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Characteristics and Critical Success Factors Prioritization of MSMEs in African Agribusiness: A Case of DR. Congo

Empirical study

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International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration
Volume 1, Issue 6, May 2015, Pages 33-43

Characteristics and Critical Success Factors Prioritization of MSMEs in African Agribusiness: A Case of DR. Congo

DOI: 10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.16.1003
URL: dx.doi.org/10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.16.1003

Mbayo Kabango Christian

School of Management Science and Engineering, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China

Abstract: Due to the pertinent question of development of micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and self food supply over the world and especially in Africa, this paper intends to analyze the key characteristics of the Congolese MSMEs, the identification of the perceived critical success factors and their prioritization for accurate and well-oriented performance action. To respond to the focus issues of this paper, an investigation on 259 enterprises was made in Kinshasa and the critical success factor methodology was used to cease and categorize all perceived factors from entrepreneurs. From this, 45 identified CSFs emerged throughout the operational channel of MSMEs and where categorized into four groups which are externalities, strategy, finance and organization. The Analytical Hierarchy Process is used to prioritize these CSFs per operational channel sections which are supply chain, production and distribution. And findings show that the most critical path is the supply chain while the highest critical axis is the finance area followed respectively by strategy, externalities and organization axes.

Key words: MSME, Critical success factors, Agribusiness, Prioritization

Characteristics and Critical Success Factors Prioritization of MSMEs in African Agribusiness: A Case of DR. Congo

1. Introduction

In this current days, the questions about entrepreneurship, food self –sufficiency and self-support have been in the center of economic, management, political and development talks. Micro, small and medium scale enterprises have an important role in the macroeconomic development of the Congo, they create jobs, offer raw material to the manufacturing and processing enterprises while at the same time the supply direct good to the final consumer and enable the differentiation in product offering. Those enterprises put upon them a sociological aspect too, as they become a way to show the personal ability of people to fight against poverty and also as they correspond mainly to what have been called since long time household business. One of the highest functions in this sector is the food supply which still is still being insufficiently developed in the Congolese economies. Several programs and plan for supporting both MSMEs and agribusiness have been implemented by the Congolese government and several international partners such as the World Food program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and many others. Those multiple programs such as the Purchase for Products (P4P), African Agribusiness, Agro industry development initiative (3ADI) and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) have been implemented by international partners to provide primary production (mechanization and power source) and downstream support services(storage, market and first stage processing).

The Congolese government also adjusted many times its economic actions for the agriculture development by implementing programs such as the National Agricultural Investment program (2012), self-sufficiency Food Program (PRAAL) from 1987 to 1990, the Master Plan for Agricultural and Rural Development from 1991 to 1996, the National Recovery Program of agricultural and Rural sector (PNSAR) between 1997 to 2001, the Triennial Program of supplier support in the agricultural sector between 2000-2003 before finally issuing the Note for Agricultural and rural Development Policy (NPADR) in 2006 and the national Agricultural Investment Program (PNIA) in 2012. Furthermore some structural supports were built by the creation of many institutions and services to support the national plan of MSMEs and agriculture development. These structures (services, offices, agencies and departments) relevant from the ministries of agriculture, plan, economy, industry and small & medium enterprises have purpose to assist technically and financially the entrepreneurship. By looking at the number of programs implemented by all partner to support the agribusiness, it is clearly appearing that there is an unsolved problem about the boosting of this sector. Indeed, several documents of the government, researchers and independent organizations reported the pertinent level of under development of the Congolese as well as the sub-Saharan agribusiness and micro, small and medium entrepreneurship. The WPF, IFAD, ADB and others institutions common reports on 3ADI (Eustruch and Grandelis, 2014), food security and vulnerability in DRC mentioned these constraints can be linked to the nature of the business, as well as to the characteristics or structure of the enterprises. Therefore, this paper will focus on identifying those specific factors for the Kinshasa agribusiness as a spotlight of the DR Congo. Kinshasa accounts almost 66% of total MSMES in the DR. Congo (OPEC, 2013). However, for that to be so, a specification will be made regarding concept and a quick overview on the business characteristics of enterprises and sector.

2. Literature review

Many authors have argued on critical success factors for the entire business range of enterprises and especially for micro, small and medium sized firms. Rockart J.F and Bullen C.V (1981) stated that “Critical success factors are the few key areas of activity in which favorable results are absolutely necessary for a particular manager to reach his goals”. A part from searchers distinctive approaches, critical factor can be specifically dependent on the industry as by noted Rockart. Even if, Grunert (1992) presented some few differences about the success factors for management information system as sustained by Rockart and those related to strategic researches which refer to three school mentioned as design school, planning tool and shared experience, he defined these factors “as a description of the major skills and resources required to be successful in a given market”. Despite, the numerous slopes given to the success factors many authors like J.M Esteves de Sousa (2004), Dirks and Wijn (2002) admitted their usefulness in terms of strategy and information system and presented various dimension of the CSFs which are internal/external, strategic/tactical, perceived/actual and hierarchy/groups. Belassi W. and Tukel O.I (1996) expressed these factors as critical success/failure factors in project. They identified four groups for these factors which are related to project, organization, to project manager and to external environment.

Other way of identifying these factors exist and depend on each researcher or on the targeted enterprises. Being based on enterprises size, distinction can be made between micro, small and medium scaled enterprise and large enterprises. In this angle of view, Chuthamas Chittithaworn et al. (2011) in a research regarding factors affecting business success of SMES in Thailand discovered that SMEs Characteristic, Customer and Markets, the way of doing Business & Cooperation, Resources and Finance, and External Environment have significant positive effect on the Business Success of SMEs in Thailand. Tulus Tambunan (2008) stated that there are many factors related to the development of SMEs and the changes in their structure; and within those factors, it can be pointed out the level of economic development and government promotion programs. CSFs can be as well positive or negative depending on their impact on the business. In Hussein Naqvi S.W ‘s research on entrepreneurial organizations , it is highlighted for the case of Bahawalpur SMEs that the main critical factors of success were customer service, know-how of the business and the past experience of the manager are the main. While identified failure factors were lack of access to financial capital, inappropriate government structure and poor infrastructure as well as corruption (Naqvi, 2011).

In the agribusiness sector defined by Jennifer Chalt (2015) as the business of farming or most commonly means an agriculturally related business that supplies farm inputs. The WPF report on food security (2008) identified for the Congolese agribusiness factors such as lack of financing, trade system, price, lack of land, policy, infrastructure, delivery and transportation means, capacity of storage, market organization, taxation on seed, administrative hassles, training, lack of modernization, lack of resources and isolation of the production centers. These factors are mainly affecting MSMEs which generate 80% of the employment in this sector (Andre L., 2015). The CAP program of the FAO (Burgeon et al., 2014)) affirm a decrease in the agricultural production of the DR Congo due to factors such as lack of access to quality agricultural inputs and tools, inadequate storage facilities and insufficient agro-processing mechanisms deter farmers and herders. As related to decision making critical success factors become a field of application of decision making method as Jalaliyoon N. et al. (2012) have used it to study the accomplishment of critical success factors in an automobile company.

3. Methodology

To do this analysis, field investigation has been made in Kinshasa and has covered 259 micro, small and medium scale enterprises evolving in agribusiness. This investigation targeted enterprises dealing in crop farming, market gardening, breeding, fishery, fish-farming and trading of agriculture products. Principal activity centers have been covered and taken as a priority. A questionnaire was submitted the MSMEs managers to circumscribe some few characteristics of their businesses and to identify their perceived critical success factors. After data collection, the descriptive statistics approach is used for data analysis and presentation on MSMES and critical success factors, while the analytical hierarchy process developed by Saaty T. (1980) was used to prioritize these CSFs. This method consist three steps which are hierarchic structure building, the prioritization procedure and the results calculation. The AHP method was applied in several fields of research such as construction project (Latorre and Riley, 2010), critical success factor in organization (Jalaliyoon et al., 2012) and agriculture production (Vera-Montenegro et al., 2014).

4. Data analysis and interpretation

4.1 MSMEs characteristics in Congolese agribusiness

Following the definition given by Jennifer Chalt, the agribusiness can be understand as the set of business, from the supply chain to the final distribution, related to the agriculture. In this investigation, it has been noticed seven principal activities forming the agribusiness micro, small and medium entrepreneurship class. They are crop farming, market gardening, breeding, fishery, fish farming, processing and trade. As presented by the figure 1, the predominant branch is trade with 39% of respondent while the last branch is fish farming.


Figure 1: Distribution of MSMEs by activity

With regard to the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises, many organization and countries law prefer to stand on criterions such as the number of employment, the turnover, the value of the asset or the investment and finally the mode of management. The Congolese charter categorization of enterprises as also adopted the same trend and settle definition and categorization on these aspects as shown in the below table.

With reference to this table the following figures 2 and 3 shows that the agribusiness sector in Kinshasa is mainly composed with micro and small enterprises, this confirms also the viewpoint shared by the international organization in charge on agriculture and development that many business in this domain are household businesses and more rural farming.

Table 1: Congolese charter Definitional point of MSMEs

Employees Turnover  Investment Management mode
Micro 1-5 1-10000 ≤10.000 Concentrated
Small 6-50 10001-50000 10.001-150000 Concentrated
Medium 51-200 50001-40000 150001-350000 decentralized


Figure 2: Distribution of MSMEs                                     Figure 3: Distribution of MSMEs
by number of employee                                                                   by annual turnover

Several report on African and especially Congolese MSMEs in general stated that the business pedestal of this continent and this country is framed by small and medium business. But one of the systemic and structural issues for the continental economy is that these business organizations are for the majority informal and prefer to develop their activities in the shadow market. As per the results of the investigation only 6.9% of MSMEs was registered officially under the patent regimen which covers micro, small and medium scale business organizations. On the other hand, the analysis revealed that less than 20% (19.3%) of those MSMEs are connected to the financial intermediaries such as banks, micro-financing institutions, saving cooperatives or mutual fund. Yet, only 11.2 % have access to funding from partners. Another finding of the research is that especially for the household farming and breeding, the agriculture is not anymore traditional as all of MSMEs get informed about the use of chemical or organic fertilizer and are adapting the cultivation to modern techniques and commercial thinking. Agribusiness for the 259 enterprises contacted is not anymore made for simple subsistence, but they evolve in commercial thinking and performance evaluation. With regard with the low and rare mechanization as there are almost no tractors or either no animal traction, this agriculture branch of the agribusiness is using 100% labor intensive with rudimentary equipment such as machetes, hoe, spade and rake.

4.2 Identification and prioritization of Critical success factors

  • Identification

The identification of critical success factors was made through an open questionnaire in which each respondent (MSMEs manager or owner) should mention freely his perceived critical factors. To this question, respondent expressed themselves in terms of constraints and difficulties to the performance. Specifications have been asked for them to state those factors regarding each level of their value chain which globally have been split into three; that is to say, supply chain, production and distribution. After identification, they should give a value on the importance of this factors based on a scale of 1 to 10. Focusing on the perceived value also helped to countercheck the realities presented in different report and published papers.

By setting the three sections of the operational channel, the questionnaire started to put into hierarchy the critical success factor with the main goal which is performance. Therefore, as per the Saaty’s approach critical success factors can be considered as alternatives in the hierarchy. The last part added in this paper about the grouping per management coverage axes is only to orient business leaders and decision makers to push forward the idea of global understanding of their business situation.

At the identification step, forty five critical success factors were retained for the entire agribusiness accordingly to the respondents’ overview. The distribution of these CSFs are such as fourteen (14) are counted at the supply chain, sixteen (16) at the production level and fifteen (15) at the distribution level. The below table 2 represents all of them and the codification made for the analysis.

Table 2: Identified CSFs in the agribusiness field

Identified CSFs in the agribusiness field

After the identification is done, the hierarchy of the problem looks like showed in the figure 4. The most important decision here is to determine which critical factor per level of the process has to be regarded in priority and which area of the operational channel is the most critical for these micro, small and medium investigated businesses. Therefore, the objective set is the performance, while the criteria are the operational channel sections which are connected to the alternatives which are perceived critical success factors.

hierarchy of this study

Figure 4: Hierarchy of this study

(ii) Prioritization: AHP computation

This process of prioritization is done globally for the entire sector. The analysis will then not be done for each MSMEs, but it will concern the overall as one. The priority is focusing on what decision point to focus firstly in decision making to help this economic sector to resolve in first position problems affecting the large range of businesses. As per the AHP process, the prioritization is starting here by the criteria level to simply identify the path the decision maker will concentrate on in the operational level. In another word, it refers to the section of the value chain which constitutes a pain point for the micro, small agribusiness in Congo. The process requires to find the reciprocal matrix from which it will be determined the Eigen vector for prioritization, then it will be checked the consistency ratio which can be find by the ratio between the consistency index and the random index.


At this level, the main focus of the prioritization is to make hierarchy between critical factors affecting the value chain perceived through the supply chain, the production channel and the distribution channel of these enterprises.


From the calculation through normalization and the weighting processes on this reciprocal matrix, the Eigen vector other way called priority vector has just get determined. This vector already gives us information about priorities or weighing at the criterion level. That is to say, the supply chain count at 97.22%, production got 6.0636% and distribution is at 6.41%. So, in term of strategy to built performance capacity the entrepreneurs in agribusiness will focus primarily on the supply chain. As per this weighting it can be also checked the consistency of the strategic micro, small and medium entrepreneur. For this purpose, there is the Eigen value which has to be computed:

The computed Consistency Index (CI) gives a positive value equals to 0. But for being useful, comparison must be done with the random consistency index (RI) which is given in a dedicated table construct by T. Saaty. For a number of variable equal to 3 the RI is equal to 0.58. Then, by the formula  it can be computed a CR= 0. In this case, this analysis can be judged perfectly consistent.

Alternative prioritization

The same computation is done for the alternatives which are especially large matrix. The table 3 presents the values of the reciprocal matrix for the supply chain.

Table 3: Pair Wise comparison matrix of supply chain

Pair Wise comparison matrix of supply chain

From this matrix, the following priority vector is calculated: SCsv = (0.03549, 0.04833, 0.03782, 0.05527, 0.06228, 0.03945, 0.02788, 0.03231, 0.12084, 0.06395, 0.02987, 0.03399, 0.04148, 0.05152) and its eigenvalue equals 17.290077 with a consistency index valued at 0.2530829. The calculation of the consistency ratio for this kind of matrix larger than a 10×10 matrix is not corresponding to the classification of the Saaty’s usual random consistency index table. Kardi Teknomo (2014) stated that it is more advisable to focus on a matrix 7×7 as it signifies a more logical and less confusing answers from decision makers. On the other hand, in the previous publication of H.A. Donegan and F.J. Dodd (1991) a sample of Saaty table was given for a sample up to 500 respondents. Within that table a random index of 1.57 (RI=1.57) was proposed for a matrix (14X14). But the conclusion, stated that it was better to rely on a proposed RI for n=10 for the analyses as above n=10 inconsistency trend increase.

Out of this, the calculation led to a result of consistency ratio equivalent to 0.15923 which is higher than 10%. A strict slope to the conclusion will characterize this decision as inconsistent. However, an article of the BMPSG (2013) titled AHP-high Consistency ratio mentioned that the number of criteria can influence the value of the CR while focusing on AHP calculation. This result around 15% should than be considered as a low consistency degree than an inconsistent evaluation.

At this point, the Eigen vectors reveals that the most critical factors refers to most critical factors are S1, S2, S4, S5, S9, S10 and S14 as they are making as a set more than 75% of the total loading. The highest CSF is the S1 with almost 35% of the total 100%. The S1 correspond to lack of product (input) cleanliness which naturally corresponds to the quality of seed, or intermediary consumption.

Concerning the production channel, the table5 here below presented enable the computation of the Production Eigen vector (Pev) which is given here by Pev= (0.39109, 0.03911, 0.08800, 0.06175, 0.08233, 0.05587, 0.02394, 0.050283, 0.02885, 0.02861, 0.06175, 0.02569, 0.03999, 0.02270, 0.02861, 0.005303). The Eigen value (λ max) and the consistency index are calculated respectively equal to 23.069518 and 0.4713012. , CI= 0.47 (rounded at 2 decimal). Looking at the table 3 about the Eigen vector, it can be highlighted that the most critical factor are P1, 2, P4, P5, P9, P12, P13, P14. The consistency ratio is not computed as the Saaty’s random index table did not proposed a level above n=15. (Saaty and Ozdemir, 2003) But, anyway looking at the consistency index value even a RI=2 at 16 which is quiet larger) will not lead to a CR< .10. As for the production level, the main issue is the funding limitation, which highlights the difficulty that MSMEs encounter to access funds that can enable them to boost their activities. Generally, MSMEs are in deed of fund to subsidize their working capital and take care of daily charges.

Table 4: Pair wise comparison matrix for Production channel

Pair wise comparison matrix for Production channel

The results of the prioritization process are presented as in the table 7-28 though the Eigen vectors and the matching CSFs. The interpretation of this table can be done as below.

The Eigen vector is given by Dev= (0.44946, 0.04316, 0.03262, 0.06406, 0.05567, 0.03541, 0.03175, 0.026192, 0.06411, 0.05069, 0.03344, 0.03991, 0.03803, 0.03548, 0.03816) with six (6) major CSF gathering a loading of 74% of the total loadings which makes them most critical factors for the distribution side. They are coded as D1, D2, D4, D5, D9 and D10. The D1 represents the location of the activity which is the location of the activities.

, CI= 0.244613380050543; CR= 0.153844893

 Table 5: Pair wise comparison matrix of distribution channelPair wise comparison matrix of distribution channel

From the above calculation, a primary ranking of critical success factors perceived by the MSMEs can be done as presented in the below table 6.

Table 6: Ranking of Perceived critical success factors of MSMEs in Congolese agribusiness

Ranking of Perceived critical success factors of MSMEs in Congolese agribusiness

Considering a top five classification, from this prioritization result, it is appearing that at the supply chain level, the most critical factors are the lack of product cleanliness, instability of electricity, the product scarcity, handling cost and the lack of suppliers. At the production level, the high ranked factors are finance issues, weather issues, product quality issues, lack of input and the electricity instability. Then, at the distribution channel, the most negative critical factors are related to the activity location, electricity instability, the road condition, competition and the lack of staffs.

However, it has been noticed that the consistency of the judgment is very low when relaxing the “.10” or inconsistent if the analysis is strictly sticking on the rule of 10%. Different propositions to solve such issues are given by Saaty and Ozimer and Teknomo .They can be:

  • To find most inconsistent judgment for which the weight is the largest; to determine the range of values to which that judgment can be changed corresponding the inconsistency would be improved and then ask to the judges to reconsider whether they can change the judgment.
  • To stick on the n=7 rule regarding the matrix size, and then to group some judgment which are looking alike.

As per the first proposal of this paper, the need was to give from what was collected from the entrepreneurs a ranking of their perceived critical factor. Therefore a simple grouping from the result can give a general orientation of which axes are more covering their negative factors.

Four grouping possibility are here proposed and they refer to organization, strategy, finance and externalities. Organization may focus on the work structure, the human resource management and the time management. While strategy can cover the marketing aspect thru the 4Ps, the competitiveness and any other approach which can lead to a gain or protection of market share. On the other side, the finance aspect is taken as based on the funding and finance capability; also it covers factors which can simply be minimized by fund availability. The externalities are referring to outer issues not directly controlled by the manager, not covered by the strategic orientation or by the finance axes, but which can affect directly the business.

The table 8 given here below proposes an association of these negative factors under the above cited category. When comparison is made with the results of the prioritization it is appearing that the externalities’ group is having more factors than the remaining others.

Table 7: Grouping of agribusiness Critical Success Factors

Grouping of agribusiness Critical Success Factors

To prioritize at this level, the geometric mean will be use to group pervious weight into new categories. The following group geometric mean vector (Gmv) is found Gmv= (0.039919704, 0.047836164, 0.047808433, 0.057499897) . The value of the sum of weights of the previous Eigen vectors in these grouping categories does not equal 1; then, no priority can be globally stated from this vector. Therefore, a need of prioritization is required and as to be done thru the computation of a reciprocal matrix.

Table 8: Pair wise comparison matrix

Organization Strategy Finance Externalities
Organization 1 0.047836164 0.047808433 0.057499897
Strategy 20.90468621 1 0.999420293 1.202017301
Finance 20.91681184 1.000580044 1 1.202714523
Externalities 17.39133555 0.831934781 0.831452502 1
60.21283361 2.880350989 2.878681228


From this matrix the following group Eigen vector (Gev) = (0.01661, 0.34718, 0.34738, 0.28883) and a global priority can be made at this step. From the geometric vector and the group priority vector, a noticeable change in position is discovered. Externality which was having the highest value of the group geometric mean holds actually the third position in ranking while finance passes to the first position of the hierarchy.

Table 9: Priority vector and rank

Alternative Priority vector Rank
organization 0.01661 4
Strategy 0.34718 2
Finance 0.34738 1
Externalities 0.28883 3


 5. Conclusion

At a first glance, this paper focus on a descriptive presentation of the micro, small and medium enterprises characteristics in the Sub-Saharan agribusiness with a case study on Congo (D.R) was made in Kinshasa as this town count around 66% of the country small businesses. From the descriptive approach, it can be noticed that MSMEs area is dominated by micro and small businesses mostly unipersonal, informal, not well structured and not connected to the financial system even if they evolve in a sector where modernization is implemented gradually.

However, above these characteristics the study identified perceived critical success factors and focused on the prioritization of these factors thru the value channel. This identification enables to capture and control the veracity of different CSFs presented in previous literatures. The needful thinking was to give a rational path to decision makers to identify correctly were they should orient their action first. Due to the necessity of the method and the critical dimension of the problem, an alternative prioritization is proposed to understand the key main orientations or axes disturbing the business. Therefore, the CSFs are regrouped into new alternative which are organization, strategy, finance and externalities.

Once more, it has been proven through this entire text that prioritization is necessary process for the decision maker as it is giving a well-framed view of the problem and also it can still be applied in any field of research as well as in agribusiness.


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