African Tobacco Farmers United in Plea to be Heard
Tobacco farmers from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa met in Harare, Zimbabwe, over the past three days to discuss issues that will have a major impact on their livelihoods.
Representatives of tobacco growers from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa together with representatives of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) have called on all governments, particularly those from the tobacco-growing regions, to include them in discussions of policies that will have a direct impact on their lives.
ITGA President Francois van der Merwe said that tobacco growers are alarmed that recommendations on tobacco proposed for the next Conference of the Parties (COP6) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will penalise growers for whom tobacco crops are a route out of poverty and a way of life.
"The people driving these policies are completely out of touch with reality and fail to recognise the positive economic contribution that tobacco growing makes to Africa," he said.
"This is a high-value cash crop very much suited to small-hold farming, and has changed the lives of many African farmers for the better."
Gavin Foster, President of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, pointed out that most of the tobacco produced in Africa is exported.
"Growers are naturally concerned about efforts in the context of the FCTC to change the way tobacco is treated in the international trading system," he said.
"If allowed, such changes would prevent tobacco-producing countries like Zimbabwe from legitimately defending and benefiting from those exports."
Tobacco growers, said Van der Merwe, have been excluded from presenting their point of view and have been denied any chance to engage with those pushing for these punitive measures.
He added: "We are asking governments – and representative bodies such as the United Nations – to engage with us in a constructive dialogue instead of shutting the door on our lives."
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.