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A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of a project in Mozambique that Cowater International was involved in.

COURTESY OF COWATER INTERNATIONAL

Here are tips to help Canadian companies navigate the continent:

● Work with a knowledgeable, trustworthy local partner, rather than opening your own sales office in an unfamiliar country. The Canadian embassy accredited to the target country can provide introductions.

● Expect the awarding of a contract to take much longer than it would in North America. Commit to the target market for the long haul rather than for a quick one-off deal. Establish personal relationships with potential customers.

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● Try to get paid up front, before shipping product. If providing services, negotiate a contract that leaves you cash-flow positive as you progress from one project milestone to the next. Negotiate an equally tight contract with your local partners.

● Buy insurance from Export Development Canada to protect against default by the vendor or political instability. If you have staff on the ground for an extended period, develop an evacuation plan in case of armed conflict.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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