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Fighting inflation in emerging markets: Insights from 5 Experts

Fighting inflation in emerging markets

In this article we will review:

As a startup founder in an emerging market like Africa, inflation can significantly challenge your business growth. The constant rise in prices of goods and services can impact your revenue, profitability, and expansion plans. However, there are ways to fight inflation and stay ahead. In this article, we’ll share insights from five experts who have experience navigating inflationary environments and achieving success.

Control your costs. 

Inflation can significantly impact startups and small businesses, especially those with limited resources. As the cost of goods and services increases, it becomes more challenging to maintain profitability and keep up with rising expenses. Therefore, it is crucial to have a strategy to manage costs effectively. One way to do this is to seek ways to reduce expenses without compromising on quality. Consider diversifying your product offerings and exploring new markets to increase revenue streams.

Additionally, implementing sound financial management practices such as budgeting, forecasting, and cash flow management can help your business stay afloat during inflation.

According to Mutsa Chironga, an executive at Nedbank and former Partner at McKinsey & Company, controlling costs is critical to surviving inflation. He advises startups to focus on operational efficiency, negotiate better deals with suppliers, and optimize their supply chains. By doing so, you can minimize your expenses and maintain your margins.

Ultimately, being proactive and disciplined in cost management can position your startup for long-term success despite economic challenges.

Diversify your revenue streams.

Diversifying your revenue streams is a crucial strategy for startups looking to weather the effects of inflation. By expanding into new markets, products, or services, startups can reduce their reliance on a single source of revenue, thereby spreading their risk and creating new growth opportunities. This approach also enables startups to adapt to changing market conditions and customer preferences, allowing them to stay competitive in the long term.

However, diversification requires careful planning and execution to ensure new revenue streams align with your startup’s overall strategy and capabilities. Conduct market research and identify gaps in the market that you can fill with your products or services. You should also assess your internal resources and determine if you have the necessary skills and expertise to pursue new ventures successfully.

Monique Woodward, a venture investor, who has invested in global startup ecosystems in the US and Africa, recommends diversifying your revenue streams to reduce the impact of inflation on your business. She advises startups to explore new markets, products, and services that can complement their existing offerings. This way, you can tap into new revenue sources and mitigate the effects of inflation in your primary market.

By diversifying your revenue streams, you can increase your resilience and flexibility in the face of inflation and other economic challenges.

Increase your prices strategically.

As inflation takes hold, startups may find it challenging to maintain profit margins without passing on some of the costs to their customers. However, increasing prices is not always an easy decision, as it could result in a loss of customers or damage to the startup’s reputation. Therefore, it is essential to approach pricing strategically and communicate any changes clearly to customers.

As a result, you should analyze your costs and pricing structures regularly to identify areas where you need to adjust without affecting quality or customer satisfaction. You should also consider offering different pricing options, such as bundling products or services.  You can also provide loyalty discounts to retain customers and attract new ones.

Martin Ijaha, Co-founder and CEO of Neyber suggests that startups should increase their prices strategically in response to inflation. He advises startups to monitor costs and adjust pricing accordingly without compromising quality or customer experience. Doing so can maintain your profitability while keeping your customers happy.

Ultimately, increasing prices should be done cautiously to preserve the startup’s long-term profitability and reputation.

Focus on customer retention.

Inflationary environments can be challenging for startups as customers become more price-sensitive and may switch to cheaper alternatives. To counter this trend, startups should prioritize customer retention by providing excellent service, personalized experiences, and value-driven products or services. Doing so can build strong relationships with your customers, foster brand loyalty, and reduce customer churn. To achieve this, you should focus on understanding your customers’ needs and preferences, anticipating their expectations, and delivering personalized solutions that address their pain points.

You should also invest in customer service and support, making it easy for customers to get in touch and receive timely assistance.

Opeyemi Awoyemi, a partner at Fast Forward Venture Studio, emphasizes the importance of customer retention in an inflationary environment. He advises startups to prioritize customer satisfaction and loyalty by delivering exceptional value and personalized experiences. Building solid customer relationships can reduce your churn rate and maintain your revenue streams.

Ultimately, by prioritizing customer retention, startups can maintain their revenue streams and position themselves for long-term success in an inflationary environment.

Embrace technology.

Inflationary environments can be particularly challenging for startups in emerging markets where resources may be limited and costs may be higher. However, technology can be a powerful tool for startups to overcome these challenges and achieve growth.

You can automate your operations, reduce costs, and reach new customers by leveraging technology. For example, you can use digital marketing and social media platforms to reach a wider audience, automate your sales processes with e-commerce solutions, and improve your supply chain management with data analytics and logistics software. Technology can also enable your startup to offer new products or services and enter new markets, providing new revenue streams to counter the effects of inflation. But, you must be mindful of the risks associated with technology, such as cybersecurity threats and privacy concerns, and ensure that you implement robust security measures and comply with applicable regulations.

Tayo Oviosu, Founder and Group CEO of Paga, believes that technology can be a game-changer for startups in emerging markets facing inflation. He advises startups to leverage technology to automate operations, reduce costs, and reach new customers. By embracing technology, you can streamline your processes, improve efficiency, and scale your business faster.

By embracing technology, startups can ultimately position themselves for long-term success in an inflationary environment.

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