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Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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An Expatriate Lifestyle with AMSCO in Africa?
Image A placement through AMSCO can provide challenging professional opportunities and a desirable lifestyle in Africa.

AMSCO's professional managers all share one thing – a passion to change Africa! A pioneer of capacity and skills development in the African SME sector, AMSCO (African Management Services Company) has, as its primary objective, providing assistance to African companies to enable them to become globally competitive, profitable and sustainable.

AMSCO provides hands-on, experienced, middle to top level managers to selected companies for contract periods of between three and five years. The organisation's key aims in assisting companies include installing management systems, improving the company's operational and financial performance and transferring capacity to local managers. AMSCO also provides technical and administrative backup support to these managers and monitors their progress to ensure that the client company's business targets are met.


RCA: What makes AMSCO different from other employers in Africa?

AMSCO: AMSCO exists purely to assist African companies become globally competitive, profitable and sustainable.

In order to achieve this, we build management capacity within the private sector by providing management skill and training support, primarily to African SME's.

As the Francophone region in West Africa continues to expand its economic growth..... there are a number of exciting career opportunities for French speaking candidates who want more than just the norm.

To this end, AMSCO seeks to employ a unique and exceptional blend of professionals from various nationalities who have a wealth of management skills and a passion to change Africa! We are passionate about development and most importantly, how to utilize private sector methodologies to deliver results.

It is not about performing activities. It is about deliberately delivering impact and measuring it. Working with AMSCO, is an opportunity!


RCA: What kinds of benefits can AMSCO managers expect to receive?

AMSCO: As a general rule, AMSCO employs non-nationals of the country in which the client company is located. This, of course, is because AMSCO's mandate is closely tied to skills transfer. AMSCO managers are UNDP accredited in our countries of operation. Our managers are paid on a foreign currency basis, usually dollars or euros, and generally receive the kinds of benefits associated with an expatriate lifestyle.

An AMSCO Success Story

Horus-Advans Cameroon is a microfinance project that started as an AMSCO project on January 1st 2007 in Douala, Cameroon under the name La Camerounaise de Microfinance (LCM). The company later assumed the name Advans Cameroon.

Image Advans Cameroon is a joint venture between Advans SA, a manager of funds set up by DFIs to promote microfinance projects in Developing World, Societe Generale de Banques du Cameroun and two prominent Cameroonian businessmen, Titi Maniaka and Andre Siaka. In June 2008, IFC became a shareholder of Advans Cameroun.

AMSCO seconded three experienced managers to Advans Cameroon to successfully launch the Company, to recruit and train personnel and to establish the Advans brand on the market. The managers seconded were French nationals Herve Proust, General Manager, Olivier Bailly-Bechet, Operations and Credit Manager and Christophe Ban Koffi, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer.

Prior to commencing business, the AMSCO managers supervised the completion of the headquarters in downtown Douala, the recruitment and training of the entire staff, the installation of equipment and the development of procedure manuals.

Advans Cameroon started operations on May 22nd 2007 with a capital of CFA 500 million (US$ 1 million), 44 employees and a mission to revolutionize the Microfinance sector in Cameroon and their chosen strategy is to focus on lending instead of savings and treasury services. Its target clientele spans micro enterprises to medium-sized companies and cooperatives.

Wealth Creation

After 7 months of activities, Advans could boast at the end of 2007 of a balance sheet of CFA 595, 893,132 (US$ 1,191,786), a loan portfolio of CFA 90,490,000 (US$ 180,980), 435 persons having received a loan, 324 depositors and CFA 46,491,608 (US$ 92, 983)in profits.

However, savings offerings are not neglected as Advans Cameroon intends to attract clients with no or little savings history by lowering the minimum required to CFA 5,000 (US$10).

Advans Cameroon has also introduced a new dimension to its credit policy by allowing individuals with low credit ratings to form solidarity groups in order to receive loans. Loan Officers given training in Risk Management will allow Advans Cameroon to extend loans to borrowers who would otherwise be shunned by commercial banks on account of being high risk customers.

Local Succession

As of end of October 2008, the total staff strength was 61 employees, including 34 women. The capital was increased to CFA 1 billion (US$ 2 million) in June 2008 with the entry of IFC in the shareholding structure.

The succession plan put in place since inception to ensure proper replacement of the AMSCO managers by local talent has been going on well. Mr Christophe Ban Koffi, CFO, was replaced at the end of his contract on December 31st 2008 by his Cameroonian deputy, Mr Alain Saapi (see picture). The succession plan strategy is also well on track for the replacement of the other two AMSCO Managers, Mr Herve Proust, General Manager and Mr Olivier Bailly-Bechet, Operations Manager (pictured).


From left to right: Alain Saapi (Deputy CFO), Olivier Bailly-Béchet (Operations Manager), Christophe Ban Koffi (CF, Hervé Proust (General Manager), Francis Ouantou (Head of Audit), Jean-Luc Nzoubou (HR and Logistics Manager), Eric Kuete (IT Manager).


RCA: What kinds of professional management opportunities exist in Francophone Africa through AMSCO?

AMSCO: As the Francophone region in West Africa continues to expand its economic growth the need for AMSCO's assistance has increased substantially. The demand for management skills is increasing and there are a number of exciting career opportunities for French speaking candidates who want more than just the norm....

Backed by AMSCO – represented across Africa, and our association to the UNDP – this is an opportunity for you to make an impact, and be involved with a world class management intervention.

RCA: How can African professionals find out more?


AMSCO: Visit our website www.amsco.org for more information on AMSCO and the exciting project we are involved in.

Feel free to browse the many Francophone positions that are available at www.amsco.org/recruitment

ImageBy providing qualified, experienced, hands-on, professional management to companies and public enterprises in Africa, AMSCO is helping to build profitable and sustainable businesses in Africa.


ReConnect Africa speaks to the management services company that is actively looking to recruit African professionals.

RCA: What is AMSCO and what are the organisation's objectives in Africa?

AMSCO BV, the operational arm of the African Training Management Services (ATMS) Project, is a specially constituted vehicle that is wholly equity funded. AMSCO's role is to second interim management skills and experience, for a period of three to five years, to needy African enterprises with a view to producing local successor managers through on-the-job and other training.

The AMSCO managers have, over the last twenty years, helped to improve the competiveness, profitability and sustainability of the companies they have been seconded to. In 2008 alone, AMSCO has created over 13,000 jobs in the private sector. The ATMS project is a regional project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the executing agency and African Development Bank (AfDB) is regional coordinating agency.

AMSCO is looking for professionals who can fit in to modern African businesses and make a long lasting impact on the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of a company.


RCA: What kind of companies does AMSCO assist?

Image It assists African SMEs and commercially operated public enterprises that can afford its services.

By AMSCO's definition, a small company is one that has up to $3 million in turnover and assets while a medium one is up to $15 million.

Companies generating above that figure are considered large companies. They too form part of AMSCO's portfolio.


RCA: What have been some of the challenges AMSCO faces in developing management skills within African companies?

Early termination due to various reasons, mostly culture shock, is a major challenge. AMSCO is looking for professionals who can fit in to modern African businesses and make a long lasting impact on the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of a company.


ImageRCA: What kinds of career opportunities are available to African professionals working for AMSCO?

They are available in a wide range of sectors. AMSCO has Managers operating in over twenty five countries in twenty sectors of the African economy.

AMSCO tends to recruit for senior management positions.

RCA: What particular benefits do AMSCO managers in Africa enjoy?

AMSCO, as a regional project of the UNDP, passes on certain privileges to their Managers. These include tax free remuneration and related perks such as the importation of duty free vehicles.

AMSCO has Managers operating in over twenty five countries in twenty sectors of the African economy. AMSCO tends to recruit for senior management positions.


RCA: What type of experience and management skills does AMSCO look for?

An AMSCO Manager must be mature, well travelled and possess diversity skills. A wealth of experience that can be passed on to local successors is as important as the ability to transform the fortunes of the company they are recruited to.


RCA: Are there particular countries or industry sectors that offer management opportunities for professionals in Africa?

AMSCO operates in sub-Saharan Africa and, currently, in twenty economic sectors. As a result, the range of opportunities is wide and varied.

AMSCO .... passes on certain privileges to their Managers. These include tax free remuneration and related perks such as the importation of duty free vehicles.


RCA: Can you share one or two of AMSCO's notable recent successes in adding value to a business in Africa?

AMSCO has achieved remarkable success in the vast majority of companies where it has been involved. Details of these can be found in our annual report on our website www.amsco.org.

For details of current vacancies with AMSCO, click here

First among Equals

The Premier Group’s vision of empowerment and equity continues to create opportunities for success.

ImageThe Premier Group is one of South Africa’s corporate success stories. A profitable and rapidly growing organization, the Premier Group successfully delivers a range of professional services, making it the leader in its field and a recognized employer of choice.

The Premier Group’s core business is the direct marketing of a range of innovative insurance and other value-added products.  It was established in 1994 by Iain Buchan whose vision was to establish an enterprise based on the ethos of empowering people to succeed – regardless of their background or social status.12 years later, the Premier Group has substantially broadened its base and has won the distinction of creating wealth for thousands of its hard-working South African employees, creating what it calls “extraordinary opportunities for ordinary people”.

ReConnect Africa speaks to Belinda Young, Human Resources Director of the Premier Group, about what makes the Premier Group’s employee proposition so compelling.

RCA: The Premier Group has been recognized as one of the best companies to work for in South Africa. What sets Premier Group apart from other companies?

BY: I think that there are two major items that differentiate us: We’re a learning organization and we have a philosophy of putting people first.  We encourage growth and development on a personal level as well as on a broader career/business level. We have spent approximately R10,000 per employee over the past 6 months for personal growth and development courses.  If you had to speak to any one of our employees who have attended some of the courses we expose them to, they will tell you it has changed their lives. We encourage every member of our team to get involved in the growth and development of the company at large, and an example of this is our Leadership Sessions every Friday afternoon where we share thoughts and ideas on company issues such as culture, growth and development, strategy and so on.

We recognize that our people are our biggest asset and without them we would not have a company. One of our overriding goals is to help shift this country and what better way to do that than through the lives of people we touch every day - our employees. Creating opportunities, growth, and wealth and adding real value to people’s lives is our driving force. We now have over 30 guys running their own business and have 600 making their way up to it - and some of them are millionaires!

Image RCA: The Premier Group has a Charter that sets out its vision and values and the culture that it creates for its people. What are some of the key commitments that the Charter makes?

BY: We are committed to being the very best we can be in everything we do.  We are committed to our employees, businesses partners and the community in which we operate. Our Charter is designed to be a roadmap to help us to achieve our goals in a manner which is in keeping with the ethos and founding principles of this organisation.

RCA: One of the Premier Group’s key achievements has been the creation of empowered business entrepreneurs.  Why has this been the company’s strategy and what has led to its success?

BY: In one, the founder of this business is adamant that he did not want to create something that conformed to standard corporate norms. People who have the drive and energy and dreams to create their own businesses are enrolled within The Premier Group and given the opportunity to achieve what they could not have done in normal employment.

Generally we find that these types of people have the following attributes:

  • Energy and determination
  • The ability to think out of normal paradigms
  • Motivated by success
  • Ingenuity - they see opportunities that others don’t

All of these traits have made our business what it is today. We acknowledge that we are far from being perfect and that we face many challenges, however, the calibre and drive of the individuals enrolled in this pioneering journey enables us to meet these challenges. Empowerment gives people the freedom to be creative, make decisions, make mistakes and grow from them. The combination of entrepreneurialism and empowerment is what gives us our creative edge and has thus lead to unbelievable growth and a very successful business.

RCA: The Premier Group includes a broad base of businesses and is going through a period of rapid growth and expansion. Where would you say that key opportunities lie within the company for potential recruits?

BY: Marketing is a key area, primarily because this is the area of our business that has been ignored whilst focusing on a very strong sales drive. We are currently looking for exceptional marketing people with the ability to manage products and brands and take them into a new dimension

I.T. is one of the core strengths of our organisation and we are exceptionally proud of the software that we have developed for our sales and call centre businesses. We are constantly looking for software development engineers who will complement and expand our existing team.

RCA: What makes ‘a Premier person?’ What kind of individuals are you looking for to grow your business and what kinds of skills are important to you when you hire?

BY: We aren’t looking for Premier clones.  We recognize and value diversity and we respect the individualism of our people, however, we expect nothing less than the best from them.  The kind of people we are looking for are people who, first and foremost, share our values.  Individuals who are prepared to take control of their lives, go the extra mile, be prepared to be empowered and to be held accountable.  Team players who show unfaltering commitment, passion for the business and for what they do.  People who we call A players.  People with skills – a high level of comprehension, good communicators, a high level of EQ, at the top of their game and with the capacity for new learning.

RCA: Can you give an example of a success story?

BY: It is always difficult to pick the most successful story as there are so many heroes. Now we have in excess of 50 people who own their own business, none of whom started with any capital, and of which two are earning in excess of R1 million per annum. The success story that stands out is where a young guy arrived late for the morning meeting and, on being reprimanded, apologized because he had so far to walk to work. Upon investigation, it turned out that he was walking 24km to work and walking 24km home! In addition to his 48km to and from work he still had to spend the day in the field, on foot, selling door to door. He could just not afford the transport costs. In spite of this, he ultimately ended up owning his own business and earning a substantial income on an annual basis which has put him in a position to change his life.

RCA: One of your key mission statements is “to be first. To be fair. To be fulfilled.” How do you judge your success in fulfilling this challenge?

BY: We judge our success by constantly measuring the pulse of the company, by the growth and development of our staff - and the business at large - and by how successful we are in living our Charter.

For more information about the Premier Group: http://www.thepremiergroup.co.za/

For details of current job opportunities with the Premier Group, visit ReConnect Jobs: JobsDisplay.jsp?page=1&pagenum=10

Fidelity – Banking on Success in Ghan

Fidelity Bank is one of the leading banks in Ghana today. Formerly Fidelity Discount House, the company has been operating profitably for eight years and, in 2006, became the 22nd bank to be licensed by the Bank of Ghana.

Fidelity’s emergence as a full service bank has seen the fulfillment of the dream of its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Edward Effah.  Under his leadership, Fidelity has, since its inception in 1998, successfully established itself as a leader in its markets in Ghana in terms of reputation, profitability and assets under management.  Owned jointly by a combination of Ghanaian and foreign individual and institutional investors and the Bank’s Executives and under the management of a dynamic, high-calibre team, Fidelity Bank today offers a comprehensive range of products and services to meet the banking and financial needs of both its existing and potential customers.

ReConnect Africa spoke to Edward Effah, formerly based in London as the Group Risk Manager of a derivatives and foreign exchange trader, about the challenges of returning home and Fidelity’s emergence as a highly successful financial business. 

RCA:   As a Chartered Accountant in a successful career with Coopers & Lybrand and then with Rudolf Wolff in the City of London, what inspired you to return to Ghana to set up Fidelity?

EE: A combination of factors inspired my return to set up Fidelity. Key among these was the desire to contribute my quota to Ghana, where the achievement and the returns expected are realisable as you are operating in your own country, and where the sky is the limit.

RCA: Fidelity started as a Discount House and was recently granted its banking license. What have been the benefits to your customers of making this transition to a full bank?

EE:  Fidelity as a Discount House could only offer her customers some limited services as she was not a bank. With the acquisition of the banking license, Fidelity Bank now provides her customers with a one stop financial solution.  The benefits include the provision of current accounts, mortgages, auto loans, other credit facilities, trade offerings, debit cards among others which make banking convenient.  

Our vision is for Fidelity to be a world-class financial institution that provides superior returns for all stakeholders. That means making it the best place to bank for our customers, the best place to invest for our shareholders, the best place to work for our employees and the best benchmark for our regulators to use.

RCA: What would you say differentiates Fidelity Bank from the other banks in Ghana?

EE:  What make Fidelity Bank unique is her deep understanding of Ghana’s banking industry and the adoption of a customised solution-driven approach in meeting the needs of her varied clientele. Additionally, we have invested heavily in technology to ensure that Fidelity is at par with the best in the world.

As a truly Ghanaian bank, we are able offer quick solutions on all banking needs required. Our product portfolio is wide and, therefore, there is product choice.  In addition, Fidelity Bank offers a professional personal service to all her customers and this is because we believe each customer is unique.   We price our products fairly and provide exceptional service to our customers.

Like any major full-service bank, we understand that faster, easier banking can affect the way you run your business and your life. We dare to be different. We're highly experienced, motivated and dedicated to personalised service and we take pride in our cutting-edge product lines and dedicate substantial resources to developing new and better ways to enhance individual and corporate banking experience. Our products provide the best quality and value because we are guided by the belief that “good enough is never good enough”.

RCA: Fidelity Bank has recently recruited further staff. What kind of people do you seek to recruit into the bank and what experience would be seen as particularly useful?

EE:  Each position within the Bank has defined minimum job requirements and specifications and competencies. Our recruitment is guided by that. However, we recognize that in a highly competitive environment such as ours, customer-focused, innovative, forward-thinking, team oriented and analytically astute employees serve as catalysts for organizational effectiveness, and these are the people we seek to recruit. In addition to looking out for people with an appreciable level of intelligence, we look out for people with the potential to be groomed into higher positions – and that is what our Graduate Recruitment Program focuses on.

RCA: Many non-resident Ghanaians and foreign investors are looking for safe and reliable means of investing money in Ghana. How can Fidelity help to address these needs?

EE:  We have a wide range of wealth creation products such as interest bearing Fixed Term deposit, call Account and Money Markets products that Ghanaians abroad can buy. These products are continuously being improved to stay relevant to customers. In addition, Fidelity Bank has two sister firms i.e. Fidelity Asset Management Ltd, whose main objective is to create value for personal as well as corporate investors by investing in the capital and money markets, and Fidelity Capital Partners Ltd who provide specialized venture capital fund management services. 

For further information about Fidelity Bank’s services and career opportunities: www.fidelitybank.com.gh

Matlejoane – Paving an Easy Road Back to South Africa

Image10 years on, Adelaide Matlejoane has fulfilled her dream of a truly empowered recruitment business for South Africa.

“Being a woman in a male-dominated business world is not an easy way to get a business started,” says Adelaide Matlejoane, the dynamic founder and owner of Matlejoane Staffing Services.

However, for Adelaide, the dream to build a recruitment business that would offer excellence to corporate South Africa was one that she was determined to achieve..

“I saw the need to establish a true Black Empowered Recruitment Service provider that would be truly representative of the South African culture and of the opportunities available in the new South Africa,” says Matlejoane. “As a young Black South African woman, my greatest challenge was how I would use my skills and channel my energies to fulfil my dream of being a productive citizen of this beautiful country.”

Adelaide’s passion for people from all walks of life, coupled with her extensive recruitment knowledge makes a powerful combination. With the firm belief that the service sector would be a key driver for the South African economy into the 21st Century, she decided to open her own staffing recruitment company and the idea of Matlejoane Staffing Services was born.

Determined to make her own contribution towards the development of her newly democratic country’s economy, Adelaide launched Matlejoane Staffing Services in 1997. Starting with only two staff members, Matlejoane Staffing Services is today celebrating 10 years of business and boasts 51 permanent staff members. On any given day, the company has over 1,000 temporary or flexible workers placed with different key clients.

Building the Brand of Excellence

Image}As with any business, Matlejoane has had its share of challenges along the way. Nevertheless, throughout the last decade, Adelaide and her team have stayed focused on their vision to be a leading staffing solutions provider by offering consistent service excellence and by keeping their roots firmly embedded in their community.

January 2002 saw the dawn of a new era with the opening of branches in Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein. Moving from being a pure staffing supplier to a holistic Human Resources solution provider offered further opportunity for growth and, in October 2003, the company opened an office in Pretoria.

ImageMatlejoane Staffing Services has built partnerships with several blue chip companies in South Africa and strives to place competent and highly skilled applicants across many business sectors. The company recruits across I.T., retail, construction and engineering, finance and banking, telecommunications and is a leading provider for the country’s rapidly expanding call centre sector.

Adelaide Matlejoane and her team have seen their success recognized by both their peers in the recruitment industry and the corporate sector. The company has received numerous accolades including the Contact in Gauteng HR Service Provider of the Year Award (2006) as well as the Fidentia Top Gender Empowered Company of the Year Award (2006). The organization was also a finalist in the 2006 Career Junction Recruiter of the Year Award as well as the South African Contact Centre Community HR Service Provider of the Year Award. An award of particular significance to the organization was the one received from ‘Impumelelo’, when the company was voted as one of the Top 300 Empowerment Companies in South Africa in 2001 and again in 2004. Matlejoane is equally committed to the professional development of its own staff members and has achieved the internationally recognized ‘Investors in People’ accreditation.

Opportunities for Returning South Africans

Kevin D’Allende, Matlejoane’s Managing Director, sees many opportunities for South Africans to return home.

“Many South Africans, prior to the advent of our democracy, left South Africa to seek greener pastures abroad,” he says. “Matlejoane Staffing Services would like to extend a warm invitation to these individuals to consider making a positive contribution to the economic development, of not only South Africa, but of Africa as a whole. To this extent, we invite skilled candidates to contact us so that we can start the process of getting skilled candidates back on the road to South Africa!”

There are opportunities for skilled professionals across the country, says D’Allende. “Since we have a national footprint, we are in a position to offer gainful employment to candidates in any region of their choice. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of Jozi, the warm waters of Durbs, the peace and quiet of Bloem or the beautiful scenery and winelands of the Cape; what I would say to South Africans outside the country is that we are in a position to make your walk on the road back to South Africa an easy one – and we’re waiting to hear from you!”

Now located nationwide, Matlejoane Staffing Services has branches in South Africa’s major metropolitan areas and candidates and clients can contact Matlejoane in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. For further information about opportunities in South Africa, contact Matlejoane on www.matlejoane.co.za

Return on CapitalImage

Returning to Ghana after a successful career in the USA, Kekeli (Keli) Gadzekpo, co-founder of one of Ghana’s leading financial institutions, speaks to ReConnect Africa about the Databank story and developing Ghana’s capital markets.

As a qualified CPA with a B.Sc in Accounting from the Brigham Young University in the US, Keli Gadzekpo could have opted to stay in the USA and continue his career in Washington DC with consultants KPMG Peat Marwick. Instead, he chose to return to his native Ghana where in 1990, together with Ken Ofori-Atta, they created Databank, making their mark on Ghana’s fast-changing financial sector.

Gadzekpo, a Mason Fellow with a Masters in Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, has been a key figure in various corporate advisory and financial restructuring assignments in Africa over the last decade. In addition to his work with Databank, Gadzekpo also sits on the boards of Enterprise Insurance Company (EIC) and the Home Finance Company of The Gambia and is a member of the Ibraham Index Advisory Council.

RCA: With so many of your peer group choosing to stay in the USA, what made you decide to return to Ghana?

KG: I had the opportunity in 1998 to visit Ghana and I felt that there was a big difference to when I had left 5 years prior to that time. The seed was sown then to return, although I continued to work in the USA for a while. In the early 1990’s, Ken Ofori-Atta proposed to me that we should consider coming home to start Databank. I was single and I had no particular baggage, so willing to take some risk.

RCA: What was the inspiration behind setting up Databank?

KG: I must give credit to Ken when it comes to this, as Ken originated the idea of setting up Databank. ImageMy contribution was to buy in to his energy and enthusiasm for the project, as he was confident that it would work out. I was an Accountant, a function that the company would need, and Ken was ready to take the same leap of faith with me. The Ghana Stock Exchange had been established in 1990 and Ken’s view was that if you have an Exchange, the logical next requirement is research and information on the stock. That’s how we took off - to provide research on the very new stock exchange. The Ghana Stock Exchange needed to be known and needed good research, so we cooperated with them very well on a professional level. However, we always saw Databank as a private company and our work was done independently of the Stock Exchange.

The initial team was three people; James Akpo, Ken and myself. We then took on 2 employees and, today, we have 100 employees based in Ghana, the Gambia and Liberia and we intend to soon establish a physical presence in Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

RCA: What do you think sets Databank apart from other financial institutions?

KG: I think that, as an organization, we’ve tried to maintain our confidence in Ghana and Africa generally and not just given up or been too critical. We constantly ensure we have the right attitude to the region. We also recognize that employing some of the basic human management skills that operate in the West i.e. incentives and fair treatment of employees, work just as well in Ghana and we bring that to the table. We run a very flat organization at Databank. We’re not big on hierarchy, but everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

In terms of our services, our unique selling point is the quality of service we deliver and our professionalism. People have confidence that we do our homework and that we know what we are doing. We always aim for gold standard customer care and courtesy. I would say that what really sets us apart is the rigour of our analysis and the innovation of our approach.

RCA: Since 1990, Databank has been part of Ghana’s rapidly changing financial services sector. What, in your view, have been the major highlights during this time?

Image KG: The Financial Sector Reform that commenced in Ghana in the late 1980’s showed that Ghana was leaving behind the old ways of approaching financial intermediation. That reform brought about non-bank financial institutions which enabled organisations like Databank to have a definition in law. The reform also brought about the Ghana Stock Exchange and that was seminal. More recently, this administration has upped the ante by getting Ghana sovereign rating on the world stage. This has given people outside Ghana a sense of the kind of economy that the B++ rating designates. Critics are hard pressed to condemn investing in Ghana when S&P and Fitch have rated Ghana strongly. In fact, Ghana will be shortly issuing the first sovereign bonds on the international market, a clear indicator of how far we have come.

RCA: What opportunities do you see in Ghana and other parts of Africa today for professionals like yourself who have gained experience overseas?

KG:The first thing I would say is that people need to be fully aware that Africa and Ghana are what I would call frontier economies. So, in my view, every single skill set needed in developed economies is needed here. Of course, there is a case of prioritizing which is the most immediately needed. We are still at a level where the core skills can make a difference, for example, good solid banking and insurance skills. You need to evaluate productive sectors; in Ghana the services sector i.e. tourism, ICT, etc. all offer opportunities and we have comparative advantage in agriculture. New media, marketing and so on are areas where, in my view, Ghana should push forward.

“You need to be able to translate the challenges and difficulties at home into opportunities. That‘s what I believe Ghana has to offer, a diamond in the rough. After all, if it was all shiny and glittering in the street, you wouldn’t come to meet it.”

RCA: If you could offer one piece of advice to those looking to come back to live and work in Ghana, what would it be?

KG: People should keep a very open mind and not get caught up in being a specialist, as the market place is wide open and still developing. The market may not be ready or interested in ideas that are too specialist, so people need to be good generalists and adapt to the opportunities. You may be a day or a decade too early so you need to be flexible and to see the challenges as opportunities as the benefits to breaking into these opportunities are many.

You need to be able to translate the challenges and difficulties at home into opportunities. That‘s what I believe Ghana has to offer, a diamond in the rough. After all, if it was all shiny and glittering in the street, you wouldn’t come to meet it.

For more information about Databank: http://www.databankgroup.com

Aiming to Make a Difference?

ImageGOAL - Seeking Skilled Professionals for challenging International Opportunities

From the start of its operations in 1977, GOAL has bee committed to the task of supporting the poor and vulnerable around the world. Over the last 30 years the international humanitarian organisation has implemented relief and development programmes across 50 countries including the DRC, Sudan, Niger, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

GOAL is seeking skilled professionals to continue its work and is launching a series of information events across the UK during October 2007.

As Olivia McGill from GOAL UK explains, “We need a variety of different people including accountants, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, logisticians and engineers, who are willing to devote at least a year to put their skills to good use while at the same time gaining tremendous life and work experience.”

Accountants Needed

ImageClaire Montgomery, a roving accountant for GOAL has chosen to work in Darfur. Her role has taken her through the length and breath of the largest country in the African continent. Based out of Khartoum in northern Sudan, Claire travels around the three GOAL field sites of Kassala, Abyei and Malakal.

“We need…. accountants, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, logisticians and engineers”,

Sudan is a difficult and challenging place to work. The United Nations Security Council recently expressed “grave concern” over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Darfur region. This, however, has not fazed Claire who has developed skills across a broad range of financial management activities.

“The roving role is fantastic. You’re right into it and see how programmes work first-hand,” she explains. “I travel around three sites checking all systems are in place and making sure the cash book is in order and the correct paper work done. I am also involved in the capacity building of national staff, working with Finance staff is different in each site as they all have different levels of experience.”

Mark Blackett is a CIMA qualified accountant who started with GOAL as Financial Controller in Uganda and has spent the past 19 months in North Sudan working first as Assistant Country Director and now as Country Director for GOAL. Mark has a message for any accountants who see a job with one of the Big Four as the biggest challenge of their career: “Try Sudan. If you really want to test yourself this is the place to come.”

Logisticians Needed

Imagine having your water pipe cut because you have not paid your water bill. Reasonable perhaps? But what if you have been sent no bill, you have no idea how much you should have paid and you have been given no warning that you are about to be cut off? That is the situation logistician Aoife Cormacain faced when she arrived in Sierra Leone as a Logistics Co-ordinator for GOAL.

For Aoife, life has been what she describes as “very interesting” in the six months since she arrived in Sierra Leone. “It’s pretty busy as there was a lot of work to do when I arrived. I get to see lots of different aspects of life here and how it all works. Something as simple as bill paying is so different, so I have to keep track of everything. The GOAL UK office in Sierra Leone is lucky because there are so many national staff in the office who already know how things work and help you to overcome most problems – and those you can’t, you just learn to accept.”

Engineers Needed

The tsunami and its devastating effects were observed worldwide, but Engineer Dyfed Aubrey wasn’t absorbing the 24-hour rolling news being transmitted into his living room in the days that followed the tsunami. He was already on his way to Sri Lanka with GOAL UK to assist in the emergency and reconstruction process on a tiny island that was mourning the death of 35,000 of its inhabitants.

Dyfed was coordinating construction work - rebuilding and renovating 62 schools, as well as coordinating the re-housing project. “Of the 300 houses promised by GOAL, most of them were built on sites where the original houses were destroyed, so that people could continue to rebuild their livelihoods, mostly in fisheries,” explains Dyfed.

At the emergency stage, in order to reinvigorate the local economy and help 1,000 fishermen and their families to get back on their feet, over 500 “day” boats were repaired. GOAL also distributed over 5,000 fishing nets along with ropes and floats to tsunami-affected fisher folk and deployed water bowsers for the distribution of drinking water.

“We’ve also built lots of roads, as most of them were affected by the tsunami,” he continued. “The important roads used to get to schools and hospitals were repaired first. We built five bridges that were completely washed away by the tsunami or the railings were gone, so it made them unsafe,” says Dyfed.

There is also an urgent need for engineers in Africa, as Laura Byrne, GOAL UK Recruitment Manager explains. “Engineers are always needed by GOAL after natural disasters where infrastructure has been destroyed or severely damaged, however there are also plenty of opportunities in our longer-term programmes in Southern Africa where we are improving housing, water and sanitation, healthcare and education facilities.”

Health Professionals Needed

Sinead O’Reilly has been working with GOAL since 2003, imparting her invaluable nursing skills in developing countries. Sinead’s first foray into the voluntary sector was a trip to a rural part of conflict-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“I was there to improve the capacity of the staff and there was a huge need for that at the time,” explains Sinead. “I spent my time training staff, writing reports, supervising programmes, responding to outbreaks of disease, as well as working on community health, teaching the local people about healthy eating habits and good sanitation practices. I also managed therapeutic feeding centres for malnourished children in the area. It is a very interesting and challenging job, and it’s impossible to get bored.”

Sinead’s second post was as Medical Coordinator in Darfur. “We set up emergency health programmes in Darfur,” says Sinead: “Both static and mobile clinics, especially in internally displaced people (IDP) camps. The work was similar to the DRC except there was more of a displaced population to treat.”

In July 2005, GOAL was one of the first agencies to distribute much-needed emergency food supplies to the most vulnerable in Niger, where as a result of drought and locust infestation, over 3.6 million of the 11.5 million population faced critical food shortages.

Sinead travelled as part of GOAL’s emergency response team to the famine-ravaged region to supplement a feeding programme that GOAL was running. “I worked in a rural area where a lot of children under two years of age were dying of malnutrition. We also carried out research to ascertain what the underling causes of malnutrition were - bad sanitation practises and a lack of clean drinking water.”

Now working as a Health Advisor for programmes in the field from GOAL headquarters in Ireland, Sinead has gained valuable exposure from her work in Africa. “Working with GOAL is a great experience and you get to see parts of the world that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

Travelling the globe and Making a Difference

GOAL UK is holding a series of information meetings around the UK for people interested in working or volunteering overseas with the organisation. For those with the right skills, working with GOAL could present an exciting opportunity to travel the globe and make a real difference to the lives of others.

To find out more or register for one of the information evenings, e-mail makeadifference@goal-uk.org or check the GOAL website: www.goal-uk.org

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