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Afrimari (African Maritime) is a professional networking group specialising in the dynamic and fast-growing African maritime, energy and trade related sectors.
Image Afrimari(African Maritime) is a professional networking group specialising in the dynamic and fast-growing African maritime, energy and trade related sectors.

Through quarterly gatherings, the network shares industry knowledge and expertise while connecting members with each other and the business community. The group encompasses professionals from three sectors: Maritime and Logistics; Energy, Trade and Finance, and Legal and Risk.

The network was launched in March 2010 by Temi Binitie and Gemina Cooper, both qualified members of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS). It has been supported from the start by leading organisations within the industry including AET, Braemar Seascope, Colemont Insurance, the ICS and Cass Business School. The networking meetings feature high calibre speakers who discuss the maritime and trade industry’s most pressing issues.

ReConnect Africa spoke to Temi and Gemina to learn more about the organization and the activities and programmes it undertakes.

ReConnect Africa: What were the key factors that led to the creation of Afrimari?

Gemina Cooper: Afrimari was created as a mechanism to service the maritime (and related industries) sector with professionals who focus on Africa. In a continent so vast, it has always been clear that one size does not fit all when doing business in Africa. Afrimari aims to both educate its members and bring a unique networking opportunity.

ReConnect Africa: What is the general image or perception that you think people hold about maritime issues in relation to Africa?

Gemina Cooper: For those in the maritime world… it’s one of excitement! Africa is the new global frontier. The continent is blessed with an abundance of natural resources waiting to be tapped, traded and shipped the world over. That being said, piracy in the East and West coast continue to be a concern to those dealing in those specific regions.

Africa is the new global frontier. The continent is blessed with an abundance of natural resources waiting to be tapped, traded and shipped the world over.

ReConnect Africa: What are some of the events or services that you offer through Afrimari?

Gemina Cooper: Afrimari hosts four events a year at the end of each quarter, the events are themed around maritime, logistics, trade, related finance, legal and risk. Guest speakers are invited to present to Afrimari members prior the networking session.


ReConnect Africa: How do you engage with professionals involved in the sector and reach out to them?

Gemina Cooper: Word of mouth has been our most successful marketing mechanism. Afrimari is a professional networking community, and the maritime sector by its very nature is a relationship led industry. Afrimari has grown from members sharing their own professional networks with the group.

ReConnect Africa: You are also a full-time working professional; what are some of the challenges that Afrimari has encountered since it was set up?

Temi Binitie: The key challenges stem from there not being enough hours in the day! Time management is paramount; balancing priorities becomes necessary. We have to work mostly in the evenings and weekends. Meetings are scheduled for lunch times or after working hours. In addition, there are challenges in keeping up to date with all things African Maritime related. My job does not directly correlate to Afrimari’s niche, thus I have to ensure that I am constantly reading up on the latest developments and newsworthy items.

ReConnect Africa: What would you identify as the key initiatives and programmes that Afrimari has been successful with?

Temi Binitie: Simply put, Afrimari’s key initiatives are to increase knowledge and build business partnerships. We have been successful with the increase of knowledge through the variety of topics we have covered at our quarterly events. Notably, we have addressed and informed our network on piracy and looked into gas as a source for power generation. In 2014 we look at the importance of data and the benefits of having such information when making decisions especially in a region which is not customarily transparent.

Our screening of a documentary in 2013 on the events taking place in the Niger Delta was well received; it spurred a healthy debate from a CSR perspective. We pride ourselves on the diversity of topics to stimulate thought and, importantly, generate business through networks.

ReConnect Africa: What are your future plans for the network and for getting your message out to a wider audience?


Temi Binitie: The plans for the network remain to be the ‘go to network’ for all things African Maritime related. We want to continue to build the capacity of those involved in the business in London. We aspire to develop internationally, with a base within the African continent. With respect of reaching the wider audience, we would like to build on synergies with other networks; ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ is a metaphor we relate to.

We recently connected with the Business Council for Africa, an organization at the forefront of doing business in Africa for the past 60 years. We would like to like to develop similar partnerships. In addition, social media is something we cannot afford to ignore, and Afrimari is currently present on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. We could do better with engaging with our members and attendees.

ReConnect Africa: How can readers join Afrimari or find out more?

Temi Binitie: Recently, we introduced a membership structure which confers priority access to attend our quarterly meetings free of charge. Amongst other things, it grants access to partnership events at reduced rates, and sometimes we have complimentary tickets.

To join Afrimari, we welcome professionals in the maritime, energy and trade related sectors. Full-time post graduate students are also welcome. Readers can visit our website for more information at: www.afrimari.com and we also have a presence on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

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