The answer’s not simple when we’re not talking about a dance television show. At the moment, emerging African markets are frequently being touted as the solution to the current financial crisis. If companies can just ‘crack’ Africa, then they can turn themselves around and sail on with a profit-making wake behind them.
But it’s just possible that Africa doesn’t crack that easily, and that this time around countries won’t be so quick to play the aid-for-trade game. Those companies looking for a quick fix through exploitative behaviour are not those companies that will prosper through expansion into Africa.
What will count is investment in people, and a commitment to doing things properly. And many African countries are ensuring that investment and commitment through legislation.
African leadership models
Currently there are predominantly two models of top company leadership in Africa. The first type of leader is a thoroughly African entrepreneur, who has built up a business on the continent through hard work, shrewd negotiation and exploiting an extensive network. These players, among which we can number such entities as Oando, the largest Nigerian-owned oil company, rely heavily on the talent of a single individual.
The second model is the expat model. Companies wanting to ‘expand into Africa’ establish a base in one or more African countries and bring in an expatriate who has company or industry experience, but no local knowledge or context.
The problem with both these models is that they are short-term and do not cater for succession planning. In the case of the entrepreneurial leader, it is very rare that those same leaders who are so skilled at creating an effective business also have a talent for developing and nurturing a skilled management team, from which a successor may be chosen.
In the case of the expat, it may actually work against their own interests to create a succession plan – should an expatriate successfully transfer leadership skills to a local person, they have then worked themselves out of a job – and re-integration once you have been on the expat circuit is another whole can of worms, to be explored in a different column.
Furthermore, increasingly, and rightly, countries in Africa are limiting expat workers, either through insisting on a certain number of locals being employed or through only offering time-limited work permits for expatriates.
Manage and plan talent for success
In my day-to-day work at Mindcor, I am repeatedly reminded that those companies which are successful in business are those companies which are successful in managing and planning their talent. And by talent here I mean not just CEOs and top leadership, but also middle management and highly skilled artisans such as welders and machine fitters.
The first step to success is the recognition that each individual country in Africa needs a bespoke approach – there is no one shoe that fits all local challenges.
For instance, you are a global financial services company and you want to establish offices in Africa. You begin with Tanzania, where you realise you need actuaries. The thing is, in Tanzania there is no actuarial programme – the university doesn’t teach it.
No problem – you’ll headhunt someone from another financial company already in the country. This solves two problems: you get someone with the requisite intellectual capital, and also someone with local knowledge.
Quite apart from the fact that in the long run you are robbing Peter to pay Paul, as sooner or later your competitors will simply poach your top talent back, what you haven’t done is thought about any long-term sustainability for your venture.
Sure, if you just want to get in quickly and see yourselves as leaving again in five years, this is a viable option. But I doubt that any company thinks that way.
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Need-To-Know Legal Changes for Business Owners. Find Out More Here.
Real investment for real rewards
If you want to make a sustainable investment in Africa that will reward you with handsome profits, you have to factor in the cost of talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention.
You must create the capacity, either internally or through employing a skilled external agency, to not only put the necessary bums in the necessary seats in the present moment, but also to assess, project, strategise and effect a programme that will create those necessary bums in seats in the longer term.
If the company knows that it needs actuaries, and it equally knows that the country in which it is operating doesn’t have actuarial training capacity, it makes perfect sense to negotiate with governments and universities to create such a programme – and sponsoring its existence can only increase its employee brand, ensuring that it will benefit from being able to recruit the top talent.
These are lengthy and complicated negotiations, for long-term rewards, but it’s certainly worth factoring their necessity into your human resources strategy.
Another factor to consider is local knowledge. Again, the necessary skilled people in the short term may be easy enough to come by, albeit more expensive once you have factored in relocation costs and expat allowances, but will they be able to do the job? Not in terms of their skills set, but in terms of their local knowledge and cultural flexibility.
Local knowledge goes a long way
Does an international company’s HR department have, or even want to have, the necessary local knowledge of which individuals from which ethnic background in Nigeria can or can’t work together?
Do they want to have to keep abreast of border disputes between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, so as to know when the rumbling diplomatic discussions about who exactly owns the border mines are likely to flare up into physical violence, and what side each employee is likely to be on?
Will the skilled expatriates whom an HR director based on another continent has headhunted prove so bad at managing the local labour force that they strike, causing the company to miss delivery deadlines and face massive penalty payments?
All these are real possibilities caused by the failure to assess local conditions and realise that, as in marketing and trading, talent management in Africa also requires solutions carefully tailored to local conditions and legal requirements.
In short, companies that do not take an holistic view of talent management and talent development will shortly discover that, while Africa may have talent, they have no talent for making it in Africa.
A Look At Youth Mentorship During Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)
Entrepreneur: A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off from 12 November – 16 November. Around the world, entrepreneurs are carving out their paths and are taking matters into their own hands.
Back home, Futureproof wants to instil a culture of curiosity, tenacity and risk taking in every South Africa – young or old, intrapreneur or entrepreneur.
In fact, we go as far as to teach young children from the age of 8-years-old about the art of entrepreneurship as part of our countrywide school program. Most recently, the company has seen success in the Orange Farm area and is teaching 110 Grade 3’s to master the art of entrepreneurship.
To celebrate this week, the team at Futureproof interviewed several well-known entrepreneurs and asked them the big question: ‘What do you wish someone had told you before you became an entrepreneur?’ Here’s what they had to say:
Clive Murray, the founder and CEO of World Water Exchange: “Making money is easier than keeping it. Don’t change the rules you make for yourself when times get tough.”
Marc Ashton, former MD of Moneyweb and CEO of Dynamic Body Technology:
- Don’t start a business…
- If you are feeling foolish and still wan to then do it with partners.
- If you are doing it with partners then lay out the terms of divorce upfront.
CEO and Co-Founder, Lisa Illingworth says that Futureproof has made it their life’s mission to aid children with the real-life, hands-on skills that they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.
“Text books just don’t teach the things that entrepreneurs really need to know. So much growth and economic activity can be realised out of entrepreneurial ventures, but we are all too scared to take the leap… why? Because we don’t feel supported and we would probably prefer to stay in our comfort zones”.
In fact, while entrepreneurship could literally catapult our country, an article in the Daily Maverick in 2017 described entrepreneurship in South Africa as ‘Sitting backwards on a donkey riding further away’.
Issues that entrepreneurs will come to face, even in their younger years is that of funding issues, lack of mentorship and opportunities, low skill levels, compliance and of course, poor standards of education and lack of access to education.
The current structure of the education system was initially designed in an entirely different age to achieve economic outcomes that are no longer viable due, in large, to the rapid innovation and adoption of technology.
“Gearing the country up for the forth industrial revolution is proving to be a challenge in both the public and private sectors. Are we really ready and how we use this particular week of the year to relook the problems and derive opportunities from them?” says Lisa.
Lisa provides context on the issues that entrepreneurs face. “Imagine this: you have a brilliant idea but no investment. You have no clue where to begin but you take it to the banks and a few potential investors. Without a solid plan and ‘street smarts’, the deals fall through, or you jump through hoops, give away more than half of your company and land up working tirelessly with no returns. This a reality for many who really don’t know how to launch an idea, understand its feasibility and raising the capital they need through mechanisms that won’t cannabalise the business at a later point.”
Lisa says that the country remains hopeful for President Ramaphosa to implement his vision for entrepreneurship as stated in the SONA 2018. “The President stated that ‘establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5-billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups’,” she continues.
“We need to change how and what schools are teaching for this to be realised on a large scale and providing the foundations so that these kinds of funding initiatives will have the best possible chance of growth and success”.
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How Schindlers Attorneys Became Involved In The Landmark Cannabis Case
Everything you accomplish accumulates and eventually comes back to assist you further along in your career. This is how a final year LLB assignment became the basis for a Constitutional Court case.
Schindlers Attorneys are the law firm that were involved in the landmark Constitutional Court judgement on cannabis use within a private space. Paul-Michael Keichel, Partner at Schindlers Attorneys shares how they came to be the foremost legal experts on cannabis and how they became involved in the Constitutional Court case:
How the journey began
“In 2005, my first year at Rhodes University, whilst studying for Intro to Law, it occurred to me that there were strong constitutional points that could be raised to objectively justify the decriminalisation of cannabis in South Africa,” explains Paul-Michael Keichel.
“In my final year LLB, 2009, I took Constitutional Litigation as an elective (largely motivated by the creation of a timetable clash, which meant that I’d not have to sit another semester of lectures for a module that I had failed the previous year). This provided me with the opportunity to write an assignment titled “A Critical Analysis of Prince and an Objective Justification for the Decriminalisation of Marijuana in South Africa”, in which I composed my argument (based on the right to equality in our Constitution).”
The start of the partnership
“Fast forward to 2013 and the Dagga Couple find themselves at Schindlers (where I am a first-year associate) to register their NPC, “Fields of Green for All”. The attorney handling the registration (who I’d also bored with my argument) suggests to the Dagga Couple that they speak to me. It turns out that they already knew of me, because my assignment had (unbeknownst to me) done the rounds on the underground cannabis networks. We get chatting and I rope-in my brother, Maurice Crespi, the managing partner of Schindlers,” explains Keichel.
“We are the only firm out of many approached by the Couple who are willing to take on their trial action against 7 state departments and Doctors for Life to push for a declaration of constitutional invalidity of the laws prohibiting cannabis use/possession/dealing in South Africa. We decide to run the challenge for them pro bono.”
The Cape ruling that started it all
“Prince and Acton et al have their matter heard in the Cape, which resulted in the 2017 Judgment. We run a portion of our trial (including expert evidence from international scientists and doctors – the best in field), but it is rendered part-heard. We then heard that Prince and Acton et al’s matter will be heard by the Constitutional Court in November 2017 and we decide, with the Dagga Couple, to intervene in that matter, upon which it is confirmed that my 2009 assignment forms the on-record basis of a major chunk of Prince and Acton et al’s arguments in support of legalisation.”
“Our involvement in the Constitutional Court was such that we provided clear legal argument and authority to support and expand upon what Prince and Acton et al were trying to say to the Court. Ultimately, much of what we submitted has found its way into the judgment of the Constitutional Court.”
How a final assignment became the foundation for a Constitutional Court case
“So, an idea (bolstered by wanting to create a timetable clash) resulted in an assignment, which provided certain credibility and impetus to cannabis activists. Two of these activists ended up being our clients, which, despite being handled pro bono, has brought Schindlers immeasurable positive publicity, and which, ultimately, contributed to the decriminalisation (and potential future legalisation and commercialisation) of cannabis in our country.”
“Schindlers now has a dedicated “Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis Law” department, through which we will continue to make submissions to parliament, apply for licenses on behalf of our clients, support those who have been arrested and charged.”
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