Ambassador (Dr.) Robin Renee Sanders’ new book on The Rise of Africa’s Small & Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) is an insightful examination of the dramatic shift in the development paradigm for Sub Saharan Africa — driven in large part by the imaginative, innovative, and insta-impact leadership of the region’s small businesses or SMEs. “SMEs have helped drive economic development, growth and aided in increasing the size of the Continent’s middle class,” Sanders says.
With the Introduction to the book by renown civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, and the Foreword by Sub Saharan Africa’s leading businessman, Mr. Aliko Dangote, Sanders’ book credits the determination of Africa SMEs and entrepreneurs (which includes African nationals, immigrants and African Americans) for stepping into the void left by 40-years of post-independence development approaches that had little impact on reducing overall poverty and creating jobs in the region. “Africa’s dynamic entrepreneurial spirit of Generation-Xers and Millennials’ are and have formed SMEs and social enterprises that today are responsible for conceiving and inventing many of the new apps, and answers to address the region’s age-old poverty issues,” Sanders emphasizes. “Africa SMEs are not only a key driver for jobs, but serve as an additional catalyst to grow the middle class.” Sanders argues that it was the Rise of the Africa SME – converging with technology and its mobility – that has changed, over the last decade, the focus and direction of development in Sub Saharan Africa.
The book has a few vignettes from Sanders’ diplomatic life and work as CEO of the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative with Africa SMEs over the years, as well as regional examples of some of innovative things Africa entrepreneurs are doing in sectors ranging from agriculture and food security to energy and climate change. The book also walks readers through what donors, foundations and African stock markets are doing today to help in the SME space. Sanders ends with recommendations of what more can be done by donors, African governments, and the new U.S. administration to further assist Africa SMEs, particularly the group she calls the “critical mass,” and those at the “fragile” end of Africa’s middle class.