the entire planet earth. Now if you can pair that up with quality why not. But a lot of times the quality of the service provided is dismal, a lot of people are paid to do nothing, the costs for producing all the products are high and the demand is low.

alger001_400-Parking space will make or break your business. Most Algerians move around by car, and if there's nowhere to park your car around your business, they will simply avoid your business. If employees have nowhere to park their car, they will tend to resign.

-Online business and e-commerce are great, you just need a delivery system that matches the e-paymment system. If I have to wait for two hours for my pizza to arrive, or a couple of days for the t-shirts I ordered to arrive, I might as well go to the shop and make a direct purchase. Traffic tends to be heavy, and in areas where traffic is not heavy, people tend not to have jobs or the kind of money to make online purchases.

-Honesty with foreign investors and when foreign companies open a local franchise. Doing business in Algeria is not the same as doing business in a lot of countries. A good anchor is to say Algerian business culture ressembles the business culture of Thailand. Business tends to center around the family, family members are consulted even when they don't have the skills or background to give advice, the banking system is slow and uselessly bureaucratic, transportation is complicated and misunderstandings are frequent. Human resources are not always stellar and mismanagement is common.

-No soup for you! Algerians hate being told that they made a mistake or that their story is not accurate. They would rather save face by avoiding doing business with you than go ahead and fix things the way you told them to fix things. That means you Algerian franchisee could actually fix things, learn, and move forward, but he or she would rather take a few steps backwards just to save face.

-The Middle Eastern market is a gigantic market. China with a one-child policy was a gigantic market, but imagine almost the population of China with a six or seven child policy. Primary necessity goods are very much in demand in the Middle East and in Algeria specifically. But don't waste your time selling mountain bikes or camping equipment, only the crazy ones ride bikes to work or go camping.

-If Algerian businesses learn to narrow down their services and expectations, the economy can work great. You don't need to teach every language in the world. Focus on having a decent English, French or Korean language school for that matter. The more you're in the business the better your teachers will be, the more students will come, and hey, the Korean embassy could even give your business subsidies! Or some kind of anglophone organization could help you out with free money. Same goes for any service. If you're a bus driver, you need an itinerary, you can't drive everywhere people tell you to drive. 

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