AAE and China

China is one of the largest trading countries with Africa. According to last year’s statistics, total bilateral trade between China and Africa exceeded $250 billion for 2021, hitting a new high since 2014. Especially exciting is that it is not a one-way trade, and more and more African people now regard China as a land of opportunity. Among them, African enterprises are undoubtedly one of the most important driving forces behind the growing economic and trade ties between China and Africa.

The Africa Association of Entrepreneurs (AAE) is a volunteer-run organization founded in 2004 that is passionate about business development and poverty alleviation. AAE supports the sustainable development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa through advocacy, education, information and networking support.

With the increase in trade on both sides, contributing to effort to support African and Chinese entrepreneurs is worthwhile.

Although trade between Africa and China is bi-directional, there are some realities we have to address. As China’s Commerce Department shows, over 3500 Chinese enterprises have been set up in Africa. On the other hand, there are very few African enterprises getting to access the Chinese market, and the overall relevant data on this is exceedingly rare.

There are very few opportunities for African entrepreneurs to gain access to China. Africans who do enter into the Chinese market usually do so through studying abroad, exchange training projects or some other visit opportunities. As one entrepreneur said, “If I go alone, would they let me visit every corner of the factory?” She explained that she had been to China several times, but never had access to a large Chinese company. Generally speaking, there are few channels to traverse from Africa to the Chinese market for potential ambitious entrepreneurs.

New platforms and virtual spaces where African entrepreneurs and SMEs can display their excellence can bring about further benefits:

1. Campaigns that support and encourage innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship in cooperation with Chinese SMEs.

2. Access to the Chinese market for innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship from Africa.

3. Attract the interest and support of Chinese companies that cooperate and trade with African entrepreneurs.

4. Involve Chinese international volunteers, interns and audiences and encourage them to have an active role in assisting African SMEs in China.


AAE is a volunteer-run organisation coordinated by a network of national teams.

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