Multinationals are realising the benefit of presence in Africa
According to a report from Jack Hammer, a leading executive search firm in South Africa, businesses are increasingly investing directly into the markets they wish to enter, no longer using South Africa as a base for their continental operations.
“From the briefs we are receiving, it is clear that global companies expanding into Africa no longer favour South Africa as the obvious port of entry,” said Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, CEO of Jack Hammer.
“Companies are now looking for country managers, executive leadership teams and sales offices based elsewhere on the continent in large part because they are starting to realise the value of having a physical presence.”
This is largely down to local organisations and businesses becoming increasingly unwilling to work with those who are offering little back to the local economy whilst piggybacking off the markets.
However, companies themselves are also seeing the potential that Africa has to offer, with over 50 distinct African markets to work with.
“Although South Africa certainly has its challenges, this move away from the country as the gateway to Africa is not purely because of push factors, but rather the pull factors of other African countries,” Goodman-Bhyat continues.
“There is an ongoing influx of businesses from Lebanon, Israel the USA and so forth. While they still see South Africa as a solid market, they don’t necessarily view it as the only option when investing infrastructure and resources.”
Other countries are offering better opportunities in terms of growth than South Africa, such as the Morroccan financial sector, something that has attracted the interest of a number of big name firms.
Jack Hammer reports that as many as 36 multinationals have representatives on the continent outside of South Africa, including a recent move from Volvo in setting up a truck-manufacturing plant in Mombasa.
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.