Mastercard SME Confidence Index: 76% of SMEs in Africa project similar or increased revenue in 2023

September 26, 2023 | Pan-Africa
  • Future growth will be driven by digitizing businesses, better data and analytics, and training and upskilling
  • 80% of SMEs in the South Africa, 78% in Nigeria and 68% in Kenya expect revenues to hold steady or grow compared to 2022
  • 63% of SMEs surveyed in Africa are concerned about the rising cost of doing business, and 42% are unsure about retaining staff


Pan-Africa; September 2023 – From surviving to thriving in the post-COVID world, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are optimistic about 2023 revenue projections. These are the findings of the second edition of the Mastercard Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) SME Confidence Index.

The 2021 inaugural SME Confidence Index delved into the impact of the pandemic on SMEs across sectors, products, and services, and how they are embracing a digital future. As a continuation, the second edition of the survey reveals that while SMEs across the African continent are confident about business growth, digitization remains the biggest opportunity.

As SMEs recover from the pandemic and return to growth phase, the research shows that 76% of SMEs in Africa project similar or increased revenue in the next 12 months. This trend is the strongest in South Africa with 80% of SMEs expecting revenues to either grow or hold steady, followed by 78% in Nigeria and 68% in Kenya.

SMEs in Kenya are the most optimistic in Africa about the year ahead, followed by Nigeria and South Africa

In Africa, 6 out of 10 SMEs are confident about business growth in the next 12 months compared to 2022. Leading the region, 66% of SMEs in Kenya are optimistic about 2023, followed by Nigeria at 63% and South Africa at 55%.

The survey highlights top three areas for support required by SMEs in Africa – training and upskilling staff (91%), digitizing business (88%) and business advisory, education & mentorship support (88%).

According to the World Bank, SMEs account for 60% of jobs in Africa, yet they operate in a cash-based economy, and face a US$330 billion financing gap. Access to training, digital tools, credit and resources are key to their survival.

The SME Confidence Index also indicates other areas of support including access to training and development (92%), better data and insights (90%) and regulatory support (85%).

Access to omnichannel payment services among top drivers of growth

SMEs in Africa have identified accepting omnichannel digital payments, digitizing business operations, and training and upskilling staff – all at 92% – as the main drivers of growth.

“Africa has entered a new era of digital evolution where SMEs are key contributors to economic growth. More Africans have been showing acceptance of digital payments as opposed to cash. The latest SME Confidence Index shows a growing appetite for digital payment acceptance by micro, small and medium enterprises. Mastercard continues to be at the forefront of providing innovative solutions, tools and resources that can help SMEs across the continent reach their potential and achieve financial security. This we find to be of major significance especially towards the development of these small businesses and the growth of digital technologies at large,” said Mark Elliott, Division President, Sub-Saharan Africa at Mastercard.

Seven out of 10 of SMEs in Africa are unanimous about the rising cost of goods and services

As markets navigate an increasingly dynamic economic landscape, SMEs continue to face a multitude of challenges. These include rising cost of goods and services (75%), rising cost of doing business (63%), staff retention (42%) and the lingering fallout of the pandemic (53%).

Mastercard leverages its extensive network, state-of-the-art technology, and global partnerships to help SMEs to adapt to changing commercial environments and new spending patterns. The company works with governments and the private sector to build synergies that advance financial inclusion, and motivates consumers and merchants to support small businesses.

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

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