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Doing Business in Africa (DBA)

The Doing Business in Africa (DBA) project examines private sector engagement in sub-Saharan African markets that simultaneously has the potential to advance African development. The research interest lies in both the disclosure of market access barriers and the investigation of success factors for market entry and individual operational activities. The overall objective is to identify new profitable business models that have positive ecological and/ or social impact. 

The research project illuminates go-to-market approaches along the entire value chain (including production, logistics, marketing, sales) and looks at individual elements of a business market (e.g., revenue models, partner selection and cooperation). One focus is on the specifics of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their approach to African business.

Thematic background of the project

Wars, corruption and disease – these three issues still dominate the public image of Africa. Yet they only show one side of Africa. The continent holds great opportunities and future markets with a growing middle class, increasing urbanisation, high economic growth in numerous countries, a promising level of regional economic integration and, most recently, the continental free trade area. However, German trade with Africa has stagnated in recent years. For ten years German exports to Africa have contributed a maximum of 2 percent to Germany’s global exports, with a recent downward trend of 1.7 percent in 2020. The number of direct investments is also rather low, with currently about 850 companies in Africa’s 54 countries, and shows limited dynamism.

Project goals and setup

The Doing Business in Africa research project aims to make the opportunities in African markets transparent and to identify ways in which companies can make use of these opportunities. The project is intended to help promote the commitment of German and European companies in Africa. The focus is on the activities of SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa. Typical questions of the research project concern: 

  • What must a promising go-to-market approach look like so that SMEs in particular can do profitable business in the markets of sub-Saharan Africa under the given business conditions? 
  • What are the internal and external specifics when SMEs want to become active in sub-Saharan Africa?
  • What do appropriate business models look like?
  • What are the operational success factors for sub-Saharan Africa business that take into account the special features (e.g., size) of SMEs?
Project structure and division of work

The project is part of the Cluster for Economic Research on Africa, which is carried out in cooperation with the Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in Kiel. It is funded by the German Bundestag and facilitated by both the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Ministry of Finance. The cluster identifies and analyses important and current economic and economic policy issues relating to Africa. The thematic focus is on trade and investment policy as well as questions of macroeconomic development, stability and public finances. In addition, there is a significant focus on Africa as a market for the future, with special emphasis on enterprises and entrepreneurial potential in African markets.

The research is intended, among other things, to strengthen evidence-based policy advice on German and European Africa policy and to involve African partners. While the IfW is primarily concerned with economic issues, the research project at ESB Business School focuses on the viewpoints and role of the private sector from a business perspective.

Project Manager

Philipp von Carlowitz

Prof. Dr. Philipp von CarlowitzStrategic Management, International Management

Office Hours: By appointment

ESB profile page

Building 5
Room 210
Phone +49 7121 271 3017
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Role and Responsibilities
  • Programme Leader of BSc International Management Double Degree (IMX) German-Spanish Link
Degree Programmes
  • BSc International Management Double Degree (IMDD)
  • Master International Management (MIM)
  • International Business (IB)
  • MSc International Accounting & Taxation (IACT)
  • MSc International Business Development (IBD)
Focus of Lectures
  • International Management
  • International Business
  • Strategic Management
  • International economic relations
  • Africa and emerging markets
Research Topics
  • Special considerations of SMEs in African business
  • Distribution partnerships in Africa and other emerging markets
  • Strategy and business model innovations
  • Internationalisation strategies of companies
Current Research Projects
  • Success factors of German SMEs when entering markets in sub-Saharan Africa; part of the ‘Cluster Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Afrikaforschung (Economic Research Cluster on Africa)’ together with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
  • Sales partnerships between German and African companies
  • Business models for African markets (third party funding from the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg and the Afrika Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft e. V. (African Association of German Businesses)) (completed)
  • Study of macroeconomics and political science in Germany, USA, South Africa
  • Doctorate in economics at University of Trier
  • BASF S.E.: Corporate Strategy (volkswirtschaftliche Analysen, Industrieanalysen, strategische Projekte) (economic analyses, industrial analyses, strategic projects)
  • Siemens AG: Corporate Strategy (market models, M&A screening, strategic projects)
  • Siemens AG: Strategy Leader Low Voltage Distribution Business Unit
  • ESB Business School: Professor of Managerial Economics & International Management


Carlowitz, Philipp von (2021). Unternehmertum und Start-Ups in Afrika: Deren Rolle im Afrikageschäft deutscher Unternehmen, in: Schmidt, T.; Pfaffenberger, K.; Liebing, S.; (Hrsg.). Praxishandbuch Wirtschaft in Afrika (2. Aufl.). Springer Verlag, Heidelberg (forthcoming)

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2020). Success in the Bottom of the Pyramid Market in Africa. The Case of Multinational Pharmaceutical Companies. Springer Briefs in Business. Springer Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2020). Digitalisierung in den Zukunftsmärkten Subsahara Afrikas - Chancen und Geschäftsmodelle für österreichische Unternehmen. Bundesministerium Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort Österreich, Wien.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2019). Fachreport: Potentiale in Subsahara Afrika Nutzen – Chancen für die Österreichische Wirtschaft. Wirtschaftskammer Österreich/Aussenwirtschaft Austria, Wien.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2109). Fachreport: Markteintrittsstrategien und Geschäftsmodelle für Subsahara Afrika. Wirtschaftskammer Österreich/Aussenwirtschaft Austria, Wien

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2018). Chancen in Subsahara Afrika nutzen. Studie herausgegeben vom Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Wohnungsbau Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart.

Carlowitz, Philipp von; Zedler, H. (2020). Accessing the Bottom of the Pyramid Market Segment in Africa - The Case of Multinational Pharmaceutical Companies. Springer International Publishing, Heidelberg.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2017). Doing Business in Subsahara Afrika, in: Bleuel, H.-H. Internationales Management - Grundlagen, Umfeld und Entscheidungen. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2017). Unternehmertum in Afrika, in: Liebig, S.; Schmidt, T. (Hrsg.). Wirtschaft in Afrika: Wie Projekte erfolgreich werden. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg.

Carlowitz, Philipp von; Röndigs, Alexander (2016): Distribution in Westafrika. SpringerGabler Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2015). Das nächste große Ding, in: Afrika Wirtschaft, 5, 2015, 24-25.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2015). Mehr Wachstum durch Einbindung, in: Afrika Wirtschaft, 3, 2015, 24-25.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2003): Regionalismus in der Weltwirtschaft. (Volkswirtschaftliche Forschungsergebnisse, Bd. 85). Verlag Dr. Kovac, Hamburg.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2003): Freihandel und dessen Wirkungen für Entwicklungsländer: Welche Rolle spielt die WTO?, in: Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, W. v. (ed.), 2003. Globalisierungsdebatte II: Positionen und Gegenpositionen. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, St. Augustin, pp. 62-76.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2001d): Transformation in East Europe and Implications for the Enlargement Strategy, in: Stierle, M.; Birringer, T. (Hrsg.), 2001. Economics of Transformation. Theory; Experiences and EU Enlargement. VWF, Berlin, 309-332.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2001c): Ursachen des schwachen Euro, in: Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium (WiSt), 8, 2001, pp. 379-381.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (2001b): Enlarging the EU: How can the Costs be Minimsed?, in: Intereconomics (Review of European Economic Policy), 36, 2, 2001, pp 77-86.

Carlowitz, Philipp von; Goydke, Tim (2001a): APEC and its Open Regionalism: Success or Failure?, in: Aussenwirtschaft (Swiss Review of International Economic Relations), 56, 1, 2001, pp. 1-29.

Carlowitz, Philipp von (1999): Regionalism and its Consequences for the World Economy, in: Stierle, M. (ed.), 1999. Globalisation: Effects on Enterprises, Employment and Government. VWF, Berlin, pp. 17-37.



Digitalisierung in Zukunftsmärkten Subsahara Afrikas & Politische Handlungsempfehlungen aus drei Studien, Vortrag imBundeskanzleramt, Afrika Task Force, Wien, 22.10.2020.

Marktchancen der Digitalisierung in Zukunftsmärkten Subsahara Afrikas, Impulsvortrag beim Virtueller Firmen-CEO Round Table, Bundesministerium Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort Österreich, Wien 29.6.2020


Key Markets and Market Entry Strategies in Subsaharan Africa, Presentation at the Africa Day, Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, Wien 6.11.2019

Business Models for Africa, Presentation at the Kenyan-German Expert Meeting, Nairobi 29.10.2019

Potentiale in Subsahara Afrika Nutzen, Vortrag im Bundeskanzleramt Österreich, Afrika Task-Force, Wien 24.9.2020

Trends and Innovation for Business in Subsahara-Afrika, im Rahmen des Exporttags 2019 der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, African Innovation Challenge, Wien 25.6.2019

Marktchancen und -risiken in Subsahara Afrika, Impulsvortrag Außenwirtschaftsbeirat der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, Wien 25.6.2019

Geschäftsmodelle der österreichischen Wirtschaft in den priorisierten Ländern Subsahara Afrikas, Vortrag im Bundeskanzleramt Österreich, Wien 16.6.2019

Chancen in Subsahara Afrika nutzen, Vortrag bei der Beiratssitzung von Baden-Württemberg International, Stuttgart 15.3.2019

Bedeutung von Trends für die Geschäftsbedingungen in Subsahara-Afrika, Vortrag beim Botschafter Dialog Ostafrika der IHK Hannover, 15.1.2019


Geschäftlichen Chancen und Möglichkeiten in Subsahara-Afrika für die baden-württembergische Wirtschaft, Vortrag auf dem Wirtschaftsgipfel Afrika 2018, 20.9.2018 Stuttgart

Chancen in Subsahara Afrika nutzen, Vortrag Workshop beim Ministeriuem für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Wohnungsbau des Landes Baden-Württemberg, 19.6.2018


Seizing Business Opportunities in Africa, Gastvorlesung Universität Tübingen, 15.11.2017


Business Opportunities in Africa, Gastvorlesung Universität Tübingen, 14.12.2016

Doing Business in Afrika, IREM Symposium, Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, 3.6.2016

Renewables in Africa and Business Challenges, Krug & Schramm (K&S) Renewables Day 2016, Garching 22.9.2016


Doing Business in Africa, African Business Forum, Tübingen, 24.7.2015

Opportunities and Challenges in Africa: Doing Business, Gastvorlesung Universität
Tübingen, 26.10.2015

Podiumsdiskussion zu Logistics in Africa, 3rd German-African Infrastructure Forum 3.-4.11.2015, Afrika Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft, München

Podiumsdiskussion zu Entwicklungszusammenarbeit in Afrika – Zwischen Aufbruch und Migration, Hanns-Seidel Stiftung, 5.11.2015

Herausforderungen der Globalisierung - Standortfaktoren im Wandel, 30. Metzinger Unternehmergespräche, 10.11.2015, Metzingen


How Competitive Intelligence can Improve your Strategy - The Role of CI in Strategy Development, Conference Keynote at 4th International CI Conference, Bad Nauheim (Germany) 27.3.-30.3.2012.


Simon Züfle

Dr. Simon ZüfleRRI

ESB profile page
LinkedIn profile

Building 5
Room 011
Phone +49 7121 271-1432
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Research Topics

Reasearch project on Go-to-Market approaches of small and medium-sized enterprises (KMU) in Emerging Markets, esp. Sub-Saharan Africa

Project Partners