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Development recognised for its work in Africa

Recognition of its unique approach to building skills and capacity came with the recent selection of Interims for Developmentby GWIIN (the Global Women Innovators and Inventors Network) for the 2005 Gold Award for Capacity Building at its recent British exhibition and awards in London.

Imagenterims for Development was set up in 2002 in response to the needs expressed by African private and public sector organisations for the technical skills and expertise needed to advance the continent’s development agenda. 

“We established Interims for Development to support African companies to grow and develop their businesses,” explains Frances Williams, Chief Executive of the company.  “One of the key reasons for the lack of development in Africa is the scarcity of technical and managerial systems and skills within our businesses and institutions.” 

Since its inception Interims for Developmenthas worked with both local African companies and with international companies operating in Africa.  Assignments in Africa have included providing Human Resources advisory services, developing and implementing business development and training programmes as well as capacity building for companies across sectors as diverse as textiles, mining, brewing, international development and financial services.

Through its work, the company aims at contributing to business growth and thereby to poverty reduction. 

“Poverty results when access to the means of creating wealth is restricted or denied.  The African continent is rich in natural resources and has a wealth of talent in its human resources.  Successfully addressing the barriers restricting people from creating wealth will reduce poverty over time,” says Ms. Williams.  “Sometimes the barriers are institutional; sometimes the barriers relate to people not being skilled or not being sufficiently skilled in the right areas to create wealth.”

Recognising that a successful organisation employs more people and provides the financial resources to tackle poor health, education and social dislocation, Interims’mandate is to work with African businesses to enhance the capacity of their human resources to grow the business and generate further employment. 

 In terms of its future projects the company, says its CEO, aims to build local African capacity to address issues of poor governance. 

“Organisational systems for combating corruption in many parts of Africa can be weak.  In 2004 we delivered a seminar in Ghana on ‘Understanding and Combating Money laundering’ to address this aspect of corruption and also developed a successful workshop for implementing corporate ethics and CSR for a major African business.  We are currently developing a programme designed to build capacity in African local and central government to help create awareness of good governance and to strengthen anti-corruption measures.”

“Africans have enormous potential to translate the continent’s natural riches into strong economies and thriving societies.  What we focus on is helping to make that transition happen by building on the capacity and skills of Africa’s talent.”

As a company run by Africans based in the UK, accessing the skills of qualified Africans in the Diaspora for the continent forms a key part of the Interims agenda. In response to interest from younger, less experienced people to contribute to African development, the company established its Graduates for Development programme in early 2004.  Although less seasoned than the typical Interim, young graduates with high potential provide affordable short-term skilled resources for small and medium sized African enterprises.

The company also works in partnership to assist qualified young Africans in the UK to overcome barriers to obtaining highly skilled employment and facilitates internship opportunities with employers in Africa. 

Such internships offer the receiving businesses inexpensive skilled human resources and provide interns with experience and networking opportunities as well as an entry point for the eventual return of their much-needed skills back into Africa.

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