Linklater's seminar showcased Africa to Dutch firms
Rapid economic development and an improving business climate in sub-Saharan Africa offer great opportunities for Dutch companies.
Specific knowledge and technology in the food and agri sectors and in the infrastructure and energy sectors are in great demand as the region develops its potential.
With the right access and partnerships, Dutch companies can play an increasingly important role in this development as both economic growth and investment are set to accelerate.
Global law firm Linklaters organised Africa: Empowering; a seminar held in Amsterdam bringing together experts from Linklaters’ Africa practice, a number of prominent panellists, South African law firm Webber Wentzel and the Southern African Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (SANEC).
The seminar was attended by 200 business leaders and representatives from African governments.
Professor Rob van Tulder of RSM Erasmus University, said: ‘”Over 2000 Dutch companies are already doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in imports and exports and with relatively little investment,”
Van Tulder who is co-author of a strategic guide for Dutch entrepreneurs in Africa, added: “The Netherlands has a lot to offer in the key sectors of development. But it will take more innovative strategies and an inclusive approach for Dutch firms to gain a sustainable competitive position and seize the unmistakable opportunities Africa offers.”
The Dutch government actively supports corporate investment in low and middle-income countries, as its policy focuses on development through trade.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced the Dutch Good Growth Fund, a €750 million facility for SMEs operating in emerging markets and for financing of local SMEs.
Dutch SMEs that make investments in or export goods to these countries that are relevant to development, can call on the fund.
Activities from local SMEs can also be financially supported. Simon Smits, Director-General for Foreign Economic Relations, explained at the seminar how this new direction in supporting development stimulates both Dutch and African trade and business.
Speakers at the seminar also included Kennedy Bungane, Chief Executive, Barclays Africa Regional Management, Pieter Bootsma, Executive VP Commercial Marketing AirFrance KLM, Dr Vic Prins, Director Aviation at Royal HaskoningDHV, Peter van As, General Manager, DIAGEO Angola, Peter Leon, Partner of Webber Wentzel and Dr Daniella Strik, Linklaters Amsterdam Head of Litigation and Arbitration.
Linklaters’ Africa practice has focused on the African continent for more than 30 years, with experience in over 50 jurisdictions.
In response to increasing demand for its services, the firm has complemented and strengthened its position in Africa recently by entering into a collaborative alliance with Webber Wentzel.
The bond also strengthens this leading South African law firm, says partner Peter Leon. “Cross-border deals and multi-jurisdictional matters require a combination of international experience and know-how and on-the-ground knowledge and resources.”
Doing business in sub-Saharan Africa has its own demands, notes Martijn Koopal, a partner of Linklaters in Amsterdam who advises on an extensive government energy purchase programme in South-Africa.
“It takes an understanding of how these markets work and a network to find your way. As we have a well-established practice focusing on the African continent, we are well positioned to help clients with our specialist knowledge of African legal systems, including English, French and Portuguese-based systems.”
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.