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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 Bank Appoints Kennedy Bungane, CEO

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African Bank New CEO, Kennedy Bungane (Press Release & Image: African Bank)

African Bank (“Board”) announces the appointment of Mr. Kennedy Bungane as the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and as an executive director of the Bank and its holding company, African Bank Holdings Limited (“ABH”) effective 14 April 2021. The Bank confirms that the appointment of Kennedy was done in accordance with African Bank’s policy on the selection and nomination of executive directors, and in order to fill a vacancy as well as add to the skillset on the Board.

Kennedy brings over 20 years of banking experience with him, having started his career at Standard Bank in 1991, holding a number of senior positions, including Head of Global Markets Sales, Head of Institutional and Corporate Banking, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking for Standard Bank South Africa, and a member of the Standard Bank Group Executive Committee. After joining Barclays Africa in 2012 as Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Limited and Head of Absa Group strategy, Kennedy led the sale of Barclays Africa Limited to the ABSA Group. More recently, Kennedy headed up the Phembani Group as its CEO. He also brings investment and strategic experience gained as the founder and chairman of Nokeng Telecoms and chairman of Idwala Capital.

Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a Master of Business Administration, and completed the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School (USA).

Commenting on Kennedy’s appointment, the Chairman of the Board, Thabo Dloti, stated, “We welcome the appointment of Kennedy as the new permanent CEO. Kennedy has a keen sense for managing complex stakeholder issues. He has a proven track record in identifying and nurturing leadership, which promotes strong teams to deliver successful results. His passion for the role that banking can play in transforming society resonated strongly with the Board.

As an experienced banker, he also critically has a good grasp of the strategic challenges facing the Bank, within a muted South African economy and competitive landscape, as well as the required regulatory and governance framework.

 

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African Visionary Fund (AVFund) Appoints New co-CEO, Atti Worku

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African Visionary Fund (AVFund) New co-CEO, Atti Worku (Source: African Visionary Fund Website)

About a year ago, African Visionary Fund launched with a bold mission to tackle the inequities and power imbalances in global philanthropy by driving unrestricted resources to African visionaries. At the heart of all they do their values of equity and solidarity, which compel them to center African voices at every level of the organization. They are thrilled to announce the Fund’s new Africa-based co-CEO, Atti Worku!

Atti brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit world, is a strong advocate for local founders, and is dedicated to righting the historic funding inequity that can hold them back. Prior to joining the Fund, Atti founded and led Seeds of Africa for over 10 years. Seeds is an Ethiopian grassroots organization dedicated to developing the educational foundation for the next generation of African leaders. Under her leadership, Seeds grew from an after-school program serving 15 kids to becoming a full-time multi-dimensional school educating 250 students from pre-K to middle school, and working with over 150 of their mothers providing small business entrepreneurship micro-loans and resources. In just over a decade Seeds has impacted the lives of over 2,000 people, transforming the trajectories of students, teachers, mothers, and their families and creating a future brimming with possibilities beyond a poverty trap.

“My mission is to advocate for African visionaries to be recognized by funders as experts, equal partners and critical drivers of systems change. I’m excited to learn from incredible African leaders with big dreams and even bigger global potential.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO

Why Co-leadership

The African Visionary Fund is built on the firm belief that proximity matters. Seeded by a group of foundations and philanthropists who wanted to not only take action on equity but also be intentional about shifting the power over resources to African visionaries, shared leadership has been part of the Fund’s DNA from the beginning.

“Co-leadership is mission critical. We cannot build new models for equity-centered philanthropy without living those values within our own institution.” -Katie Bunten-Wamaru, AVFund co-CEO

The AVFund’s organizational journey started with collective and shared leadership in mind as our Founding Working Group worked with our leadership to inform and design all aspects of our organization and funding model. This majority-African, majority-doer group considered a number of different leadership structures for the Fund but gravitated towards co-leadership because it prioritizes proximity and equity, centers the experience of African visionaries, and ultimately helps us shift power.

Our Founding Working Group proved that we can co-create new models of philanthropy centered on collective leadership that shift power and center equity – our co-leadership model is the natural, values-aligned extension of that founding idea.

The Fund

Atti’s lived experience as an African founder has given her firsthand experience of the realities and complexities that local innovators face, making her a great partner in executing the Fund’s mission.

“This role is very personal to me. I see myself in the ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs we engage with at the AVFund. I hope to learn from them, and partner with them to redesign funding systems that give African visionaries an equitable chance of success.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO

The barriers for African visionaries have been well documented with data showing that less than 5.2% of US foundation giving specific to Africa goes to African-led organizations. And in Atti’s experience, sometimes philanthropy’s oversight of African founders translates into a heavy emotional toll, an internal struggle she also had to deal with in her experience fundraising for her organization. She is committed to helping other African visionaries by being “the voice that reassures and validates them in the face of injustices.”

“Raising philanthropic dollars can be a long trauma for African social entrepreneurs and other leaders of color. On one hand, you’re doing innovative, high-impact work, but on the other, you are constantly being asked to prove yourself on a level far beyond your peers, doing so, and somehow still falling short. Aggregate data on racial inequity in philanthropy already speaks volumes, but systemic injustice is deeply personal. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the problem,” Atti shared.

On Co-leadership

At the core, the AVFund seeks to create a bridge between global philanthropy and innovative African social changemakers and to do that, it’s critical to have proximity to both our visionary partners and our funding partners. Shared leadership makes this possible.

“There is an inherent tension in the work of the AVFund – we call it the ‘play the game, change the game’ balance. We want to support African social changemakers to play the game to access more sustainable funding now, while also challenging the status quo in ways that build a more equitable philanthropic ecosystem in the long run,” Katie explained. “There will always be a need to balance this tension – having a co-leadership model helps us balance both sides of our work and not lose sight of either goal.”

Having been on both sides of the table, Atti believes a further added benefit of co-leadership lies in the fact that representation matters. “I have been a micro-funder through Seeds and have seen the value of someone like you believing in your vision and empowering it,” she shared.

“At AVFund, we celebrate and choose co-leadership because we recognize the importance of diversity for strong, grounded and authentic leadership.” -Melizsa Mugyenyi, Advisory Board Member.

The Future

Atti joins the Fund at a crucial season of our organizational journey as we look to deepen our impact across the continent – we are more than a third of the way towards reaching our goal to raise US$10 million which will enable us to provide 35 nonprofits across Africa with unrestricted, multiyear grants by 2023.

In the near-term, the Fund is also on track to commit atleast another $US1 million later this year and partner with more African social innovators. Atti is particularly excited to work with those at the forefront of leading-edge innovations whose potential for impact is inhibited by lack of resources and buy-in from funders.

“African visionaries aren’t often given the resources they need to validate the new concepts they have which really makes innovation very difficult. A lack of unrestricted funding for the disruptive ideas coming out of Africa limits potential and slows development. I’m ready to help change that in every way we can!” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO

Source AVFund

 

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Rolake Rosiji, ex-Country Manager M-KOPA Solar Appointed As The New CEO Of Jobberman Nigeria

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Rolake Rosiji, CEO at Jobberman (Source: ROAM)

Jobberman, the single largest job placement platform in sub-Saharan Africa, has announced the appointment of Rolake Rosiji as the new CEO. Rolake takes over from Hilda Kragha, now Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs, and will continue the work of establishing Jobberman as the primary platform for job searching, talent acquisition and transforming workplace productivity across Nigeria.

Jobberman’s technology-driven platform, which uses tools such as application tracking, data science for skills and personality assessment, connects over 1 million job seekers to employers. With over a decade of experience in the recruitment industry, the company has built a reputation of trust and strong partnerships with the country’s most coveted employers; matching talented candidates with jobs according to their skillset.

Rolake joins Jobberman with a decade of global experience in strategic leadership and operational excellence. Most recently, she led the technology and sales operations for credit financed smartphones and solar power sets as Country Manager of M-KOPA Nigeria; a connected asset financing company that makes financing for everyday essentials accessible to everyone. Prior to that, she was Head of Strategy & Business Development for Arla Foods Africa, where she developed distribution and joint venture partnerships across West Africa to rapidly scale up sales and worked in Corporate Strategy roles in Denmark and the USA. Her proven track record of business expansion projects, digital and technical transformation and executing strategic partnerships will be key to her implementation for growth and development of the brand.

Commenting on her new role as CEO, Rolake Rosiji said “This is a very exciting chapter in my career and I am delighted to be joining such a passionate and innovative team. Jobberman has built a brand of excellence by using technology to revolutionise the recruitment sector. I look forward to steering the company vision to build a market of greater technology adoption, democratic access and transparency that will tackle dominant challenges, notably youth unemployment and underemployment.  It is a privilege for me to be at the helm of this dynamic team as we set out to empower job seekers with key skills and improve workplace productivity for employers in Nigeria.”

Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs added “I am delighted that Rolake has taken on this position. Rolake’s expertise, understanding of different markets and high performance is what makes her the perfect person to anchor the next phase for Jobberman. I look forward to working with her to take Jobberman to even greater heights.”

Rolake took on her role as CEO on February 1st 2021. Her focus will be to broaden the impact beyond the white-collar space and continue to work closely with Jobberman’s impact partners in tackling youth unemployment in Nigeria.

ROAM

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