Koios Associates is dedicated to helping clients develop and implement profitable direct investment, market entry and expansion, sourcing, and financial strategies in emerging markets, especially in Africa and Asia.
Koios Associates applies advanced expertise to the strategic, operational and organizational challenges companies face in marketing, manufacturing, sourcing and distribution in Africa and Asia. We help companies of all sizes and in all industries figure out where to design, manufacture, market and distribute their products and services, and how to integrate their international operations. Though we have the detailed country knowledge to make intuitive judgments, we rely on hard data and sophisticated analysis to help our clients make sense of these markets.
Our experience comes from working with both private companies and governments throughout Africa and Asia. Our work with governments gives us insight into policies that promote growth and bureaucratic constraints that constrain it, and helps us devise and implement strategies to help countries take advantage of opportunities and incentives and to overcome administrative hurdles.
Our experience in over 60 countries gives us an understanding of what has and hasn’t worked in different environments, while our local knowledge and contacts enable us to adapt those lessons to the specific context. We work closely with experts in each country to combine international perspective with deep knowledge of the local business and government environment.
Emerging markets are growing faster than mature ones. If the U.S. economy grows at 3%, that is an outstanding year. European economies are lucky to register 1% annual growth. Japan has been stuck in the doldrums for almost 15 years. But 6 of the world’s 12 fastest-growing economies are in Africa and the rest are in Asia. China just misses the list, coming in at number 13.
The wealthy countries face aging populations and slow or even negative population growth: Europe’s population is growing at an anemic 0.2% a year, and Japan’s is shrinking at the same pace. U.S. population growth is a little healthier, at 0.7%, though that could decline if the government further restricts immigration. With 0.5% annual population growth, China, now the world’s second largest economy, may be the first country to grow old before it gets rich.
Meanwhile, the U.N. estimates that Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. 400 million of those people will live in Nigeria. Ethiopia, the world’s fastest-growing economy, has 0ver 100 million people today and is expected to have a population of more than 200 million by 2050.
Competition is more open in emerging markets. There are fewer entrenched local companies that can block new entrants into the market. Import tariffs and non-tariff barriers are being eroded, and reforms to investment codes make it easier than ever for foreign companies to export and invest profitably.
Returns on investment are higher in emerging and frontier markets. Private equity investments in sub-Saharan Africa return an average 28% annually. Investments in Latin America return about 19% and those in Asia generate annual returns of 14%. By contrast, direct investments in developed countries return about 7% per year on average.
Skills are improving in emerging markets. Investing in emerging markets is no longer just about companies looking for cheap labor offshore but instead about expanding and integrating global value chains. According to some estimates, as much as 50% of U.S. and European trade in manufactured products consists of “inter-company” exchanges, between domestic and offshore branches of the same company. Many business processes, many of them involving sophisticated functions and highly-trained workers, are now performed offshore. Cost advantages are only a part of the story.
As trade barriers fall, investing overseas is also less about overcoming high tariffs or non-tariff barriers by manufacturing in an overseas market. Barriers to investment have fallen too. Today’s global company is faced with an increasing range of choices on how best to serve its markets at home and abroad, through increasingly complex systems of exporting, direct investment, outsourcing and subcontracting, in which considerations of market size and growth, market access, production costs and delivery times all come into play. Today’s global company can no longer focus solely on Europe, North America and Japan and expect to thrive. And for all their importance, there is more to emerging markets than just China and India, both as attractive markets and as competitive production locations.
Koios has the advanced analytical techniques, combined with decades of direct business experience in emerging markets, to help clients make and implement strategic decisions that are right for them. In international business, there is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all.” Koios provides tailor-made solutions.
Emerging markets are different. As hard as it can be to succeed in business in a home environment in which laws, rules, and procedures are transparent and relatively easy to understand, it can be much harder in unfamiliar environments that have different cultural assumptions and very different ways of doing business. Although each country or region is different, emerging and developing countries have many things in common that lend themselves to a common approach. These often include:
These problems can appear daunting, but the rewards can be great for companies that can devise strategies to cope with them. Koios has proven techniques and vast experience gathering and analyzing essential information in these markets and designing and implementing practical solutions to the challenges that potential investors face.
Unlike many large consulting firms, which delegate most of the work to junior staff, Koios’ staff and affiliate network consists only of senior consultants, each of whom has a minimum of 10 years of experience in his or her relevant areas of expertise. When you hire Koios you get experienced professionals.
Koios operates as a network of consultants, all of whom are successful in their own right and who work independently for a wide range of clients. Koios assembles teams that bring together the skills and experience a client needs without maintaining a large full-time staff that raises overhead costs without increasing the value to our clients. Koios also partners with other firms that complement our own regional sectoral and functional expertise.
Koios teams typically consist of experts who know one another and have worked together on other assignments. Even when not working on client assignments, we share ideas and information, so that when we do engage with a client we add value from the start. We avoid steep learning curves that our clients end up paying for.
Our fees are competitive and pay for the best expertise available, rather than covering unproductive overhead expenses.
We are not lawyers or doctors or CPAs, though our network includes legal and accounting and even medical experts. So we rarely charge by the hour. We offer solutions and we prefer to calculate our fees based on our best estimate of what it will cost us to develop and assist in implementing a solution, and of the value we provide to our clients. At the same time, we don’t ask our clients to bite off more than they can chew. Most of what we do can be broken down into modules, which allows clients to review results and recommendations before deciding to move on to the next phase.