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I Encourage all Corporates To Identify Avenues for Incorporating CSR into their Business Strategies – Bekeme Masade

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Bekeme Masade

 

Bekeme Masade is a Harvard-trained social entrepreneur and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of CSR-in-Action. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of BAO, she spoke on the state of corporate citizenship in the country; how she has managed her company’s ultimate goal  “CSR advocacy” and the challenges involved among other issues.

 

EXCERPTS:

 

Tell us about CSR-in-Action

CSR-in-Action is a conglomerate of 3 sustainability focused businesses: CSR-In-Action Consulting, the College of Sustainable Citizenship and CSR-In-Action Advocacy. Our vision to be the foremost independent ethical action network and consultancy for collective social responsibility and corporate governance in West Africa was birthed in 2010. Since then, we have evolved into a leading sustainability consultancy with over 20 member organisations from the business and civil societies, partners in both public and private sector, and clients from diverse industries.

From inception, our goal has been to bridge the sustainability gap through the initiation of sustainable development, responsible behavior and good governance; and we have done this by promoting an inclusive approach to development at every turn. I believe that it is our ability to create solutions that marry the experiences in our local terrain with international best practices that has distinguished us from others, and we constantly work to develop increasingly innovative and sustainable strategies for our valued stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

It is in our efforts to redefine the sustainability terrain that we have, over the years, championed several strategic initiatives. Through our consultancy, we have advanced a major tenet of sustainability by supporting organisations like Etisalat Nigeria, Lafarge Africa, Total Nigeria and the Nigerian Stock Exchange to write sustainability reports, in compliance with the world recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework; and assuring reports of organisations like Access Bank. Having introduced the GRI framework to the Nigerian market, today, we are an organisational stakeholder of the GRI and the first indigenous Accountability AA1000 Assurance Partner in Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the advocacy front, we have several flagship programmes including the Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Conference – now in its 6th year – which has brought together key stakeholders in the extractive industries to engage in high level deliberations over opportunities for growth, development and diversification in the sector, with key consideration for good governance, community development, environmental responsibility, and effective stakeholder engagement.

Since 2015, we have partnered with the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to garner active participation from the public and private sector; and in 2016, the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, Ford Foundation and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also came on board as partners. We’ve had other partners over the years span several industries including the Canadian High Commission, BusinessDay, Zenera Consulting, Shell, Chevron, Lafarge Africa, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Zone 4 Energy, and a host of others.

The Collective Social Investment Report is also one of the flagship programmes we are very proud of. This compendium serves as a repository of information on the sustainability strategies and activities of corporates in Nigeria, and goes on to rank them per industry based on global standards in the 3C-Index. We partnered with Accenture in building the framework for the 2014 report, and Ernst and Young served as a reviewer to ensure proper analysis of the information. The 2012, 2013 and 2014 reports – as well as the ranking – can all be found on our website.

Also under advocacy, we have the Good Citizen Initiative, which is a focused campaign to reorient the minds of everyday Nigerian citizens to act responsibly to the end that we build a Nigeria we would all be proud to call home.

Over the years, we have recognised that we cannot only tell people to do, but we must also empower them to do. Our College of Sustainable Citizenship runs an entire gamut of sustainability focused courses that will build the necessary capacity in individuals, corporates and governments to understand the economic, social and environmental responsibilities that accrue to them, and action these effectively and sustainably.

Our holistic approach, therefore, provides a suitable platform for responsible individuals, non-profits, philanthropists, organisations and governments to develop and showcase their ethical and sustainable investment initiatives, and incorporate best practice that will lead to the promotion of sustainable development in every sector of the Nigerian economy.

Is there any difference between philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and corporate citizenship?

Certainly, there is. Philanthropy has a narrower, more limited scope than both corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate citizenship – which can be used interchangeably. Philanthropy refers primarily to donations made to charitable or non-profit groups either by the corporation, its employees, or both. CSR – which is also sometimes called corporate citizenship – deals with the economic, social, and environmental consciousness and responsiveness of an organisation, which can involve philanthropy.

We know popular philanthropists like, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, and John Rockefeller, to name a few. These individuals, through their foundations, have given billions of dollars in aid to vulnerable communities all over the world, and we find many companies who do same. While donations to communities, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, clinics, or schools is commendable, the paradigm has shifted, and demands that we go the extra mile to address an organisation’s need to treat their stakeholders ethically and with respect; this is where CSR and corporate citizenship take the reins.

With CSR and corporate citizenship, a company has to show its commitment to ethical behavior, balance stakeholders’ needs, and protect the environment, whilst creating economic value. The link between its efforts at CSR and its core values must, therefore, be strong to make notable impact.

Leading a social enterprise in Nigeria, what has your experience been in CSR consulting, advocacy, and sustainable citizenship?

CSR-in-Action began with advocacy; and our experiences in the space drew our attention to the disconnect between the efforts of corporate and public sector organisations, and the needs of the communities within which they operate. Thus, we have honed our skills to provide better positioning and alignment of goals, strategies and programmes.

It has also been our experience that concepts with more long term benefits than immediate pay offs, take more time to catch on, but eventually do so given the right environment, commitment, and support. Just a few years ago, the general reaction to the subject of ‘sustainability’ or ‘CSR’ was rather disappointing. Companies were neither willing to accept responsibility, nor make the requisite changes and adopt new innovations to create shared value for all. Fortunately, the wind of change blowing across the globe has changed that perspective in Nigeria. Organisations now see more clearly the need for responsible and sustainable behaviour if they will compete, survive and even excel on the local and global scale.

For instance, many of the multinational oil & gas companies have been compelled to pay more attention to their exploration activities and its environmental impact in their host communities. The increasingly strict regulations in this regard, and the brand equity they lose by failing to comply has inspired a previously scarce sense of commitment to doing business responsibly. And we have seen this deliberate attention come into play in the increased participation from both public and private sector in the SITEI conference over the years.

The marked growth we have seen has certainly been encouraging. Through our transition to training and consulting, we have helped many companies set the standard for sustainability in their respective industries by not only raising awareness on international best practice, but by building capacity and supporting these organisations to take steps in the right direction.

What are the major challenges facing social entrepreneurs in Nigeria?

It often feels as though these challenges are innumerable, but for starter, there is the lack of funding. Because social entrepreneurs are more focused on social, cultural and environmental issues that do not immediately boast economic viability, funds are often not readily accessible. This typically leads to organisations that lack efficiency in their operations.

There is also a clear lack of mentorship support. The younger social entrepreneurs are usually full of passion but have little experience when they venture into this sector are thus in need of capacity to set up professional establishments. Unfortunately, the right type of guidance is often not available. Looking at CSR-in-Action for instance, at the beginning, no other organisation was driving CSR like we were, as such, there was no local example to learn from or emulate. We were, therefore, forced to look beyond the shores of Nigeria to acquire the necessary training and guidance that would make us stand out.

Another major challenge is genuine partnerships from reputable bodies. The ability to make tremendous impact would be tremendously enhanced through collaborations, yet, many social entrepreneurs lack access to such partnerships – international and local. Where social entrepreneurs have fantastic ideas with clear plans for implementation, and valuable benefits, they often need the support of reputable, bigger and more viable organisations to implement successfully. Unfortunately, many of these organisations do not buy into the vision, and such programmes die naturally, or are implemented poorly.

Poor infrastructure has equally hampered progress for all types of organisations, and social entrepreneurs are no different. Erratic power supply, bad road network, poor transport system, and many other socio-economic issues have significantly raised the cost of living in Nigeria, over the years. Nigeria has been judged one of the fastest growing economies in Africa after South Africa, and with population of over 150 million people. Yet, we lack the basic infrastructure to meet the needs of majority of the population; how can we then hope to stimulate activities that will make the required impact on the society?

 

Of course, it would be impossible to answer this question without identifying corruption as one of the biggest problems a social entrepreneur faces. More disheartening is the fact that social entrepreneurs are just as easily perpetrators, as they are victims, of corruption. Where some projects have stalled because the organisation refused to give kick-backs to those who have deemed themselves ‘benefactors’, others have used their organisations as fronts to make quick cash at the expense of corporates with good intentions. It is, therefore, difficult to build trust, making progress practically impossible.

 

What sustainable strategies have helped you navigate the challenging business environment?

Challenges are not new, and in fact, we embraced this vision knowing the possibility of not just encountering them, but much more, overcoming them. Consequently, we made clear cut choices that would enable us to not only compete, but stand out in our market. Also, we clearly defined our strategy and business model, adopted a sustainable lifestyle as an organisation, and positioned ourselves to collaborate profitably with likeminded, future thinking organisations, both home and abroad such as the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).

Specifically, we have navigated the business terrain sustainably first by diversifying our portfolio to meet increasing demands in newer yet related spheres. We discovered that the world around us is changing constantly and quickly. As such, to avoid being left behind, we had to decipher other useful avenues to deliver relevant business solutions and by so doing, bring value to our clients in the most sustainable way. This has positioned us as a dynamic organisation with global aspirations.

Secondly, we have maintained our consistency of quality. We understand what makes us unique and what drives our market, and we have painstakingly maintained that level of quality service delivery to our esteemed clients. This, in addition to the integrity that we have become known for, keeps us ahead of the pack and has earned us the deserved respect. We strictly abide by moral values that prevent us from either giving or taking bribes, shortchanging our clients in any way, or manipulating figures for any personal gain.

I believe one of our major strengths also lies in collaboration. Like I earlier said, we have actively collaborated over the years with international and local organsiations. These collaborations have allowed us to leverage other – and sometimes bigger – platforms to sail through uncharted waters over the years.

Finally, we are keen on ensuring that we genuinely seek the good of our clients, developing new and sustainable ways of meeting their needs in a most transparent manner. We are dedicated to keeping our word as stated in any contract we sign, and where we are unavoidably unable to deliver on any of our responsibilities as agreed, we are forthright with all clients.

What recommendations do you have for corporates with no CSR plan operating in Nigeria and Africa?

Any CSR initiative must be deliberate to take advantage of the tremendous benefits that accrue.  With the increasing attention being paid to the positive or negative impacts of the activities of organisations, corporates are paying more attention to CSR, although traction is still somewhat slow. The key thing to remember is that CSR is not just a department, but must be an integral part of the system or framework that drives an organisation. That way, nothing is left to chance.

Today, global trends point to the fact that stakeholders are as equally concerned with social and environmental impacts of corporates’ activities, just as much as the economic impacts. Considering that no business can prosper in a declining locality. Thus, the problems of education, health, crime, unemployment, drugs, socio-political unrest, global warming, pollution, and a host of others, dramatically affect business. While businesses have previously considered these to be the exclusive domain of government, more and more business leaders across the world are accepting part of the responsibility to improve the communities in which they do business, thus setting good examples and standards for others.

I, therefore, would encourage all corporates to identify avenues for incorporating CSR into their business strategies due to the attendant benefits that comes with it. For instance, incorporating CSR can help companies engage with their customers in new ways, garner them the social license to operate, increase brand loyalty, and inspire innovative and cost-saving approaches to doing business. In the end, the reasons all come down to long-term competitive advantage.

 

Bekeme Masade

Bekeme Masade is a Harvard-trained social entrepreneur and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of CSR-in-Action; an organisation dedicated to promoting the advancement and awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility, women and youth empowerment, good governance and sustainable development in Nigeria.

She holds a Merit in International Human Resource Management & Employment Relations (MSc) from the prestigious University of London, Queen Mary College. As a renowned policy maker and private sector leader Bekeme was nominated to represent Nigeria, alongside other African nationals to understudy the German green economy – Energiewiende – and sustainability with a view to localizing the principles for economic diversification in Nigeria.

Under her leadership, CSR-in-Action has also enjoyed regional recognition as a sustainability expert from both the public and private sector. She initiated the Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) conference and has nurtured it into its fourth year with strong government participation. She also implemented the first ever Collective Social Investment Report in 2012 to showcase business activities in the light of Corporate Sustainability and recently partnered with Accenture and Ernst & Young.

She has also embarked on a sustainability reporting, assurance, as well as strategy development under the consulting arm of her firm, CSR-in-Action.

Bekeme is a certified trainer of the world globally renowned GRI G4 sustainability reporting and a certified trainer having undergone the “Train the Trainer” programme. Bekeme is Chairman of the Board of Passion House, and is on the Board of Waste Recycling Community of Nigeria.

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CEO Corner

Pineapple TV: Delivering Positive Impact And Instilling African Culture – Carl Raccah

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Carl Raccah is the Managing Director of Pineapple TV and has been firmly embedded in various disciplines in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry since 1996. He is a Creative Industry Professional with vast experience both internationally and locally. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, He talked about the inspiration behind Pineapple TV and his journey into the entertainment, media and production industry in Nigeria and Africa. Excerpts.

Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about yourself and journey into media and production in Africa?

Carl: I have been involved in the creative industries since I left school, though initially as a singer, songwriter, and performer. In the mid 80’s I worked with the two-time Grammy Award winner, the late Nigel Gray, at his legendary Surrey Sound Studios. Older readers may remember his work with The Police, Godley & Crème, Paul Brady, and a host of others. The engineer for my projects, who is still a good friend of mine, was Jim Ebdon; he’s now the live sound engineer for the artist Sam Smith.

In the 90’s, I had the amazing privilege of working with the musical genius and Grammy Award winner David Hentschel who produced, engineered and arranged works for Genesis, The Yellow Jackets, Elton John, Missy Elliot, L.L. Cool J, and the list goes on. I was born in Kano, Nigeria but went to school and lived in England until I came back to Nigeria in 1995. One of the first gentlemen I met was Mr. Jimi Awosika who was then the Creative Director at Insight Communication. He, very kindly, based on my music background, started giving me jobs for some of their clients. I worked on the music for the Pepsi Big Blue Campaign, I composed jingles for UBA featuring Daddy Fresh and I created the theme music for the original series of The Ultimate Search. I was also the Music Director for The X-Factor here in Nigeria.

This, and the revelation that Nigeria had a largely untapped popular music scene, made me interested in staying in the country and working alongside some of those artists. I mention this only to highlight that I was firmly embedded in music; I didn’t think I would ever be involved in producing television content let alone co-own a TV Channel. I always mention that the inspiration for the TV Channel came about when I noticed my son watching, learning and absorbing information from the shows on CBBC and Disney Junior. This made me wonder if there was content available that would resonate more with the African Child, content that they could identify with. This was ten or so years ago, and I was amazed that there had been nothing since the NTA show, ‘Tales by Moonlight.’ I understood then that there was a space, so that’s how the idea for Pineapple TV came about.

Alaba: Kindly tell us about Pineapple TV, the inspiration and who is your target market?

Carl: Pineapple TV started with a focus on a target market of children from the ages of 4 to 16. After about 3 months of broadcast however, we started getting feedback from parents and grandparents saying that they were enjoying the channel and were watching alongside the children. Then we noticed teenagers outside of our target responding also; those of the 17 to 20 something age group. We have now shifted our content production and acquisition to include shows for the family while ensuring that Pineapple TV continues to be a safe viewing space.

Alaba: How is your brand unique and what kind of content are you creating to entertain African families in the continent and in Diaspora?

Carl: I believe we are the only channel on the African Continent broadcasting Africa for Africa family content. By that I mean, 95% of our shows must be produced or licenced on the African Continent fulfilling our mandate of invigorating this sector of the Creative Industry while providing quality content that resonates with our audience, which is the African Family. The remaining 5% allows us to partner with content producers elsewhere on projects that will impact our audience. At this time, most of the shows we have produced are made in Nigeria, and I don’t see this changing. I have seen that in Nigeria we have the producers, directors, and crew who, given the opportunity, can deliver content to an international broadcast standard. They are dedicated, professional and passionate.

Carl Raccah and His Team (Imagecredit:PineappleTV)

We are currently developing a Pineapple TV Mobile App. When this is available our content will be available to families in Diaspora and the rest of the continent. We are in discussion with various broadcast platforms who have indicated an interest in licencing the channel to other parts of the world. I’m pleased to say the importance of the Pineapple TV initiative and concept is beginning to be understood.

Alaba: Can you share your major challenge and how are you navigating through this dire time?

Carl: As a new channel, there are a few challenges that we had to overcome. The most difficult is convincing a broadcast platform to understand what your channel offering is. I was very lucky in that I was given an opportunity to present the Pineapple TV concept to The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who understood fully what I was trying to achieve and actually said and I quote, “Carl… You are preaching to the converted.” He kindly asked Mr. Segun Adeyemi to oversee the progress of the project. Mr. Adeyemi in turn introduced me to the COO of Startimes. Mr. Tunde Aina and that is how we are now on Startimes Channel 129. These three gentlemen have played a significant part in our progress and I am grateful to them.

Alaba: What is your leadership style and philosophy?

Carl: That’s an interesting question but perhaps better answered by those in the Pineapple TV team. I do think that in a creative space however, one should have defined parameters, so procedures, reporting and work flows are adhered to, but at the same time ensuring the office space is friendly so that creativity can flow. I like to encourage the whole team to suggest creative ideas no matter how out-of-the-box they may seem and no matter what position you hold in the business; I have an open door policy and I ask the executives and heads of departments to offer the same; we’ve had some exciting content concepts come to fruition in this way.

Alaba: Which is more important, data or content to the future of marketing?

Carl: In my opinion it’s always going to be content. Consumer’s won’t spend their hard-earned money on data if the content isn’t appealing… I am of the mindset that, as consumers are able to access content via ever more varied and available platforms, that what they want to access becomes even more important. So, whether its an advert, a series, a film or a song, it better be fantastic! As the saying goes, ‘Content Is King’ and I believe this is hugely relevant now.

Alaba: How do you see the convergence of digital and TV play out?

Carl: In Africa, for the foreseeable future, I think both will share the same arena. Data is still quite expensive, and coverage is not available everywhere, or all the time. I am looking forward to when the country flips fully to DTT. That will give a great option for consumers and producers alike.

Alaba: How does your organization measure its impact and what is the future for Pineapple TV?

Carl: Pineapple TV is here to stay. We will continue to invest in our area of the Creative Industry to ensure Nigerian talent across the whole process of our production needs is supported and invigorated. By that I mean the various women and men who are actors, producers, scriptwriters, film crew and content producers.

Carl Raccah and His Team (Image credit: Pineapple TV)

We will also broaden our content appeal to ensure that Pineapple TV is the channel that African Families tune in to for safe viewing, educational, inspiring and entertaining programming. We measure our impact by the positive feedback from our partners.

Alaba: What would be your advice to aspiring media entrepreneurs and investors in Nigeria and rest of the region?

Carl: Pineapple TV took me over 10 years to get going from concept to first broadcast. I experienced many hurdles on the way. So, the most important advice I would give to aspiring media entrepreneurs is to understand from the onset that it will not be easy, you must be ready to persevere. It helps if you are passionate about what you are trying to achieve, because if you’re not, it may be difficult to endure, figuratively speaking, the bumps and bruises you will undoubtedly receive on the way to fulfilling your ambition.

Also, it’s important to note that the creative sector is a business just like any other, and that it’s vital that whatever your discipline within the industry is, it is approached with the same tenacity as other entrepreneurs apply to other sectors. As far as investors are concerned, because the Nigerian Creative Sector is exciting and vibrant at every level, it has many years of potential growth ahead of it. Whether investing in studios, concert venues, equipment rental, movies, make up outfits, fashion design, book publishing and all the other areas that make up the creative industries, there is room for dedicated professional well managed entities in every area.

Alaba: How do you relax and what is your favourite tourist destination in Africa?

Carl: At the moment, I don’t have too much time to relax, but that’s fine by me. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to see 10 years of hard work trying to get this project off the ground actually moving now. Of course there are challenges, but every challenge resolved is a step forward. That’s a more relaxing place to be than wondering if the concept might ever get off the ground. For me and my co-directors, Heitham, Ali and Hadi Safieddine and for our Chairman, Mr. Francis Ogboro, The Pineapple TV project has become vocational.

We all fully understand the impact that our programming is having in inspiring culture and pride in all that is Nigerian and indeed African. We are happy to be playing a small but important part of Nation Building. As for my favourite tourist destination in Africa, that has to be Kano. I was born there, so whenever I go back, I’m filled with nostalgia and many amazing memories. When I visit Kano I feel I’m home.

Also Read Zahara Chetty: Equipping The Next Generation With 21st Century FutureSkills

P R O F I L E

Carl Raccah has been firmly embedded in various disciplines in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry since 1996. He is a Creative Industry Professional with vast experience both internationally and locally. As a musician he composed the jingles for many successful advertising campaigns and the theme tunes for The Gulder Ultimate Search Reality Show and ‘Diamond In The Sky’ for Diamond Bank.

As a producer he recorded successful albums for Yinka Davies, Ashionye, Daddy Fresh, Fadabasi and others. As a Production/Technical Manager, Carl has worked on some of the most ground-breaking live events in Nigeria such as Yello Fest, Star Trek, Star Mega Jam, The Tetmosol Girl Power Concert Tour and others. In conjunction with Sonic Spaza South Africa, he negotiated (licenced) the selected works of Ruggedman and Styl-Plus for use on the Nokia Express Music Phone and negotiated the works of various Nigerian artists, ‘The Nigerian Selection’ for use by Virgin Atlantic Airways as part of their in-flight entertainment bouquet. Carl Raccah is the Managing Director of Pineapple TV.

Visit: Pineapple TV

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CEO Corner

Ava Airways CEO Olivier Arrindell On Envisioning An Airline Of The Future And Connecting Africa With The Caribbean

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Ava Airways CEO Olivier Arrindell is an experienced professional, business acumen and became one of the youngest members of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry with ongoing success in Latina America, Central America, North America, and the Caribbean. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, He talks about the Ava Airways brand, his mission to connect Africa with Caribbean and role as the new CEO. Excerpts.

Alaba: Kindly tell us about Ava Airways and the gap its fill?

Olivier: With Ava Airways, we didn’t want to just envision a bunch of loosely connected potential innovations. Instead, our goal was to create a cohesive concept for the future airline. To do this, we organized all of our design innovations around three core principles: “Taking Crazy Out of Flying”- making Ava Airways actually worthy of passenger affection; “Know the Journey”- designing touch points that are tailored to the unique moments comprising a passenger’s journey with Ava Airways; and, “Membership Matters”- creating a business model that goes beyond fare-based transactions.

Ava Airways is an Airline carrier of the Dominican Republic with a clear plan and vision to properly connect and operate scheduled flights via its Hub in this city of Santo Domingo, to the Caribbean,  Latin America and Africa. The Service Ava Airways plans to provide would allow Latin American and Caribbean enraptures and corporations to properly connect with each other in commerce and trade specially in the tourism sector

Alaba: As its new Chief Executive, what are your set milestones in terms of growth and impact?

Olivier: In this role, I am responsible and accountable to the Board of Directors for carrying out my duties and my number one goal is to properly connect Africa with the Americas and the Americas with each other.  Being the CEO of an airline is not the kind of job that someone just slips into. Typically, these airline big wigs worked their way up the corporate ranks. In some cases, they’ve been recruited from similar positions in other industries.

Historically, most airline CEOs have spent a considerable amount of time in some type of management structure. I did not have that kind of road map.  I was appointed CEO of Ava Airways because of my row core entrepreneurial spirit.  Entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset. It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.“It’s about seeing the big picture and thinking like there is no tomorrow,”

“To me, being of African descendant, that’s the spirit I live by and is the way of  approaching situations where you feel empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into your own hands, “Like connecting Africa with the Caribbean”. 

Olivier Arrindell

Companies that nurture an entrepreneurial spirit within their organization encourage their employees to not only see problems, solutions and opportunities, but to come up with ideas to do something about them.” Entrepreneurial CEO’s like myself tend to have a more innovative approach to thinking about their products or services, new directions to take the company in, or new ways of doing old tasks.

Alaba: One of your major priorities at Ava Airways is to connect Africa with the Caribbean and Latin America. What sparked the interest and why now?

Olivier: the second largest African population in the world is Brazil, The USA, Then Spanish Specking Americas, then we have the Caribbean.  Why now you ask?  Because now its our TIME !

Alaba: Could you tell us more about your Africa destination strategy with emphasis on your unique offerings?

Olivier: This is a technical question hahaha, for the simple reason I cannot provide key secrets to our strategy and game plan. Keep a close eye on Ava Airways and see the strategy manifest itself.  

Alaba: How is the current global pandemic affecting your operations and how are you navigating the challenges in these dire times?

Olivier: To be frank we have been given a gift from the higher powers,  because just in time for the launching of Ava Airways here comes Ms. Corona Virus with her attitude, so we have escape all of the issues that others are currently facing and I am great to the gift.

Alaba: What are the safety measures and assurance you have incorporated in your operations? Are you Post COVID-19 prepared?

Olivier: YES, we are.  Ava Airways Director of SQS and the rest of the team shall implement all of the recommendation that is provided by IATA and Local Authorities.

Alaba: How would you describe the state of aviation in Africa and where do you see the industry in 5 years?

Olivier: I believe I am not the correct person to answer this question at this time, however  I do see the state of Aviation in Africa as one of the same kind you are seeing today with the movement of people from Africa to Europe and North America to the movement of people from Africa to the Caribbean and Latin America.

Alaba: What is the future for Ava Airways in terms of its size, products and impact?

Olivier: I believe Ava Airways future is bright and you will be around to see what kind of product and impact we shall have on the industry.

Olivier Arrindell with Ava Airways Celebrity Brand Ambassadors

Alaba: What is your leadership style and philosophy? 

Olivier: Simple, Entrepreneurial Spirit. My fundamental believe is, if you want to make people happy sell ice cream!

Alaba: Your message to the industry and the critical stakeholders who depends on it for survival?

Olivier: Financial disciple and change the way you think.

Also Read: Serah Odende, co-founder of African Harvesters Talks Entrepreneurship and Her Initiative Ag4SDGs

B I O G R A P H Y

Olivier Arrindell was the Managing Director of Financial Planning, Investor Relations, & Corporate Planning for Grace Aviation Holdings, LLC, and in December of 2019 was appointed as the CEO of Ava Airways by it’s Board of Directors. In this role, he is responsible and accountable to the Board of Directors for carrying out his duties and possesses a demonstrated track record in interacting with a policy board. Mr. Arrimdell plans, coordinates, directs, and is responsible for all activities associated with the operation of Ava Airways and it’s related economic development activities.

During his career, Mr. Arrindell has been instrumental in several initiatives including the development of Antigua & Barbuda’s new International Airport and many others, in addition, he has led the communications efforts around Grace Aviation’s company’s investment negotiation with investment partners and debt offerings. Most recently, he played a key role in the development and communication of Ava Airways balanced capital deployment strategy plan for its commercial airline plans which have resulted in favorable terms and conditions through a dividend principle policy.

Prior to joining Ava Airways and leveraging his professional experience and business acumen, Mr. Arrindell became one of the youngest members of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.

Mr. Arrindell’s ongoing success in Latina America, Central America, North America, and the Caribbean has been facilitated by his knowledge of financial management, Strategic Alliances, airline/aviation strategist, and a track record of successfully pulling together exceptional teams and business partners. 

Ava Airways 

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CEO Corner

African Infrastructure Investment Managers appoints Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson as new co-CEOs

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African Infrastructure Investment Managers new co-CEOs, Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson (Source: AIIM Africa)

London and Cape Town, 3 August 2020: African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments and Africa’s most experienced infrastructure manager, has appointed two joint-managing directors to be based in Cape Town and Lagos, following the retirement of the company’s previous CEO.

Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson, have been appointed from within the business, and will continue to sit in their South Africa and Nigeria offices respectively, as two of AIIM’s key markets in sub-Saharan Africa. As AIIM’s new joint-MD’s, they take over from Jurie Swart, who has been CEO of AIIM since 2014 and recently elected to take early retirement to focus on a new challenge outside the AIIM business.  

Also Read: Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future

Commenting on the new roles, Paul Boynton, non-executive chairman of the Board at AIIM said: “Vuyo and Sola have both been integral members of the AIIM team for many years and bring with them extensive and varied investment experience and leadership skills. On behalf of the entire Board, I am looking forward to working even closer with them in their new joint-MD roles as the business continues to expand and move forward.”  

Vuyo Ntoi said, “I am very excited to step into this new joint role, continuing to work with Sola and the Exco team to drive the strategy that we have had in place, which has and continues to deliver excellent outcomes for our investors and stakeholders.”

Sola Lawson added, “I am honoured to take on the role of joint-MD of AIIM and look forward to working closely with Vuyo and the wider team to continue to build on the strong foundations developed throughout Jurie’s time as CEO and to help progress AIIM’s strategic journey.”

Vuyo Ntoi has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM for over a decade and is the co-portfolio manager of AIIM’s IDEAS Managed Fund, one of South Africa’s largest domestic infrastructure equity funds. He was also involved in the initial roll out of the business across the continent and has led and participated in high profile and pioneering projects in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali.

Sola Lawson joined AIIM in 2011, founding the Nigeria office, AIIM’s first permanent establishment in Africa outside of South Africa. He has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM since joining and is a member of the IDEAS investment committee. Sola has played a leading role in originating, executing and managing c. USD500 million of AIIM-managed fund investments across Africa, serving on the board of directors of several AIIM portfolio companies within the digital infrastructure, power or renewables and midstream sectors. Prior to joining AIIM, Sola was a member of the infrastructure funds team at Macquarie Group, and prior to that worked at PwC London.

Issued by: AIIM Africa

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