10 Years of AFRIKA KOMMT! Interview with Prof. Dr. Grosse 

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10 Years of AFRIKA KOMMT!

AFRIKA KOMMT! (AFRICA RISING!) connects German companies and future senior managers from Sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of establishing sustainable and long-term business contacts.

Why has B. Braun been committed to the program since 2012?

B. Braun has been active in Africa for more than 60 years and exports medical products to nearly every country on the continent. The entire region has great potential and local developments come with many opportunities – including for B. Braun. As a family-owned company, for us, economic engagement means always accepting responsibility and providing perspectives. This also includes in-house training of our nurses, care providers and technicians – in line with our philosophy of Sharing Expertise. Or, as part of AFRIKA KOMMT! we are giving young and talented future senior managers from Sub-Saharan Africa the opportunity to expand their expertise at B. Braun in Melsungen and then to bring it back to their homeland. The initiative, which is being implemented by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), supports our long-term growth of business in Africa. AFRIKA KOMMT! is therefore a win-win situation for participants and companies.

 

What have been the effects of participation in the program thus far? 

We are very satisfied with how the program has gone so far. From a total of X participants, we have had five in 2017 alone who supported us during their eight-month internship at the corporate headquarters in Melsungen. All of them subsequently received a position at B. Braun and will work at various locations in Africa in the future. Two additional participants have been with us in Melsungen since November 2017, now the fourth AFRIKA KOMMT! class year. As you can see, the program has already established a certain tradition at our company.

I also find it particularly positive that the participants not only benefit from their newly acquired expertise, but also become internationally sought-after employees due to the linguistic and intercultural skills they acquire. In addition to their African homeland, they are now also familiar with the processes at our corporate headquarters in Melsungen. This knowledge in particular is of great value to us as a company, and forms the basis for a long-term, successful collaboration.

B. Braun has been active in Africa for more than 60 years. How have the company's business dealings developed on the continent over that time period?

B. Braun attempted very early to stay abreast of the complexity of the continent and worked with local partners in a majority of the markets. We now have our own structures, with a total of 780 employees in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Algeria and Kenya. We currently earn about 100 mil. EUR of revenue in Africa, representing about 1.5 percent of our corporate turnover. Particularly with the founding of our national subsidiary in Kenya in 2014, we have created an anchor that will support the expansion of B. Braun's activities in the entire East African region. The goal is to establish a permanent network for the entire region south of the Sahara.

To name a few success stories from recent years: in 2016, we were able to acquire two production facilities for hand disinfectant and infusion solutions in South Africa. Our provider and product business in the field of dialysis is also running well, however: we currently distribute consumable materials in Africa equivalent to an annual supply for 9,000-10,000 dialysis patients.

German family-owned businesses are often associated with sustainability, a long-term character, social engagement, as well as flexibility and pragmatism. How has B. Braun made use of these characteristics here? 

As a family-owned business, sustainability and social activity are part of the cultural values we live out around the world. In addition, when considering Africa, it is important for us to create long-term perspectives and to develop markets and people. The aim is to bring jobs, added value and especially the entire value-added chain to the continent. B. Braun relies on local partnerships and on the training and continuing education of specialists. As Chairman of SAFRI, I am of course also concerned with more German companies driving the expansion of added value, here even more intensively. We can introduce not only our technology, but also our organizational expertise and experience in establishing complex, internationally competitive structures. This is especially important considering the demographic development of the continent – approx. 2.4 billion people will live in Africa in 2050, an anticipated 25% of the world's population – a great opportunity for us German companies.

You are also training nurses, care providers and technicians in Africa. What experiences have you collected here in past years? 

Africa is continually described as a continent of opportunity, but as a company, we naturally also face challenges. Besides political instability in some countries, sometimes opaque practices in awarding bids or a lack of infrastructure, there is also a shortage of healthcare specialists. We are responding to this by training nurses, care providers and technicians in particular on our products in the field of dialysis. Over the last three years, we trained nearly 1,000 dialysis providers and dialysis technicians, excluding South Africa. We also focus on continuous training and continuing education of local partners, such as service technicians and sales personnel. The often addressed topic of lack of education is not a problem for B. Braun, because we recruit our local employees almost exclusively from the clinical environment. That is also demonstrated by the search for suitable employees. Here, on the one hand we are supported by our local partners; on the other hand, our sales employees themselves continually observe the respective markets and identify these candidates. It is a commitment that will pay off because Africa is becoming an increasingly important market for us.

 

GIZ

As a provider of international cooperation services for sustainable development and international education work, GIZ is dedicated to building a future worth living around the world. The organization has over 50 years of experience in a wide variety of areas, including economic development and employment, energy and the environment, and peace and security. The registered offices of the non-profit organization GIZ are in Bonn and Eschborn. In 2016 the business volume was around EUR 2.4 billion. Of 19,506 employees in some 120 countries, almost 70 per cent are national personnel working in the field. In the capacity as a recognized sending organisation, GIZ currently have 643 development workers in action in partner countries.