This last month SABA has been exceptionally busy expanding its network and influence on behalf of its members with governments across Africa and UK government departments such as the Department of International Trade and DFID.
This last month SABA has been exceptionally busy expanding its network and influence on behalf of its members with governments across Africa and UK government departments such as the Department of International Trade and DFID.
Established in 2018, Morocco Gold is a unique Scottish Moroccan business partnership that brings an ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil from an amazing new source to health-conscious, discerning food lovers worldwide. As primarily an internet business, we bring a locally produced, centuries-old product into the forefront of global online retailing. Morocco Gold exemplifies the SABA goals of bringing together African and Scottish based businesses to create and execute opportunities in an ever more competitive and challenging world.
To find out more please click to view our information sheet.
As a global consultancy, KURO work with organisations to understand the environment they are operating in and how they can grow – whether its translating needs into goals or creating
effective strategies and improved business performance. The KURO team have over 60 years’ experience working across a range of sectors worldwide at private, public and government level. Combining a tailored approach with practical industry knowledge they deliver solutions that create measurable results using competencies and methodology which is not only transferable but proven across different sectors worldwide.
To find out more please click to view our information sheet.
Edinburgh College is one of the largest colleges and leading publicly-funded further education (TVET) providers in the UK. Based in Scotland’s cosmopolitan capital, we have around 26,000 student enrolments and 1,200 staff, and four campuses across Edinburgh city. Edinburgh College has a broad curriculum which includes Business and Administration, Creative Industries, Early Years Education, Engineering, STEM and Construction, English Language, Health and Wellbeing, and Tourism and Hospitality.
To find out more please click to view our information sheet.
David Tyrrell found himself in Africa as a direct result of his tenacity and work ethic displayed in his prior positions working in the UK for Rhône-Poulenc, now part of Bayer. His expertise lies in Agriculture management, technical development & sales and marketing. He currently works as a consultant for projects focused on business development and processing outputs to add value and benefit smallholder farmers. David’s work resides across East Africa, where he is now a permanent resident of Kenya. The other countries he has worked in include Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Sudan, Madagascar. Throughout David’s career, he has engaged with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation grantees, Gatsby Rockefeller and USAID. In working with these organisations, David’s work across East Africa has been impactful in addressing the gaps in the agricultural supply chain across the region. Acting as a valued consultant and advisor for SABA, David encourages Scottish agriculture and agro-processing entities to invest in the region as not only will returns be made, but these investments will continue to limit the gaps in the regional supply chain and in turn work towards alleviating poverty and creating wealth through business.
Could you briefly just run through the highlights of your career and describe the differences/challenges you faced when you first engaged with East Africa?
Firstly, it is important to note David’s educational background. David acquired a degree in Agriculture and Environmental Science in 1976 when this type, of course, was new to the University landscape. He later received his certifications in Crop Protection in 1986 and completed his MBA by 1992.
David’s senior-level career began in 1992 where he was the marketing manager for Rhône-Poulenc Agriculture ltd. In this role, he was responsible for a million-pound budget to improve the company’s relationship with distributors and target small farmers across the UK. Upon doing this with incredible success, David was promoted to the Managing Director/Regional Manager of Rhône-Poulenc East Africa Division. His team increased to over 150 individuals and his turnover increased to the tens of millions of pounds. In Africa, David quickly understood that the market was entirely different. The majority of farmers were smallholder farmers, with a minority of estate farmers. Driven by impact and commercialisation, David’s role focused on empowering and improving the supply chain for small-holder farmers. Further, in his commercial capacity, David had to alter the company’s distribution and sales strategy for the African Market. As the majority of farmers were smallholders, the pack sizes of pesticides & animal vaccines had to be reduced to facilitate its appropriate use.
David has taken on several consultancy roles involving aiding in applications for funds from USAID, DfID, Gatsby & the African Enterprise Challenge fund (the Challenge fund). More specifically, in his capacity as a consultant, he also aided an investment fund to improve the distribution and reach of high-quality seeds to small-holder farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. Another role included working with the challenge fund was drafting a business plan for a media business called the Shamba Shape-up in Kenya. This ingenious project consisted of a makeover show for smallholder farmers, . The show empowers farmers by improving their information needs regarding agri-tech, livestock vaccinations and strategy to improve yields. The show is sponsored by numerous organisations like Rockefeller and Wild Aid. It has 5 million viewers and operates in 3 countries. David’s role in setting up this program and acquiring the initial donor funds for its success was monumental. The show also created a separate spin-off business called iShamba. iShamba is a call centre of agricultural experts where farmers can SMS in their questions or call in to speak to an expert for instant help; all they need to do is register and they have access to a wealth of free information, alternatively, farmers can pay for a premium service.
What are some of the projects you personally value, that you have helped raise funds for?
One of David’s favourite projects is the Moringa Seed Project now present in Kenya. With the help of the Challenge Fund, David assisted the preparation of the business plan for a large scale moringa seed farm and processing facility. Moringa plants are extremely durable plants, whose seed is used for consumption and seed oil is often used in beauty products.Kilifi Moringa in Kenya is a project that empowers women to harvest and process moringa seeds to produce oil that is later sold and used for the production of other goods. This business strategy of not only farming the seeds but including an additional processing component creates a value-added product that is more valuable to commercialise than the raw commodity of the seed itself. The main economic benefactors of this project and others like it are women. Women are the drivers of the Agricultural sector across Africa and their empowerment improves communities as a result. Statistically women invest up to 90% of their earnings back into the communities they live in opposed to men who only invest 35%. To improve rural communities across the continent, the answer lies in the empowerment of women and in the promotion of agro-processing which creates value-added products.
Other projects include supply chain development for mangos, chilli and herb production, improvement of farmer information systems and chicken farm input supply. David also engaged in climate-smart agriculture projects incorporating livestock health, dairy, irrigation and bioethanol projects. His experience covers all aspects of the agricultural sector and his expertise in improving these areas and creating profits is unmatched.
One of your projects included assessing Tilapia farms in Kenya for a potential investor, the environmental impact of sustainable fishing is crucial to Africa. How can this project contribute to the sustainable industry?
David worked as a consultant for a Tilapia farm project in Kenya. The goal of the project was to evaluate 3 farms based on Lake Victoria to producing up to 300 tons of tilapia a year. This project was necessary as the tilapia industry was taking a huge environmental hit due to overfishing. Catching fish became much more difficult, hence farming fish became the alternative. The project consists of creating cages offshore on the lake, filling the cages with tilapia fingerlings which take about 9 months to reach maturity. The farms on Lake Victoria have been successful, however, it faces difficulties with regard to theft. Accordingly, large investments in floodlights and patrol boats are necessary to protect the farm and future profits. The running costs of the facility, particularly feed costs, also pose challenges to the profitability particularly when faced with cheap imported tilapia from China.
Similar farms are being set up in Kenya and Uganda to address the dwindling wild fish populations and create a more sustainable strategy towards fishing. However, the challenges faced with fish farming are vast. The lack of cold chain facilities not only results in a waste product, but it is unsafe and unhygienic. In addition, the logistics of poor roads that slow down the movement of fresh fish produce also create additional costs to investors. These costs can be mitigated with increased investment in facilities and cold trucks; however, it limits access to this market to large financiers as opposed to local small-holders.
How would you describe your network within East Africa?
David is well known in East Africa. Most of his consultancy jobs come to fore by virtue of word of mouth. Accordingly, David possesses a large network across the region within the private sector. As he extensively travelled between Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania with the Challenge Fund, David has interacted with individuals of all statures, sectors and nationalities. Where his strongest networks lie in the aforementioned countries, this does not limit his access to other states within the region or the continent. David prides himself in the connections, business partners and friends he has met along with his incredible career and is certain he can not only uncover viable investments within the region but aid in the procurement of capital.
How would you describe the work culture in the region?
David’s country of choice (also happens to be his home), is Kenya for a number of reasons. Kenya is one of the easiest East African countries to work in. The business culture and government engagement are facilitative rather than obstructive as faced in other regions.
The business culture and environment in Uganda is similar to Kenya in a number of ways. The private sector for agriculture is vibrant. Whilst the country is small, it is very busy and active. David possesses a wealth of experience working in these aforementioned countries as well as Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar and Sudan.
How did you get involved with SABA?
David joined SABA by word of mouth. His golfing friends happened to be friends with SABA’s Chairman John Paterson, who know John from his career at British American Tobacco. Their mutual friends introduced them, and the rest is history. David serves as an agricultural consultant and expert for SABA. As SABA continues to grow and take on more projects, it hopes to fully utilise David’s expertise and network.
Chris has worked in the financial services sector for over 30 years in numerous roles and companies across the world, from the UK to Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Chris is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has been responsible for the expansion of several companies across Africa, namely Standard Chartered Bank and Letshego Holdings. In doing so, he contributed significantly to the development of local banking regulations and policies in a number of countries, including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria South Africa and Tanzania, as well as to the establishment of fin-tech bank alliances and promotion of these across sub-Sahara Africa. His expertise and network today make him an important advisor to the UK Department of International Trade and the I&M Group in Kenya – his expertise covers trade, digital investments, risk management, execution capability and performance. Currently, also he holds a Board seat on the Bank subsidiary of a public quoted East African Banking and Insurance Group while advising a number of early-stage FinTechs. Prior to working with MNCs in Africa, Chris worked for Goldman Sachs and Arthur Andersen in the 1980s which provided him with the skill tenacity to take on Africa in his various roles as well as with National Bank of Kuwait between 2008 and 2011.
Standard Chartered Bank is one of the largest banks in Africa. Please would you briefly explain how much it has changed since you took your first position back in 1990? What other financial institutions did you work for?
“When I joined Standard Chartered, it had about 20,000 employees, and now it has something like 90,000. I watched and helped the Group grow into what you see today in a number of countries.” Chris’ expertise lies in emerging markets and within his roles at Standard Chartered, Chris was able to capitalise on this in his various Chief Executive Officer roles in India, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. Chris has travelled extensively across the continent, giving him the opportunity to explore each country’s specific priorities and policies as well as regional advantages on offer. He has had an influence on the structure of financial regulation, introduced new financing options e.g. project finance and strengthened the overall presence of Standard Chartered across Africa in his 18+ years with the company.
Also, Chris worked at Letshego Holdings, one of Botswana’s largest multi-nationals with a public listing on the local stock exchange for 5 years where he was responsible for strengthening Board governance to international standards, and building the required understanding and support for the investment needed to execute a digital and disruptive strategy built on ecosystem leverage that promoted sustainable MSME financing and financial inclusion. He worked tirelessly to expand the sub-Sahara Africa multinational presence to eleven countries, transformed the business and delivered a market cap of ±USD400m while at the same time giving local communities access to finance that previously passed them by. During this period also he was a Board member of Diamond Bank Nigeria Plc for 3 years.
Chris’ career has taken him to other parts of the globe too – he has held senior-level positions at the National Bank of Kuwait for 5 years as well as working in India, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea with Standard Chartered.
It is safe to say that in his 20+ year career on the continent, Chris has not only been a true influence in the formation of the banking sector today but has built a network there with depth and breadth.
Which different countries did you interact within your role with Standard Chartered and how would you describe your relationship and network with these countries?
Luckily for Chris, his positions within Standard Chartered and Letshego Holdings allowed him to experience a wide range of what the continent had to offer – he has travelled and/or worked in Angola, Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe; in total, he has travelled to at least 26 different African countries for business.
Chris maintains a strong network across Africa, where many of his colleagues now work in government, some for central banks and also in the private sector. Chris maintains frequent contact and still possesses a personal mandate to be involved directly in Kenya/East Africa, Nigeria and South Africa through his current portfolio appointments.
How did you impact/transform mobile money and fin-tech across Africa?
Chris correctly observed during his posts that Africa possesses a large informal sector. These informal sectors are clearly visible in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and more. While at Letshego, with goals to reduce poverty and create an economic base for this informal sector, he sought to improve access to finance for the underbanked across multiple sectors. These citizens needed to be able to borrow, so to do this he launched an initiative in partnership with the continent’s leading mobile money providers such as MTN, Airtel and Econet to launch mobile loans and other providers such as Jumo. This project started with Ghana where small loans were offered over the mobile from between $5 and $100; within a year nearly one million customers were registered and over time this rose to approximately four million people. The personal impact of this initiative on the livelihoods of Ghanaians was immense. This project was later introduced to Zimbabwe and Lesotho via Econet Wireless and in parallel mobile savings were launched in Tanzania. In addition, Chris aimed to improve the use of mobile wallets on the continent as formal banking was not common amongst many citizens – these wallets were targeted to bridge the gap is agribusiness supply chains. As agriculture makes up more than 50% of the labour in most countries across the continent, providing these stakeholders with access to finance speeds up the supply chain and overcomes many of the current discontinuities in agribusiness.
As you joined the continent when it was still trying to gather its footing (1990), how would you say you impacted the development of financial regulation across the continent? What did you bring to the table?
Chris introduced new ways of financial governance. In Tanzania, he was a part of a private sector founders pool where he drove government policy change towards promoting economic growth. Further, in Botswana and across its sub-Sahara African operations, Chris worked towards promoting financial inclusion that aligned itself with Government and Central Bank agendas. This led to the progressive development of mobile wallets as quasi-bank accounts — this is now an extremely common form of banking in Africa. Similar practices were introduced in a number of countries and as Chris had an influence on policy he made it his mission to aid those that were financially excluded from the present form of banking. This was possible as Letshegoworked as a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) on policies as they related to KYC/AML for individuals without bank accounts/national ID. Also, he worked on influencing bank regulations (e.g. on capital and liquidity management) to make it simpler to operate non-bank financial institutions who wanted to offer basic banking services to the financially excluded. AFI was a membership organisation representing over 100 emerging markets, including 20 for Africa — most members were either Government’s Ministry of Finance or Central Banks — Letshego was the fifth private sector member alongside Visa, Mastercard, BBVA and GSMA.
What impact did the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) have on your career and business in Africa and the Middle East?
Shortly before the GFC, Chris was recruited by a Middle-East based bank, National Bank of Kuwait, and by the time the global markets crashed, Chris had begun a new post there as the Deputy CEO of the International Banking Division. The Middle-East escaped the brunt of the crisis in the early months; however as the Madoff Ponzi scheme was uncovered, a number of banks were caught by this. Further, regulators in the Region implemented many of the new banking sector regulatory changes of the developed markets to add resilience to their own. Regardless, the crisis was a blessing in disguise for many as the resulting tightening up of regulations meant that stronger banks around the globe such as Standard Chartered, came out stronger and better than when they went in, in part due to increased capital adequacy requirements imposed by Central Banks, alongside improved supervision.
As Africa became your home and you grew incredibly fond of some of the countries you lived in, what sort of charity/ grassroots work did you participate in?
Chris has been influential in the grassroots and charity sector of sub-Sahara Africa for many years. He was one of the first “HIV awareness” ambassadors at Standard Chartered Bank in the late 1990s and went on to be a member of the founding committee for the ‘Seeing is Believing’ programme that Standard Chartered Bank launched globally to tackle avoidable blindness. He worked with the albino society in Tanzania to raise awareness of the unnecessary harm to people with albinism and in South Africa, he aided a local community by funding the conversion of a shipping container into a classroom.
Chris lives by Standard Chartered’s motto “here for good” as he feels it “comes from the heart” – the banking group continues to work tirelessly to the benefit of local communities where it operates across the globe and on the African continent. Chris then took this DNA and practices with him to Letshego Holdings – Letshego’s tag line was “Let’s improve life.” This was put into practice where the bank invested in the provision of finance for education, health and low-cost housing businesses of its customers. Also, the Group sponsored raising awareness of life-threatening non-communicable diseases that most Africans never really considered, such as obesity and heart disease. Further, he strived to make an impact where he could in the education and healthcare sectors as obviously, this is an important part of improving the livelihoods of communities.
You have been developing you non-executive advisory roles over the last couple years – what organisations and businesses have you been advising and what sort of work did you advise them on?
Chris was approached by UK government, namely DIT, to do 2 things; to help build the Government’s network in financial services for the African Investment Summit in January earlier this year, and to develop a strategy on how the DIT’s Financial and Professional Services team can collaborate more effectively with UK based banks to promote trade and investment across the world. This involved working with the UK and International Banks in the UK, as well as with the PRA/FCA and Banking Trade bodies and through this he identified that there could be enhanced use of the UK Export Finance facilities if the department engaged more fully with digital platforms focused on trade, FX and international payments. Further, the strategy highlighted that the absence of Banks in the UK from countries that are strong UK trading partners may have economic consequences for these countries. Also as implications of Brexit come into full play, the UK will need to shift its focus to these strong trading partners, including in Africa. Linked to this and more recently, the DIT has launched the “Tech for Growth” programme that is looking to facilitate African based tech companies’ entry to the UK as well as UK tech companies keen to enter Africa – the UK government wants to enhance investments in finance and fintech on the continent.
What is your connection with SABA and what is your hope for the organisation? How would you help SABA shift the narrative that Africa is not worthwhile to invest in?
Chris was introduced to SABA through a colleague working at FinTech Scotland. Upon meeting SABA’s Chair and CEO, Chris was delighted to become a part of SABA and its vision for the African continent. He shares the concern that Scotland has been left behind by the UK Government and others in their involvement on the continent when Scotland has so much to offer. To address this, Chris joined SABA as a Financial Services and FinTech advisor to aid the facilitation of related investments from/into the continent.
With regard to an often negative narrative around Africa, Chris believes that this is a misconception. The continent has a very young and entrepreneurial population as well as being rich in resources – this potential must be realised sooner rather than later and the nations that capitalise on this will be much more economically successful than those that sit and wait for the world to come to them.
Craig McLaren is a well-versed businessman who possesses an array of knowledge in healthcare infrastructure – logistics, supply chain – and business practice within Africa. Born in Scotland, raised in Zambia, and having lived for many years in the Middle-East, Craig has always valued and respected the diversity in peoples’ cultures and livelihoods. This understanding of these differences from a young age equipped him with the necessary skills to become Area Managing Director for Johnson and Johnson (J&J), encompassing Africa and the Middle-East. Craig has been influential in developing healthcare businesses in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
His extensive and expansive network across Africa, developed over his many years spent on the continent – stronger in some versus others – means that he is probably a phone call away from a network connection who can link him with relevant people – commercially and at government level.
His key commercial networks exist through local distributors, J&J management in the countries mentioned above, industry trade associations he was instrumental in developing and at government level through their Ministries of Health.
Keynote achievements of his successful career include the collaboration with East & West Africa Colleges of Surgery for the establishment of dry skills labs for surgical skills training, a wet lab in Sharjah in UAE consisting of three-way cooperation between the UAE Ministry of Health, Sharjah University and J&J and the overall development of healthcare infrastructure across the Middle East and Africa. In addition, Craig prides himself in overcoming the grand challenge of bringing sense to the development of regulations across the region for medical devices but also to introduce a code of conduct to the industry and in particular to their distributor partners — ‘healthcare compliance.” This is now a set of standards aimed at stamping out unfair and corrupt practices and is a key requirement for Mecomed membership; a trade association Craig aided in developing during his tenure.
His 30+ year career is admirable not only in respect of the positive business impact he contributed to but also with regard to the promotion of successful corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in many of these markets during his postings.
What did your work with J&J consist of?
His first posting with the company led him to manage a small office responsible for coordinating business opportunities between gulf countries. In 1997, Craig was promoted to become the Managing Director for the Middle East for J&J which was responsible for the medical device and diagnostic business units.
Recognising his potential, Craig was then posted in Europe as a Vice president, where he was responsible for supporting 6 European Heads of business providing value propositions for e-business as well as spearheading the quality institute in EMEA. During this time Craig enhanced his skills in communication, strategic planning and quality/business process improvement. His successes in this role equipped him to become an Area Managing Director responsible for the Middle-East and part of Southern Europe. Craig moved back to Dubai in 2010 and took on the responsibility of expanding J&J’s reach in African countries, together with expanding the business hub to manage Turkey, Middle East and Pakistan. He was tasked to devise a regional structure for the 6 operating companies under his wing. With this monumental task, Craig was sure to take divergent approaches between the Middle-East, Africa, Europe and Asia as they require “completely different market strategies due to the massive difference in healthcare spending between the regions.” Under J&J, Craig swiftly moved on to maintain numerous senior-level positions in emerging markets as well as in Europe. In total, Craig managed 14 business units for J&J across 80 different countries in his role as Area Managing Director with responsibility for Turkey, Middle East and Africa.
What was your biggest challenge in operating businesses in Africa and the Middle-east?
When doing business across regions, Craig finds it pertinent to understand local cultural nuances. “You cannot lump all of Francophone Africa into one. The Maghreb region, for example, has several cultural challenges between themselves which are important to address in a market appropriate way. You’re working environment and your team will not succeed and get along if you are unaware of how these cultures interact with one another.” To address these differences, Craig shifted his strategy in Africa to segment it not simply by country but further through distinguishing between rural and urban areas.
Additionally, culture can also be seen as the behavioural style of companies in the region. This can be influenced and shaped by a focused recruitment strategy so that the right profile of individuals joining will positively impact the local company cultures. Approaching his business strategies this way allowed Craig to successfully impact J&J’s presence in 80 countries between the continents.
How would you describe your engagement with the government? What were your challenges in this regard? Do you have any best practices advice?
Engaging with as many governments and key stakeholders as possible is crucial to the success of your businesses in Africa, but the key is deciphering who holds influence and the power of decision making in each market/country. One of the challenges becomes being able to understand and address the needs of the country and government you are doing business with so you can match your value proposition accordingly.
“From a J&J perspective we divided Africa into the relevance of size, opportunity and market need which allowed us to make meaningful contributions in the major focus markets we worked in; these consisted of Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa”. One of the challenges with government whilst working in the healthcare sector is making it clear that you are a business and not a charity, however with the narrative and intention of doing business within a country for a long period time, corporate social responsibility kicks in and addresses some of the major concerns and needs a nation would face such as healthcare professional’s training and other infrastructure requirements.
Craig engaged with various senior healthcare stakeholders and heads of peer healthcare organisations to better recognise the gaps in the market and the major issues of concern for the industry. In the process of doing this Craig helped to establish Mecomed, a healthcare technology trade association covering the MENA (Middle-East and North Africa) region. Mecomedhas now become the primary communication conduit for multinationals in dealing with government stakeholders, such as regulators.
What was your greatest challenge working with healthcare in Africa?
“Policy and healthcare compliance.” Working in Africa has its challenges and at J&J, the company prides itself in the responsibility it takes over its business partners and distributors. “In my early years the markets in Africa were only accessed via local distributors and so the real intimacy with customers was very remote. Additionally, there was no real control over the distributor, the quality of their reps etc.”
J&J have high compliance standards, meaning every employee and engagement is considered to be an extension of the company itself; thus, there is no room for leniency with regard to ethics and standards of behaviour when dealing with the local business challenges. “When I left, we had a clear set of values and vision for the businesses, for our customers and the communities we serviced locally through locally based partners as distributors.” Craig also paired these local distributors together with locally-based J&J managers in Africa to bring extra support to the distributors but also to manage key relationships with healthcare professionals, institutions and other key stakeholders.
The key was aligning all intermediaries to the same goals, as they were in effect an extension of our brand on the ground. The biggest impacts were in Egypt and East Africa. In addition, all markets are at a different place in their evolution and the set of challenges are often different. South Africa, for example, has a very developed and sophisticated private healthcare market where skill and capacity is good but access is limited. The accessible market in South Africa — the public sector — is underdeveloped and underfunded and therefore the relative difference in the quality of life and care varies dramatically between private and public.
The other common challenge across the continent is access to health in rural versus urban areas ( e.g. primary care for basic needs such as inoculations). The overwhelming need across the continent is for resources, but the resource most needed and often underserved is in the number of and the capability of healthcare professionals. So, training and numbers are the real issues, with infrastructure needs coming next.
What do you say to the narrative that working in Africa is more effort than it is worth?
“This is a terrible preconception, and those that believe it simply do not understand Africa and the opportunity it presents.” Craig finds that investing in Africa is a long-term plan and opportunity. The West sees the continent as having a slow return on investment and lose patience, however, China sees it otherwise and have gained a foothold on the continent. “You can create real sustainable value in Africa and SABA sees this opportunity.” Craig also personally believes that the world has benefited from taking the most precious of resources from Africa and they should ‘wake up’ to their responsibility to invest in and aid in the continent to a more sustainable progression of economic development.
What community impact did you have on the regions you work with? A community can be defined as both government and people.
When doing business in Africa, it is crucial to know your intentions; are your interests long term or short-term? Where your intentions are long-term, a good CSR strategy for local communities is crucial to the success of your business because not only does this gain goodwill with authorities but the impact on the community and your brand is unmeasurable.
J&J’s CSR work contributed to the development of the healthcare sector in terms of healthcare capacity and capability, which in turn comes full circle in aiding the success of the company in the long run. Craig lobbied for the establishment of several partnerships between J&J and local teaching hospitals. As mentioned previously, this consists of the creation of ‘dry labs’ for on-site simulation training of medical professionals’ skills in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. “We also opened a wet lab facility in Sharjah, UAE with a faculty that also involved surgeons from Africa, so that the more advanced surgical techniques could be taught.” At its core, reinvesting in the community, especially in the healthcare sector benefits the progression and expansion of the sector as a whole.
In terms of ‘government/trade-specific community,’ the biggest was Mecomed which was a concept to bring the benefits of an industry voice for medical technology manufacturers to the emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa, and in particular with their regulators (the model for us was Eucomed, the trade association in Europe for medical technology). This now saves every company from the duplication of effort and it means that the same messages are received by all at the same time.
Initially, Mecomed was founded by 6 regional business heads and it now represents over 35 organisations — approximately 80% of the industry. The early focus was on the Middle East and North Africa, but now their reach extends to Sub Sharan Africa.
What do you do now?
Craig is a Non-Executive Director, Trustee, Business Advisor and Executive Coach. He is now responsible for assessing, managing and developing business strategy, strategic thinking, employee engagement and the effectiveness of teams for small and medium-sized businesses in his capacity as a business advisor. Craig is passionate about teams and culture development in organisations. “Where there is a good business culture in a team or organisation, you can execute strategy much more effectively.”
How and why are you involved with SABA? What is your hope for SABA?
Craig was approached by the Chairman, John Paterson to join the board of SABA during its conception. Getting involved with an organisation like SABA wasn’t ever a question as it combines his two geographic passions — Scotland and Africa under one roof. He also knew John from many moons ago when they were both residents in Dubai and had often discussed the challenges facing Africa. “I hope SABA grows into the African market and becomes a trusted partner to connect needs and opportunities with services and solutions between Africa and Scotland. SABA’s potential to be a major connector in the investment facilitation process is vast.” Craig’s expertise in healthcare and regional management makes him a valued board member, this Global Scot is a major asset to SABA and its network.
Roger Mullin has engaged with numerous International Organisations such as UN agencies, SADC, the World Bank and individual governments throughout his career. This former Scottish MP is an Honorary Professor at Stirling University and has a diverse set of expertise where designing and running Technical and Vocational Education and Training Programs (TVET) is merely just a slither of what he is well versed in. Roger has spent 40 years promoting and implementing successful TVET programs across Scotland and Africa. His ability to navigate the different educational dynamics has equipped him with skills that set him apart from the rest. Coupled with his Humanitarian expertise with the Revive Campaign working on de-mining warzones, Roger is familiar with the many cultures and landscapes the African continent has to offer. Roger Mullin has experienced a renowned career that is impossible to cover in one piece of writing. Here we will explore Roger’s TVET experience and impact in Scotland and Africa. Throughout Roger’s career there exists a large degree of overlap of positions and projects that truly speak to his capacity and efficient understanding of his roles.
How did you first get involved in education?
Roger first entered the education scene in the late 1970s tutoring at The Open University and the University of Edinburgh and was appointed as a Head of Department at Stevenson College by the mid 1980s. Roger became more involved with Scottish policy for different Vocational training programs as he noticed the growing demand for effective vocational education, particularly for our youth. Roger then left his position and started his own research and consultancy firm where he worked with various educational bodies across the UK assessing the weaknesses in current vocational schemes. Roger was an advisorfor the National Council for Vocational Qualifications and wrote a paper for them critiquing the assessment process in competence based qualifications. He has consistently worked in his various capacities to reform vocational qualification schemes across the UK.
How did you get involved with TVET schemes in Africa?
Roger’s first project in Africa in 1992 consisted of reviewing the fishery sector in Namibia in partnership with a Scottish fisheries consultant. Following their report, the government invested in the first fishery college Namibia had ever seen — the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institute. This recommendation was based off one of Roger’s key philosophies of building the institutional capacity of a nation. “There can be no success where a company or organisation comes in, does the job and leaves. You need to build and transfer knowledge to the community; that is how effective change occurs.”
From Namibia where did you go and how did you get these projects?
Anyone working in Africa knows the power of word of mouth. Once the South African government heard about the work Roger was undertaking in Namibia they requested him to assess how to develop their staff at the Quintiles Science Park in Pretoria. Roger also worked with Icelandic colleagues in developing a fisheries and capacity building strategy for the Southern African Development Community (SADC, a group of 15 countries) to refresh its fishery approach and practice. As his reputation grew so did the demand for his expert services.
How did you get involved with International Organisations like the UN and Food and Agricultural Organisation?
“Word of mouth and the ability to respect and understand culture.” Roger attained his projects with the FAO, UNDP and the World Bank simply via word of mouth. “Building rapport is vital. It is important to engage with people as individuals at a human level. There must be respect and understanding of the other’s culture and the way in which they do business.” In one of the best of instances where Roger really engaged with his peers, he ended up being the best man at one gentleman’s wedding. “Once you build that initial relationship, then you may use your expertise objectively.” If you fail to build effective personal relationships, Roger believes you make doing business much more difficult.
Building rapport and being culturally aware is crucial to doing business in Africa and accomplishing your goals. What other advice would you give someone looking to make an impact on the continent?
Roger asserts that where one looks to make an impact and advise on any program — TVET or otherwise — the goal is not to write the report on the way there. It is impossible to make worthwhile change where one lands on the scene believing one knows all the answers and thereby fails to listen and learn. Often one’s perception of a situation from the outside becomes radically different once you step on the ground. “One shoe does not fit all, so we cannot expect to transfer knowledge effectively to different communities unless we adapt to local cultural norms.” Being open, understanding and a good listener are the main tools one needs to invoke when doing business and thereby importing change upon the continent.
You have spoken a lot about reform in Vocational Training, can you provide an example of some the reform you introduced in Scotland and abroad?
In 2001, Roger worked as an advisor to Scottish Parliament for its inquiry into Lifelong Learning. In 2011 to 2013 he was a special advisor to Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell working on the reform of the college sector in Scotland with a focus on Vocational Qualifications. He was responsible for the initiative behind merging numerous Scottish Colleges into larger regional colleges. For example, Roger helped facilitate the creation of Ayrshire College by merging Ayr College, Kilmarnock College and James Watt College. This change in the college system was needed to develop vocational education approaches to serve all of the people of Scotland. Roger’s achievements abroad may be seen most notably in the early research and subsequent recommendations to government that led to the creation of the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institutein 1996.
Education has always been at the forefront of your projects and policies. Can you please explain how you incorporated this into your work with the Revive Campaign?
The Revive Campaign works to encourage governments affected by landmines and improvised explosive devices to address the needs of victims. In 2016 while a Member of Parliament, Roger was invited to address an annual United Nations meeting in Geneva where he argued for more political priority to be given to the humanitarian consequences of explosive weapons such as landmines and IEDs. In November 2019 , Roger attended a three day conference in South Africa considering the needs of Angola as it continues to seek to remove landmines. He was one of only two delegates specifically invited to address the humanitarian consequences of landmines and IEDs.
How and why did you get involved with SABA?
Roger was running a session at the Institute of Directors in Edinburgh discussing the opportunity to trade with Africa almost two years ago where SABA’s CEO, Frazer Lang was in attendance and the rest as they say is history. The two shared a mutual interest in trading in and with Africa and have since worked together with the High Commissioner to Namibia, Ms Linda Scott. Roger has proceeded to work with the High Commissioner and Namibia generally following the Namibia Heads of Mission meeting SABA hosted in November 2019. Roger has sought to assist the High Commissionin identifying sources of PPE equipment for Namibia during the Covid-19 pandemic. As always, Roger has maintained a great connection with the High Commissioner and looks forward to pursing further relationships and projects with SABA.
James Crawford is a profound international mind whose expertise goes beyond Oil and Gas operation and maintenance. His experience working for conglomerates such as Marathon Oil and Wood Group PSN in Directorial positions within the African continent in the last 30 years has equipped James with the skill set and tenacity to do business across Africa. As the Regional Vice President for Marathon Oil in Equatorial New Guinea and Managing director for Wood Group PSN’s UK and Africa business, James has influenced the development of the Oil and Gas sector as a whole — from promoting local content laws to introducing new labour laws that protect industry professionals in the 16 different countries he directly worked with. He is currently the Managing Director for Kuro — a global consultancy company whose expertise delivers services across a wide range of disciplines and industries.
Who is James Crawford?
James Crawford truly is a GlobalScot not only by virtue of title but by virtue of his worldly experiences that could make the most adventurous of lifestyles seem mundane. James was raised in Lesotho and Sudan and has never lost his connection with the lifestyle, culture and experiences Africa had ingrained in him. Whilst a Scotsman by birth, James carries the heart of Africa within him. His established career and an incredible degree of work experience has not been inspired by fame and fortune but rather respect and understanding for a region he once called home. James’ familial connection with Africa drew him back towards the continent at the first opportunity he saw working for Wood PSN as the Managing Director for Africa. His respect for his former home may be easily visualised through his expansive industry and community work throughout his career.
Over his 30 years of experience working with less developed countries with Marathon Oil and Wood Group PSN, James has held senior managerial positions throughout his career as Regional Vice President for Marathon Oil in Equatorial Guinea, President of the Asset Solutions Business Unit for the Europe business and Managing Director for Wood Group PSN’s UK and Africa business. James’ career has encompassed the most trying times for the African content whilst working in Equatorial Guinea during the Ebola epidemic, with several states during the Global Financial Crisis as well as working through Civil Wars in a number of countries.
James has personally worked with 16 different African countries each presenting their own unique opportunities and challenges. His experience with government at every level is truly something to respect and admire. James pioneered numerous initiatives alongside his projects that improved and promoted the welfare of the local communities. He aided the development of local content laws and new business practices such as “shift patterns” in Cameroon. In addition to introducing new “ways of working” in the country, James played a key role in implementing labour laws protected his employees and accordingly influenced labour law reform. James managed a 1200 person team in Chad, where skilled labour is typically scarce. The success in this posting didn’t only lie in the successful running of the Oil field but in the upskilling of the workforce were the most extravagant job title at the time was a local farmer. To see the progression of the workforce from “ farmers to crane operators was truly rewarding.” James’ contributions to society did not end with promoting legal change as he started numerous projects with the Wood Group that resulted in building small schools, partnering with charities to build orphanages and supplying communities with basic necessities like bedding and housing supplies. Whilst doing business has its knock-on effect of stimulating the economy, improving household wealth and technical knowledge, James understands that it doesn’t hurt to do more. These acts of kindness have attributed to the remarkable reputation James has acquired across the continent with communities and officials.
As a passionate African at heart, James truly understands, respects and admires the working environment the continent provides. He strongly maintains the philosophy that the risk of working in Africa is overstated and many of these perceived risks can be easily mitigated via building your network with experienced business professionals in the UK such as James himself and with local government, conducting hefty research prior to setting up your business and always being culturally aware of where you are. James stresses the importance of being open-minded and embracing the culture you expect to do business with. He insists that you “remember, you are not in Scotland, the rules here are different.”
The key to starting a successful business on the continent lies in your morals, transparency and your “apolitical” nature. James finds that those who fail to do business in Africa stumble at one of these hurdles. Through his decades of experience, James cannot stress enough how advantageous it is to be transparent and honest from the start in your dealings on the continent. By doing this from the onset the perception of you and your business by the community and the government is one of utmost professionalism which contributes significantly to the mitigation of risks during the course of business. Having engaged with a myriad of cultures and emphasising that each country has something different to offer; James maintains that transparency and honesty are welcomed across the board. There is no alternative and there is no better or easier way of doing business.
From living in warzones to more stable African countries, James welcomes the excitement the continent offers. His expertise in maintaining successful businesses in different regions speaks to the overall legal stability the continent offers. James has joined the SABA team as a board member for very similar reasons as to why he chose to work with Africa from the inception of his career. James loves to help companies grow and succeed just as much as he enjoys the impact successful business has on the livelihood of its employees. Through his work with SABA, James hopes to continue to promote successful business opportunities in the Energy sector across the continent. He believes that despite the popular narrative, the skills and talent available across the continent are admirable and worthwhile and his evidence to support this claim lies in his successful career. SABA looks forward to working with James and his network to facilitate the success of Scottish business in Africa.
As almost every aspect of life has changed over the last few months, the same can be said for SABA. Covid-19 and the global halt of international travel have severely impacted our scheduled meetings and events for the year;