FT Insight December 2015

In this Issue Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister, Dr Samura Kamara discusses economic diplomacy & a vision of prosperity. We ask "Is a cashless SL really on the cards?" Crown Bakery’s Fadi Keserwani talks survival & success in Sierra Leone's tough business environment. And we interview one of Sierra Leone's newest change makers - Amara Kuyateh, Deputy DG of NASSIT. Plus read about Cordaid & the missing middle SMEs; Aspen’s prescription for healthy resilience and hear opinions from the sharp end - the incisive, decisive and concise.

In this Issue Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister, Dr Samura Kamara discusses economic diplomacy & a vision of prosperity. We ask "Is a cashless SL really on the cards?" Crown Bakery’s Fadi Keserwani talks survival & success in Sierra Leone's tough business environment. And we interview one of Sierra Leone's newest change makers - Amara Kuyateh, Deputy DG of NASSIT. Plus read about Cordaid & the missing middle SMEs; Aspen’s prescription for healthy resilience
and hear opinions from the sharp end - the incisive, decisive and concise.


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For Sierra Leone’s entrepreneurs, business<br />

people, policy makers and investors Le 55,000 / $10<br />

www.ftinsight.net<br />

In This Issue:<br />

Dr Samura Kamara on economic diplomacy<br />

& a vision of prosperity<br />

Is a cashless SL really on the cards?<br />

Need to know - Crown Bakery’s Fadi K talks<br />

survival & success<br />

The real Amara Kuyateh<br />

plus<br />

Cordaid & the missing middle SMEs<br />

Aspen’s prescription for healthy resilience<br />

Incisive, decisive, concise - opinions from<br />

the sharp end

Editor’s <strong>Insight</strong><br />

Welcome to the launch issue of <strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong>. Aimed at Sierra Leone’s existing and future business people, the<br />

magazine translates the initiative, creativity, vibrancy, sheer doggedness and drive for change that is at the<br />

heart of Sierra Leone’s business sector, into words. Our aim is to drive progress within Sierra Leone’s private<br />

sector by telling its story.<br />

We publish six times a year and our first issue takes economic and business resilience as its theme.<br />

Post the commodity price dive, post-Ebola and post one of the worst rainy seasons the country has<br />

experienced, we have a tough time ahead. <strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong> asks Dr Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs<br />

& international Cooperation, how the work of his ministry is contributing to building the country’s long<br />

term prospects.<br />

Sierra Leone is a country of entrepreneurs and the private sector is key to its sustainable economic<br />

growth. The Survive and Succeed section profiles an individual who has been tried and tested by<br />

some of the most difficult business conditions on the continent. With 25 years and over in business<br />

in Sierra Leone, Fadi Keserwani of Crown Bakery’s wisdom is a must-read for every up and coming<br />

entrepreneur. Resilience demands new ideas and inspiration. A bold and innovative solution to<br />

one of Sierra Leone’s toughest challenges – the health sector is emerging from Aspen Health.<br />

We highlight the company’s plans to contribute to our economy’s durability.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

3<br />

The MSME pages will be a regular staple, including advice, initiatives and case histories. Tech<br />

Talk will keep readers up to date with Sierra Leone’s technological developments, and this<br />

month Erik Holst-Roness, advisor to central banks, governments, financial institutions,<br />

and merchants across the globe, brings his extensive experience in alternative payment<br />

systems to look at the Switch from a cash economy in Sierra Leone to an electronic<br />

payments system.<br />

<strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong><br />

+44 771 722 1023<br />

memunaforna@ftinsight.net<br />

Our magazine has a social purpose. Globally youth are 1.6 times more likely to want<br />

to start a business than adults. We hope to address the entrepreneurial instincts<br />

of Sierra Leone’s rapidly expanding youth population, by providing free access to<br />

the digital version of the publication to registered users. Find us online at www.<br />

ftinsight.net . Your voice matters. At the Sharp End canvases readers’ opinions<br />

on a business issue of interest and in the future, we look forward to publishing<br />

your letters to the editor. We hope you enjoy the magazine and look forward<br />

to hearing your suggestions, comments, feedback and feature ideas. See you<br />

again in February.<br />

Editor:<br />

Memuna Forna<br />

Art Director:<br />

Erika Perez-Leon<br />

Contributing Editors:<br />

Edleen B Elba<br />

Amadu Massally<br />

Erik Holst Roness<br />

Sharron Kelliher<br />

Advertising Enquiries:<br />

memunaforna@ftinsight.net<br />

+44 771 7221023 / +232 79953382<br />


<strong>Insight</strong>ful<br />


HERE<br />

Afrigas<br />

38 Spur Road, Freetown | Tel: +232 77 399399 | Website: www.swissspirithotels.com/freetown<br />

Typically, micro-enterprises are def ined as<br />

enterprises with up to ten employees, small<br />

enterprises as those that have ten to 100<br />

employees, and medium-sized enterprises as<br />

those with 100 to 250 employees.<br />

According to data from the World Bank Group Enterprise<br />

Surveys, access to finance tops the list of constraints faced by<br />

SMEs, with 16 per cent expressing it as their biggest obstacle<br />

across countries. Access to electricity ranks second, with 14 per<br />

cent of SMEs expressing it as their biggest obstacle; competition<br />

from the informal economy ranks third, at 12 per cent. Some<br />

42 per cent of all SMEs consider these three obstacles to be the<br />

most significant ones. Other important constraints of SMEs are<br />

tax rates, political instability, an inadequately educated workforce,<br />

corruption and disorder.<br />

Increasing the number of women in prof itable and sustainable<br />

businesses in Sierra Leone will generate huge social and<br />

economic benef its, strengthening both local communities and<br />

the country as a whole.<br />

Sevi Simavi, CEO, Cherie Blair Foundation<br />

“Contribute to one woman’s success and she will help<br />

many others.” – Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation<br />

At this year’s Trust Women Conference in London, Cherie spoke about tackling<br />

gender inequality in the economy and fostering women leaders. She was<br />

joined by Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN foundation, Jane Moran, Global Chief<br />

Information Officer of Unilever and Isha Johansen, President of the Sierra<br />

Leonean Football Association.<br />

More than 17 million formal<br />

SMEs in developing countries<br />

have unmet f inance needs.<br />

Small and medium-sized<br />

enterprises make crucial<br />

contributions to job creation<br />

and income generation; they<br />

account for two-thirds of all<br />

jobs worldwide.<br />

In sub-Saharan Africa, 22 per<br />

cent of enterprises of all size<br />

classes stated that access to<br />

electricity was their biggest<br />

obstacle.<br />

Women start businesses<br />

at a faster rate than men<br />

thereby contributing to<br />

economic growth.<br />

On the Transparency<br />

International Corruption<br />

Perceptions Index (2014),<br />

Sierra Leone ranks:<br />

119/175<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

5<br />

38 Spur Road, Freetown | Tel: +232 77 399399 | www.swissspirithotels.com/freetown<br />

In terms of enterprise performance, there is no gender gap with regard to enterprise survival<br />

or employment creation. Men and women owned sole-proprietor enterprises have similar<br />

survival rates and make similar contributions to job creation in the first three years after startup.<br />

However, there is a large difference in the size of the operations as measured by sales or value<br />

added. The average turnover of enterprises owned by women is only a fraction of those owned<br />

by men.<br />


2016 RANK<br />

147<br />


<strong>2015</strong> RANK<br />

147<br />


0<br />

Previous research using the World<br />

Bank Group Entrepreneurship Database<br />

has shown a signif icant relationship<br />

between the level of cost, time and<br />

procedures required to start a business<br />

and new f irm registration.<br />

As of <strong>December</strong> 2013, internet<br />

users in Sierra Leone stood at<br />

97,643, or 1.7<br />


Change Maker<br />

Dr Samura Kamara on<br />

change and prosperity<br />

By Memuna Forna<br />

“We need to introduce a<br />

culture of accepting change in<br />

Sierra Leone. We need to build<br />

patriotism and national pride<br />

and create attitudinal change<br />

throughout society. These are<br />

the missing threads in taking<br />

Sierra Leone to prosperity.”<br />

I caught up with Dr Samura Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in<br />

London, the morning after his return from the India-Africa Summit in New Delhi. He was heading to Malta to join<br />

over 50 leaders from Africa and the European Union for a two-day summit to explore solutions to the burgeoning<br />

migration and refugee crisis.<br />

Dr Kamara has been a pivotal figure in the present administration of His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma since<br />

its inception. Throughout, he has been consistent in his forward-looking agenda for Sierra Leone’s economic<br />

development. He began work on the Agenda for Change, while he was Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone,<br />

completing and implementing it as Minister of Finance and Economic Development. His appointment as Foreign<br />

Minister brought a much needed economic dimension to Sierra Leone’s foreign policy. He then went on to lead the<br />

development of the ambitious Agenda for Prosperity, President Koroma’s strategy to take Sierra Leone to middle<br />

income status by 2035.<br />

We are meeting to discuss whether or not the Agenda for Prosperity is still relevant post-Ebola, and just how<br />

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fits in to its implementation. Dr Kamara remains optimistic. “The targets that we<br />

set in the Post Ebola Recovery Strategy– health, education, social protection, economic revival and the private<br />

sector – remain the same as in the Agenda for Prosperity, but with a greater sense of urgency, partnership and<br />

inclusiveness. In every crisis, the biggest challenge is understanding, diagnosing and looking for opportunities and<br />

effective implementation. Crisis recovery creates opportunities. We now understand how to handle epidemics like<br />

Ebola and we can incorporate our improved understanding of the country’s needs into our ongoing strategy for its<br />

development,” he says.<br />

Dr Kamara’s approach to our economy has always been to highlight Sierra Leone’s strategic challenges and<br />

achievements, address the negatives and set high objectives, and he stresses that the road to economic resilience<br />

is through a series of building blocks, interlocked in an integrated and mutually reinforcing fashion: “A piecemeal<br />

approach is not the way to approach development. Every movement is incremental. Sierra Leone has made terrific<br />

progress in its post war recovery journey. Functional institutions, visionary leadership, and participatory governance<br />

mechanisms are key ingredients in our transformative journey. They underpin economic and social development<br />

by favouring long term investment, unlocking the potential for domestic resource mobilisation and unleashing<br />

entrepreneurial capacity.<br />

With their respective business and economic backgrounds, President Koroma and Dr Kamara were united in seeing<br />

the importance of marketing Sierra Leone as a destination for international business and investment, and Dr<br />

Kamara entered the Foreign Office with a presidential mandate to reconfigure it into a vehicle which would support<br />

the Agendas for Change and Prosperity.<br />

This has resulted in a comprehensive four-year strategy – the Sierra Leone Foreign Service Transformation Strategy<br />

2014-2018: Sierra Leone Foreign Service Renaissance in the 21st Century. A key aspect of this is ensuring that Sierra<br />

Leone’s international relations approach makes a priority of economic diplomacy.<br />

It is a subject Dr Kamara is vocal on, and earlier this year his Wall Street Journal opinion piece on developing<br />

Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola economy reiterated that point: “There is no question that West Africa has benefited<br />

from the help of international aid and the global donor community to help fight this deadly virus. But aid alone<br />

is not enough. The ability to treat and contain Ebola is inextricably linked to a country’s sustainable economic<br />

development. Achieving long-term success requires robust trade and investment. The private sector must be<br />

strong and the economy diversified,” he wrote.<br />

He is only too aware that potential investors still experience certain frustrations with our business climate, despite<br />

the significant strides made so far, as reflected in the Mo Ibrahim, Transparency International and World Bank’s<br />

Doing Business governance indices. He lists some of them - “energy, water, ICT, Human Resources, infrastructure.”<br />

He also believes that investors would appreciate more stability in government policy and regulations: “International<br />

investors believe we must demonstrate greater resolve in our own governance policy. We need policy consistency<br />

and respect for the agreements and contracts we enter into. Investors want to know party or stakeholder<br />

responsibilities; and what and when to expect policy shifts. There will, of necessity, be changes to our policies<br />

and business regulations but in order to create a more attractive business environment, foreign investors must be<br />

given a period of stability. For example, three to five yearly reviews should be written into initial contracts with<br />

major international investors, but they should be exempt from policy changes within that period, unless by mutual<br />

consultations and agreements. Locked-in investment capital needs predictable protection. When the business<br />

thrives – the economy will thrive.”<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

7<br />

“We initially addressed issues such as over-centralisation, poor public service delivery and distribution and weak<br />

transparency, accountability and overall economic governance. We created new vehicles for these as well as for<br />

improving internal revenue generation, public sector budgeting and spending, and consistency and collaboration<br />

across the board in the new institutions like the National Revenue Authority, National Public Procurement Authority,<br />

the National Commission for Privatisation, NASSIT, Local Government and Decentralisation Secretariat, and Public<br />

Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS). These are the software of the country, locked in a comprehensive system of<br />

public sector capacity building and financial management reforms. They are strengthened by a new framework of<br />

civil society oversight responsibilities as well as by President Koroma’s Presidential Task Force system in ensuring<br />

effective and prompt project execution. They were created to lay a solid foundation for re-establishing state<br />

authority and rebuilding national and international confidence and trust after the war, and were consistent with our<br />

resources at the time, directed mainly toward emergency and humanitarian assistance.<br />

Dr Kamara’s four-year strategy for the Foreign Service, puts the Ministry at the centre of foreign resource<br />

mobilisation and a better protector of the national interests. It makes his Ministry a crosscutting department which<br />

he says “is the eyes of the country. Every ministry has a foreign service component, which we as the Ministry<br />

should lead. We are working on rebuilding attitudes and moving forward with the right people - economists,<br />

lawyers and individuals with strong diplomacy skills - so that we can strengthen our presence internationally.<br />

We are rebranding the country and building a “truly national identity” in our national foreign service in terms of<br />

competency, ethnic and gender diversity.”<br />

Ultimately it all comes back to change. “We need to introduce a culture of accepting change in Sierra Leone. We<br />

need to build patriotism and national pride and create attitudinal change throughout society,” he says. “These are<br />

the missing threads in taking Sierra Leone to prosperity.”<br />

“Today we are addressing the hardware – road infrastructure, power, water supply, the health and education<br />

system. We are attending to both the drivers of economic growth and human development at the same time,<br />

while not forgetting the continuity required in pursuing the software. People don’t see the software, but they are<br />

the foundations of good governance and a progressive nation. They cut across the ‘who you know’ culture and are<br />

intended to create a good business culture by ensuring a more level playing field. Our economic resilience depends<br />

on them and an orderly and efficient mix with the hardware.”<br />

Where does all that start? According to Dr Kamara, it starts with education and he has his eye on using the foreign<br />

service to complement the effort of his colleague minister in encouraging international investment in education<br />

in Sierra Leone, with at least 1000 educational scholarships a year, properly equipped science laboratories with<br />

teachers trained in friendly countries like India, Malaysia, China, Kenya, South Africa, Cuba and Brazil through South-<br />

South cooperation; and promoting a computer laboratory in at least one senior secondary school per chiefdom.<br />

“You can’t sit and wait patiently for things to happen. You have to make them happen for yourself. This is President<br />

Koroma’s doctrine and we must practice it to the fullest. “<br />


Tech Talk<br />

Switching to electronic<br />

payments in Sierra Leone’s<br />

banking sector will<br />

transform our economy<br />

By Erik Holst-Roness<br />

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Sierra Leone’s civil war destroyed the national economy, introducing a period of<br />

sustained negative growth and leaving around 75-80% of the population living<br />

in extreme poverty. The period of reform and resourcefulness that followed the<br />

civil war changed that economic trajectory, as evidenced by record economic<br />

growth 1 in 2013 of 20.1% - considerably more than most of sub-Saharan Africa,<br />

if not the rest of the world. The Ebola crisis coinciding with the collapse of<br />

the price of iron ore during the same period, acted as an economic Tsunami,<br />

washing away the foundations of economic growth that had been built over<br />

the years after the war. It has sunk GDP growth into negative territory, with<br />

some reports estimating we can expect the economy to contract by between<br />

21.5% to 23.9% in <strong>2015</strong>.<br />

The Government has submitted a<br />

resilience-focused budget which<br />

stresses, amongst other measures, the<br />

need for private sector development<br />

to support economic recovery.<br />

However resilience is not just about<br />

springing back; it is about ensuring that the country uses the recovery<br />

process to “build a better mousetrap” 2 , which will encourage people<br />

and resources to return and invest in growth.<br />

Investor conf idence needs to be rebuilt<br />

in all areas from tourism to agriculture.<br />

Facilitating this necessitates that<br />

the government institute improved,<br />

streamlined, more transparent and more<br />

eff icient infrastructure, processes and<br />

procedures.<br />

Providing that improved infrastructure places an even greater pressure<br />

on the banking sector. Any incoming investment requires a robust,<br />

transparent and efficient financial system on which to sit and that is<br />

exactly what the government and the Governor of the Central Bank are<br />

planning to build.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

9<br />

What are the cornerstones of resilience for the banking sector in Sierra Leone?<br />

An openness to new technologies<br />

A determination to improve on the status quo<br />

A confidence in the country’s capacity to deliver<br />

A target of greater financial inclusion<br />

1 Forbes<br />

2 Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door is a phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson<br />


Tech Talk<br />

continued<br />

Tech Talk<br />

Our cash-based economy hinders the achievement of these objectives. In Sierra Leone without cash in your<br />

wallet you cannot buy fuel, groceries, eat out or even get medical attention in hospitals. Although cash<br />

economies are highly liquid and well understood, they also facilitate corruption and bribery simply because<br />

cash doesn’t leave any audit trail. For the individual as well as businesses cash is simply inefficient, costly and a<br />

security risk. For the government it creates much more serious issues like identity and reputation management,<br />

debt enforcement, credit scoring and access to financial products like insurance and even savings.<br />

Taking advantage of technology to fast track the development of a robust financial services infrastructure, the<br />

Bank of Sierra Leone will soon be supporting consumers and businesses in Sierra Leone with a National Financial<br />

Switch. This will connect all banks, ATMs, e-commerce and Point of Sale (POS) terminals throughout the country<br />

and drive the use of electronic payments on domestic and international fronts. Expected to be up and running<br />

before the end of 2016 the platform will embrace all sectors of the economy including employers, employees,<br />

merchants, banks, the government and its agencies.<br />

A National Financial Switch is probably one of the most important building blocks for growth as it will allow the<br />

implementation of a wide range of services around electronic payments – most of which are prerequisites for a<br />

stable environment for investment.<br />

Those who use cards to pay in other countries may be excused for thinking that paying by card, or online is<br />

nothing special, but it is a major step forward for Sierra Leone. A National Switch will create a unified financial<br />

network which will allow visitors and locals alike to pay by credit card in shops, restaurants, hotels and more<br />

widely; it will also allow local electronic transactions through a local debit card and this is where it gets<br />

interesting.<br />

This infrastructure will usher in an era of greater transparency and a significant reduction in fraud and corruption.<br />

Employers will be able to pay their staff electronically knowing that their employees will be able to use their<br />

cards in shops and ATM’s throughout the country. E-commerce will bring in the ability to develop new business<br />

services around home delivery and online ordering for B2B. It will also integrate locally based businesses into the<br />

international markets, allowing our business owners to make sales to anyone in the world. Mobile POS will allow<br />

for remote payments of electricity, water and other utility bills; all improving efficiency, all making for a better<br />

environment for growth and all reducing corruption. In short, the less cash is used or accepted, the more people<br />

are pulled into the formal, taxpaying economy. It cuts delays and corruption and increases revenue.<br />


Sierra Leone’s mobile phone use is escalating sharply and in its wake is a small but emerging mobile<br />

app economy. One of the most innovative is Luma, which applies smart phone technology to Sierra<br />

Leone’s street markets.<br />

Luma is the brain child of local business owner Bimbola Carrol. He developed and launched the app<br />

to encourage trade between individuals, and give them an easy way to generate cash by selling their<br />

unwanted or unused items. “A Luma is a sort of mobile local market, popular in the provinces. If a<br />

location is having a Luma, all the people in the surrounding towns and villages will bring items they<br />

have for sale,” he explains.<br />

In Q4 of 2012 the total number of mobile subscribers in Sierra Leone was approximately 3,504,000.<br />

By <strong>2015</strong>, the figure had increased by 30% to over 4,570,000 according to figures from GSMA<br />

Intelligence, making the mobile app market one that has significant potential for growth. Mobile apps<br />

aimed specifically at the Sierra Leonean user have focused mainly on mobile money or health – most<br />

noticeably to support the recent Ebola response. Carrol’s offering is something different. Targeted at<br />

18-45 smart phone users, he markets Luma via social media and using direct marketing. “Feedback<br />

has been positive, but it needs continuous marketing,” he says. “It’s a great idea, but tech penetration<br />

in Sierra Leone is still low. I imagine it will take about 24 months before it becomes a self-running<br />

operation.”<br />

For the moment listing on Luma is free, but in the future users will pay to list the items they have for<br />

sale. Luma sales reps would also list items on behalf of trade and take a commission in the event of a<br />

sale.<br />

Luma is currently only for Android mobile phones. Available for download on Google Play.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

11<br />

Taking it further, government payments will be able to be made electronically. Salaries, taxes, fees, social<br />

security deductions and payments can all be done electronically, improving efficiency, improving tax collections,<br />

reducing wastage and providing a solid anchor which both the local community and the incoming investment<br />

community can trust for their payments and therefore focus on their core business. E-payment systems also<br />

provide data and financial statistics which are crucial in making decisions regarding the economic development<br />

of Sierra Leone.<br />

And as the post-Ebola focus shifts back to the fundamentals of improving health services and education,<br />

electricity and water supply, and creating jobs, it is important to note that a secure, reliable and efficient means<br />

to pay for these goods and services will contribute to the success of many of these programmes.<br />

The move to put in place a National Switch is a milestone in<br />

the development of Sierra Leone. It demonstrates that the<br />

Sierra Leonean banking sector will be ready for business and<br />

playing a critical role in the resilience of the nation. It is a f irst<br />

and crucial step towards a “cashless” society, the foundation<br />

on which the country can grow commerce and reduce<br />

corruption; and it establishes a platform for secure payments<br />

in which local businesses, consumers and foreign investors<br />

can have conf idence.<br />


<strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong> Contributor<br />

Sierra Leone<br />

The Private Sector,<br />

Resiliency, and<br />

Healthcare in<br />

West Africa<br />

By Joshua C. Huminski,<br />

Deputy Director of<br />

Communications,<br />

Aspen Healthcare<br />

Aspen Medical Sierra Leone is Freetown’s leading private medical clinic, providing a full range of western standard medical<br />

services, care, and assistance. Located at the site of the former NACTIB New Life Hospital, AMSL is a fully licensed and certified<br />

General Practice Clinic operating exclusively for client members.<br />

On the 7th of November, the World Health Organisation declared Sierra Leone to be Ebola-free, having passed 42<br />

days (twice the incubation period for the virus) without another case. On the same day of the announcement,<br />

hundreds of Liberians took to the streets to run the third annual Monrovia Marathon – a race with special<br />

relevance this year as it commemorated those who lost their lives to Ebola.<br />

Capabilities<br />

• Comprehensive primary care services<br />

• Clinical expertise to initiate critical care and short term<br />

management of life threatening medical issues & trauma<br />

• Advanced Cardiac Life Support qualified staff<br />

• Evacuation of critical patients internationally for<br />

definitive care.<br />

• Appointment based consultations with internationally<br />

registered general practitioners & specialists.<br />

• Specialized equipment for diagnostic and critical care<br />

support, e.g. ultrasound, ECG, advanced life support<br />

equipment.<br />

Ground Ambulances<br />

• Emergency room & patient stabilization facilities with life<br />

support systems.<br />

• Observation/recovery room.<br />

• Minor surgical procedures<br />

• Pharmacy<br />

• In-house laboratory testing for hematology, serology,<br />

biochemistry and electrolytes<br />

• Pre-employment medical assessments, fit-for-task exams,<br />

occupational health exams and reports<br />

• Travel medicine<br />

Aero-Medical Evacuation<br />

These two geographically disparate events herald the ongoing and promising resurgence of West Africa in the<br />

wake of the vicious outbreak that claimed thousands. While the end of the disease is worth celebrating it is<br />

what lies on the horizon that is perhaps even more exciting – the recovery and growth of Sierra Leone and<br />

Liberia.<br />

With the end of the crisis those engines are gradually beginning to restart – international companies are<br />

returning along with their employees and capital and the lifeblood of the local economy is beginning to flow yet<br />

again. But what happens next? What happens in the event of another outbreak or some other natural disaster?<br />

That eventuality demands a resilient environment – a system that<br />

is able to withstand external shocks and continue to operate<br />

and function even under the most demanding of circumstances.<br />

Resiliency is more than just a plan in a three-ring binder resting on<br />

a shelf in a civil servant’s off ice; resiliency at its core is a cultural<br />

concept that permeates all aspects of civil, political, and economic<br />

life, and healthcare is a critical element.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

13<br />

• 24-hour emergency ambulance service with a 20km<br />

response radius<br />

• Fully equipped vehicle with emergency and life support<br />

capabilities<br />

• Staffed with healthcare providers trained to assist with<br />

any medical emergency<br />

• Internationally Registered and Experience Paramedic<br />

(EMT-P)<br />

• Internationally Registered and Experienced Doctor<br />

qualified in Advanced Trauma, Cardiac, and Pediatric<br />

Life Support (when necessary)<br />

• Licensed and Experienced Ambulance Driver<br />

Aspen Medical Sierra Leone is linked to Aspen’s broader<br />

aero-medical evacuation network operating out of Monrovia<br />

and servicing the West African region. Based on a B1900<br />

aircraft, Aspen Medical Sierra Leone coordinates, supports,<br />

and executes medical evacuations.<br />

Sadly, the world witnessed what happens when a healthcare system is not resilient and experiences an external<br />

systemic shock – the Ebola outbreak in West Africa quickly overwhelmed most local and national healthcare<br />

systems. Localised infection clusters rapidly became outbreaks as clinics and hospitals were unable to first<br />

recognise the disease, second contain it, and finally implement protocols to roll back the disease’s onslaught.<br />

It should be said that the Ebola Virus Disease and its sister viruses are a breed apart. An outbreak in any city,<br />

anywhere in the world would be a challenge to contain, but in West Africa – a region in which the healthcare<br />

infrastructure is under-resourced and underdeveloped – conditions were ripe for a rapid and expansive spread.<br />

How do we create a resilient healthcare system in West Africa? It is more than the application of plasters and<br />

paracetamol. It is a generational effort that requires the participation of the public and private sectors, business<br />

and government, non-governmental organisations and civil society.<br />

Want to know more?<br />

Today and most immediately, hospitals and clinics in Sierra Leone and Liberia need basic supplies – indeed<br />

personal protective equipment (PPE), had it been present in sufficient quantities may have staunched the early<br />

spread of Ebola.<br />


Aspen Medical Sierra Leone<br />

11A King Harman Rd, Bass St 3, Brookfields<br />

Freetown, Sierra Leone<br />

T +232 (0) 99500800<br />


www.aspenmedicalsierraleone.com<br />

Logistics networks that can sustain supply lines of pharmaceuticals (including cold chain drugs) need to be<br />

established that will link manufacturers in Europe and Asia with end users in Monrovia and Freetown. In the<br />


<strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong> Contributor<br />

continued<br />

longer term, local manufacturers need to be encouraged to develop through the provision of business loans and<br />

grants.<br />

Bio-medical maintenance programmes need to be established to ensure that basic and advanced medical<br />

equipment is properly maintained and preventive care implemented to ensure continued operation. What<br />

good is a diagnostic tool such as an x-ray or MRI if it is broken and missing a part? In this same vein, the<br />

aforementioned logistics network needs to ensure a sustained supply of spares to help the upkeep of these<br />

tools.<br />

Perhaps the most important and longest-term investment that can and should be made in Sierra Leone and<br />

Liberia’s healthcare infrastructure is in education and training. The critical shortage of trained healthcare workers<br />

speaks to the fundamental problem facing African governments in building resilient healthcare systems –<br />

insufficient numbers further stressed by the ‘brain drain’.<br />

Neither Liberia nor Sierra Leone differ from most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in that they have a huge pool<br />

of young people who place high value on education. Those who can afford tertiary education and go on to train<br />

in the medical professions are almost all highly skilled, so much so that they are in great demand elsewhere in<br />

the world.<br />

The future of these countries’ healthcare system is in its administrators, nurses, and doctors, and the associated<br />

workforce development programme. This is a long-term project that must start at the earliest levels of<br />

education and continue through to professional development. Identifying promising students early, channeling<br />

them into challenging and rewarding programmes, and providing incentives for them to return to or stay in their<br />

home countries will pay dividends for generations. Students who wish to study abroad in the United States or<br />

Europe should be incentivised to return home – loan or grant programmes should be offered that would cancel a<br />

student’s debt if they practise in Freetown or Monrovia.<br />

Doctors and nurses must also be incentivised to stay and work in Sierra Leone and Liberia not just through<br />

monetary compensation, but also robust support networks and opportunities for professional growth and<br />

development. Partnership programmes with universities in the United States and Europe should be expanded<br />

including critical exchange programmes. These will provide invaluable reciprocal training to students on both<br />

sides of the equation and develop lifelong networks that will enhance the medical practices of both countries.<br />

Successful healthcare systems around the world have proven that the key is quality human resources and that<br />

requires a successful business model able to pay for quality and to provide working conditions where modern<br />

healthcare science can be practised.<br />

Where does the private sector f it in to all of this? The role of<br />

business is central through direct and indirect means. Direct<br />

means include foreign investment, capital infusion, and business<br />

incubation. Opportunities are legion in West Africa for the<br />

development of domestic industry, manufacturing, and associated<br />

business support systems. The talent is there, the interest is there;<br />

all that is missing is that initial spark and application of proven<br />

business systems.<br />

Further, the development of a resilient healthcare system presents significant business opportunities in both<br />

sales and investment. Opportunities exist for the development of the aforementioned logistics networks, sales<br />

of basic and advanced medical equipment, consulting contracts for the establishment of effective administrative<br />

networks and many others.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

15<br />

Beyond money, business and the private sector can play a two fold role. First, foreign business entry requires<br />

certain levels of support such as healthcare. This demand generates a market opportunity, such as the one<br />

Aspen Medical presently fills. Thus, having started the cycle new business – seeing stable opportunities – seeks<br />

to start new operations or restart old activities that have fallen dormant.<br />

Second, the private sector can and indeed should play a mentorship role within the local community for both<br />

altruistic and business purposes. Helping the local community is a good in and of itself and should be undertaken<br />

by all companies. More importantly, by partnering with and supporting local businesses, foreign companies<br />

impart valuable best practices, knowledge, and additional opportunities.<br />

Aspen Medical is committed to both Sierra Leone and Liberia, having launched its first clinic in Monrovia and<br />

recently opened a second in Freetown. Our Liberia clinic operated throughout the duration of the Ebola crisis<br />

providing uninterrupted care for patients and coordinating and support services for the relief effort.<br />

Aspen Medical also operated several Ebola Treatment Units in both countries, working with foreign governments,<br />

the governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia, and non-governmental organisations. Our commitment to West<br />

Africa was recently demonstrated by the introduction of a twin-engine B1900C aircraft. This aircraft will provide<br />

general aviation and aero-medical evacuation services throughout West Africa.<br />

We are proud to be a part of the business community in Sierra Leone and Liberia and are very excited for what<br />

the future holds. We are already witnessing the first steps towards recovery and believe that growth and new<br />

opportunities will rapidly follow. Building resiliency will not happen overnight and it is not a one step process, but<br />

a process built on many incremental improvements, and we look forward to being a part of the resurgence of<br />

West Africa.<br />

Aspen Medical International is a leading provider of healthcare solutions in remote and challenging<br />

environments. Aspen provides clients in the public and private sectors enabling services, allowing them to focus<br />

on their core mission, confident that a proven and trusted partner stands ready to provide preventive health<br />

services and reactive assistance in the event of an emergency.<br />


Survive & Succeed<br />

Fadi Keserwani, Crown Bakery:<br />

“Relying on one product<br />

is not a bread winner!”<br />

When the phone rings and it’s a PA in the UK ordering a takeaway for his or her boss in Freetown; when your<br />

customers call from the USA to thank you for a great meal; when retirement looks uncertain because some of<br />

your customers won’t eat lunch anywhere else; and when you’ve survived 25 years in business in Sierra Leone,<br />

you know you have hit upon a very successful business model.<br />

But if proprietor - Fadi Keserwani is celebrating Crown Bakery’s Silver Jubilee, he’s keeping it quiet and it is<br />

business as usual in one of Freetown’s best-loved restaurants. Among the city’s professionals and expats, Crown<br />

Bakery is well known for quality food and service. In addition to an extensive menu of European, Sierra Leonean<br />

and Lebanese dishes, there is always a daily special chalked up on the board. Open Mondays to Saturdays, it is<br />

invariably busy at lunch time with eat-in customers and several people waiting to pick up takeaways. In Sierra<br />

Leone’s notoriously difficult business environment, Fadi Keserwani makes service with a smile look easy.<br />

But behind the scenes is a man who believes in very hard work and it takes six 11-hour days and infrequent<br />

holidays to serve up the restaurant’s commitment to service, good food and a warm welcome.<br />

“I get up at six in the morning to beat the rush hour and get to work at around 7.15. The first hour is spent on<br />

paper work and admin, and then I sit down with the chef and discuss what needs to be done in terms of a daily<br />

special, ordering and purchasing,” Fadi explains. “We know our customers, understand what they want and<br />

how to deliver the results; and we make sure we deliver service, consistency and quality no matter what the<br />

circumstances.”<br />

Crown Bakery is the brainchild of Fadi’s father. It first opened its doors in 1990 as a patisserie/bakery – hence the<br />

name. “My father was in the textile business for a very long time. As the textile trade started to dwindle, he saw<br />

an opportunity to start a patisserie as you could not find one in town. He saw a niche in the market and went<br />

along with his instincts. The business was self financed; he used every last penny of the capital he had available<br />

to him to start-up,” Fadi says.<br />

At the time, it was a classic family business operated by Mr and Mrs Keserwani and their two sons Fadi and<br />

Omar, who now runs the Wilkinson Road offshoot – Crown Express. With no background in the restaurant/bakery<br />

business, the family drew on all their resources – financial, entrepreneurial and educational (the family’s two<br />

sons had been educated and attended university in the UK).<br />

Over the years, the bakery diversified into a restaurant: “Relying on one product is not a bread winner,” Fadi<br />

jokes, “and we started introducing sandwiches, pizzas and fried chicken. We were always creating new menus<br />

and recipes. My parents played a big part in the success of the business.<br />

“We were very popular from the onset. There used to be a large missionary community back then and this was<br />

their favourite hangout. Saturday was packed with missionaries eating. I jokingly used to call it Missionary Day.<br />

We had friends who worked in Kabala and their treat when they were in Freetown was to come and visit us at<br />

Crown Bakery. One of them used to say to his kids “we are going to Macfadi’s to eat the best fried chicken.”<br />

Sierra Leone’s restaurant industry faces several well-known challenges and Crown Bakery is not immune. Fadi<br />

lists just a few: “Staffing, procurement – sourcing good quality, fresh ingredients is not always easy, and training.<br />

We have loyal customers – mainly local businesses and local people, but a section of our target market are the<br />

expats, that is an always changing group.”<br />

The company believes in empowering its staff and providing them with the best possible training and<br />

experience. “Basically all our training is done in-house - making guests feel comfortable and welcomed makes<br />

all the difference.”<br />

Like most businesses in Sierra Leone, the Ebola outbreak had a major impact and the restaurant lost of lot of<br />

business. “Sales were down by 60% for an extended period of time. Luckily we have seen an improvement in<br />

sales and now that we are Ebola free, we pray that businesses throughout Sierra Leone improve.”<br />

Fadi has some parting words for would-be restaurateurs: “It’s relatively easy to get into the restaurant industry.<br />

It’s what happens after that makes all the difference between success and failure. You must be present, involved<br />

and leading. We continuously strive to convey a winning attitude.”<br />

Fadi Keserwani’s Survive and Succeed Takeaway<br />

Know your customers<br />

Work hard – there really is no substitute<br />

Commit to providing the best – the best service, the best food, the<br />

best welcome<br />

Diversify<br />

Crown Bakery, Wilberforce Street, Freetown.<br />

Opening hours: 8.00am – 4.30pm.<br />

Famous for its daily specials, fried chicken and a wide range of sandwiches.<br />


• Family firms account for 2/3 (two thirds) of all businesses around the world<br />

• An estimated 70%-90% of global GDP annually is created by family businesses<br />

• Between 50%-80% of jobs in the majority of countries worldwide are created by family<br />

businesses<br />

• 85% of start-up companies are established with family money<br />

• 65% of family businesses are looking for steady income growth over the next five years<br />

• Family businesses show higher profitability in the long run<br />

• Family businesses are less likely to lay people off and more likely to hire despite the<br />

possibility of an economic downturn<br />

• Family businesses are more likely to give charitably to their respective communities and<br />

engage in extensive philanthropic activities<br />

• Family businesses have a more long-term strategic outlook due to their main motivation<br />

consisting of creating a legacy for generations to come<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

17<br />


Change Maker<br />

NASSIT’s Amara O Kuyateh<br />

talks about bright<br />

futures and big plans<br />

By Memuna Forna<br />

Amara O Kuyateh is a workaholic with big plans. The Deputy<br />

Director General of Sierra Leone’s National Social Security<br />

and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), has become such an integral<br />

figure within the organisation, it is hard to believe that<br />

he was recruited less than a year ago. He comes with an<br />

invaluable range of international know-how gleaned from<br />

senior roles at Watson Rice LLP, Grant Thornton LLP and<br />

PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked with clients<br />

such as the US Social Security Administration, Government<br />

Employees Retirement System of the Virgin Islands, Arcadian<br />

Health Plan of North Carolina, Inc., Centers for Medicare<br />

and Medicaid Services, US Department of Education, the US<br />

Department of Agriculture, and US Department of Housing and<br />

Urban Development.<br />

He had just made Partner at Watson Rice LLP, one of America’s<br />

largest and oldest accounting firms when he accepted an offer<br />

from NASSIT to serve as Deputy Director General. “I returned<br />

to Sierra Leone because of a strong desire to return home<br />

and serve our people and the availability of an opportunity<br />

which I believe was a good fit for my educational background,<br />

professional experience and skill set. I personally believe<br />

NASSIT should be as strong as the Central Bank of Sierra Leone<br />

and the desire to be part of a team that could make that<br />

happen was an irresistible pull factor,” he explains.<br />

He is part of a reinvigorated management team, which includes the Director General and the Chairman of the<br />

Board of Trustees, that is driving change at NASSIT. “The current Director General has worked at NASSIT since<br />

its inception so he has a lot of institutional memory and experience. Our Chairman of the Board of Trustees<br />

is a retired Bank of Sierra Leone Director of Banking Supervision. She has a reputation for being tough and<br />

very disciplined. I bring to the table experience of two social security systems. In addition, I worked in public<br />

accounting for over 13 years in the United States gaining experience in best practices in commercial and<br />

governmental entities. This new team was designed deliberately to bring about change at NASSIT.”<br />

At 13 years old, NASSIT is a relatively young organisation and its growing pains have been well documented<br />

in the media. Management theorists have described the process where organisations face a set of problems<br />

related to their youth, as the ‘liability of newness’. Kuyateh is candid about these, presenting them undiluted:<br />

“We are currently faced with challenges that are strategic and operational in nature. Some of the challenges are<br />

related to the timely processing of benefits, dealing with legacy investment issues and some emerging ones,<br />

data quality issues, inadequate information about NASSIT programmes, negative media coverage and poor public<br />

perception. However, we are on top of these issues and we are working assiduously as a team to address<br />

them.”<br />

Nevertheless, he says, the organisation has come a long way in its existence and is on the up and up: “The Social<br />

Security Administration in the United States is 80 years old and in the West African sub-region our sister social<br />

security institutions are on average at least 30 years old. Our commitment is to own up to our past mistakes<br />

and endeavour to ensure that we follow a disciplined approach to investment going forward. From an individual<br />

or organisational point of view, if you hold a portfolio of 14 companies some of the companies will throw up<br />

challenges. NASSIT is no exception to that rule. However, we have at NASSIT a young and highly educated<br />

workforce which I believe is the best in Sierra Leone. Added to which we have a new leadership team. NASSIT’s<br />

future is very bright.”<br />

Improving the governance of the scheme in general, including management of members’ records, timely<br />

processing and payment of benefits, aggressive registration and collection of contributions from new and<br />

existing establishments, and the enforcement of compliance actions, as well as a robust and disciplined<br />

approach to investments, is the organisation’s present strategic focus.<br />

“We have implemented a performance management system and everyone from the top down is empowered<br />

and required to actively participate in the process. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are selected carefully<br />

to be central to our core operations. They are based on a logical framework of the Trust’s goals, targets and<br />

indicators and are used to reflect the long term success of the organisation.”<br />

NASSIT has a raft of impressive new initiatives in the pipeline.<br />

It is working on extending coverage to Sierra Leoneans in<br />

the informal sector and Diaspora, starting a social health<br />

insurance scheme called SLESHI, and a workers’ injury<br />

compensation scheme. In recent months Diaspora consultation<br />

and outreach teams visited the Gambia and United States.<br />

Study tours have been sent to Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania to<br />

learn how they have implemented social health insurance and<br />

informal sector schemes and the current challenges that they<br />

are facing. The pilot phase of these programmes is scheduled<br />

for 2016.<br />

All in all, it has been a good year. Improved cash management of the organisation’s investments has increased<br />

budgeted interest income from Le 5.91 billion to an impressive Le 15.07 billion, surpassing targets by 155%.<br />

And that is not all. An electronic payment system will be operational in 2016, and “as a result of our robust<br />

compliance efforts we were able to meet and surpass our contribution targets even with the negative effects<br />

of the Ebola epidemic in <strong>2015</strong>. The projected contribution income as at year end <strong>2015</strong> exceeds the actuarial<br />

target by 7.1%. For an institution that is only 13 years’ old this is a significant achievement,” says Kuyateh with<br />

justifiable pride. In the same breath he adds: “However, I strongly believe NASSIT can and should do better.”<br />

‘Can and should do better’ is perhaps Kuyateh’s defining characteristic. “I am inspired by the belief that if you<br />

can dream it you can achieve it, especially if you are willing to work relentlessly hard. My mother comes from a<br />

small village called Yonibana in Northern Sierra Leone. Even with her limited formal education she is one of the<br />

most intelligent people I know. Her humble beginnings never stopped her from envisaging great things for her<br />

children.”<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

19<br />


<strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong> Contributor<br />

The Sierra Leone Diaspora<br />

Shows Resilience, Recovery<br />

and Resurgence<br />

By Amadu Massally<br />

It is no surprise that the World Bank is interested in the<br />

pulse of the Sierra Leonean diaspora with regard to their<br />

appetite for investment opportunities in their home country.<br />

In recovery efforts, diaspora investors and/or philanthropists<br />

are often the first ‘port of call’ to provide relief for countries<br />

that have experienced a national disaster. Haiti’s earthquake<br />

and Singapore’s/Asia’s SARS are good illustrations of that. It<br />

was no different in Sierra Leone with the Ebola epidemic.<br />

The World Bank saw an opportunity to leverage resources<br />

from the Sierra Leone diaspora for investment and trade<br />

and help the country move from the emergency response<br />

phase to recovery and beyond. Under the auspices of its<br />

Trade and Competitiveness unit, it has created a programme<br />

to facilitate this objective.<br />

The first step was to capture up to date, representative<br />

information on the diaspora’s attitudes, behaviours and<br />

overall experiences with investing at home. This meant<br />

an extensive research exercise which included focus<br />

group discussions, one-on-one interviews, a global survey,<br />

informal discussions and anecdotal data and a post-survey<br />

outreach exercise.<br />

The following stood out:<br />

• The need to build trust is a common theme in diaspora conversations.<br />

• The mobilised diaspora possess substantial and diverse human capital, robust middleclass income levels,<br />

and some limited available wealth for investment.<br />

• Huge gaps exist between current levels of diaspora investment (volunteerism, entrepreneurship, and<br />

portfolio investment) and diaspora investment interest.<br />

• Diaspora capital currently is impeded by numerous perceived obstacles to investment, particularly<br />

issues related to government policy/practice, weak infrastructure, finance and some local human capital<br />

challenges.<br />

• Several differences in investment attitudes, behaviour, and perceived obstacles exist among segments<br />

of the diaspora according to country-of-residence, generation, and gender.<br />

• Majority of study participants (83%) plan to return to Sierra Leone in the future.<br />

• High levels of education among Sierra Leonean diaspora are reflected in the study sample.<br />

• The percentage of study participants interested in almost all categories far exceeds the percentage of<br />

respondents actually doing so. The closest gap between interest and current investment is in real estate<br />

categories.<br />

• Respondents find many sectors attractive for investment; the education sector garners the greatest<br />

amount of current investment interest.<br />

• The desire to make a social impact is a particularly important emotional motivation driving Sierra<br />

Leonean diaspora investment interest.<br />

Despite their interest, potential diaspora investors were put off by issues such as the difficulty in obtaining<br />

energy, a lack of strong ICT infrastructure, difficulty in identifying suppliers, the lack of skilled mechanics and the<br />

lack of strong physical infrastructure.<br />

We are currently putting together an action plan that will involve the Sierra Leone diaspora stakeholders we<br />

have been working with in the UK, Canada and the US. But we also hope to go beyond just these communities<br />

and leverage Sierra Leonean organisations in other countries and cities we have not actively engaged. We have<br />

got to broaden the scope of participants and identify how we can use community outreach programmes to<br />

synchronise diaspora interests into one or more collective efforts.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

21<br />

The research looked at the demographic prof ile of the Sierra<br />

Leonean diaspora, with a focus on Canada, the United Kingdom,<br />

and the United States. It examined how the mobilised diaspora<br />

community currently engage in Sierra Leone’s development and<br />

its interest in investing human and f inancial capital in charity,<br />

volunteerism and business investment in Sierra Leone and in<br />

what particular types of programme, products and services?<br />

Finally, it asked what are the diaspora’s perceived obstacles to<br />

investment in Sierra Leone?<br />

I have no doubt however that many Sierra Leoneans, given the right opportunities, will step up and act to fill<br />

this void if the right institutional arrangements are in place. Without that, we are not going to proceed. In that<br />

regard, we have sought the assistance of the MIEUX II programme which is a joint effort between the European<br />

Union and the International Center for Migration Policy Development to assist the government and us in<br />

developing a Diaspora Engagement Policy. A proven methodology would be used that will encourage diaspora<br />

input. Successful implementations have been done in several African countries already to include Burundi and<br />

Cape Verde, among others.<br />

Coordination of the variable entities that will play a role would be a key success factor. Similarly, there has<br />

already been overlapping work within the private sector at home with two events; one by the Sierra Leone<br />

Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding hosted by the OECD in<br />

Paris and in conjunction with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and some Sierra Leonean private<br />

sector actors whose slogan of resilience, recovery and resurgence forms the title of this piece. We hope more of<br />

our kinfolk can join us in this important initiative.<br />

It all came together in September at a stakeholder’s conference at the World Bank Headquarters. Participants<br />

included representatives from the diaspora community, donor partners, financial institutions and international<br />

NGOs amongst others. We heard personal, hands-on experiences of doing business in Sierra Leone from the<br />

diaspora. We listened to successful implementers from other diasporas such as Connect Ireland, and examples<br />

from Western Union and others. A series of workshop sessions were aligned with the five investment priorities<br />

identified by diaspora Sierra Leoneans. These include real estate, social impact, volunteerism and skills transfer,<br />

entrepreneurship, and private equity and venture capitalism.<br />

Amadu Massally is the Study Coordinator of the World Bank – Sierra Leone Diaspora Investment and Trade<br />

Study.<br />

More information on the study can be found at the following link:<br />

www.worldbank.org/en/events/<strong>2015</strong>/09/30/sierra-leone-diaspora-investment-and-tradestakeholder- forum#1<br />

And the executive summary to the report can be found here:<br />

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/<strong>2015</strong>/09/25101638/sierra-leone-diasporainvestment-trade-study<br />


SMSE Focus<br />

Cordaid’s Resilient Business<br />

Development Support<br />

focuses on the missing<br />

middle SMEs of Sierra Leone<br />

By Sharron Kelliher,<br />

Supporting Private<br />

Sector Development<br />

Traditionally Sierra Leone’s private sector consists primarily of a large number of informal microenterprises<br />

operating alongside a limited number of large firms. Like so many developing countries, Sierra Leone has far<br />

fewer small and medium enterprises (SMEs).<br />

In high-income countries, SMEs are responsible for over 50% of GDP and over 60% of employment, but in lowincome<br />

countries they are less than half of that: 30% of employment and 17% of GDP. 1 This SME gap is called<br />

the ‘missing middle’.<br />

Centre for International Development, Harvard University<br />

Given the right combination of support, Cordaid recognises that these missing middle SMEs would have the<br />

potential to be the change makers in Sierra Leone in terms of growing employment and adding to GDP.<br />

Without a doubt, these missing middle SMEs are already<br />

resilient. Many of them have withstood the shock of this post-<br />

Ebola era and have managed to survive without permanent<br />

damage to their business. However, these same SMEs were and<br />

are still struggling to mature in any meaningful way that<br />

can break through the glass ceiling that is their potential<br />

for growth and prosperity. All things considered, the missing<br />

middle SMEs of Sierra Leone have done well, nevertheless they<br />

can and should be doing better. They remain constrained by<br />

lack of access to business knowledge and best practice and<br />

similarly a lack of access to the f inance necessary for further<br />

growth.<br />

Cordaid believes that if these barriers to their growth are removed, SMEs will contribute more to Sierra<br />

Leone’s economic development by creating jobs, increasing income, broadening of the tax base and ultimately<br />

decreasing poverty levels with a domino effect that can permeate all levels of society and community.<br />

Cordaid’s Resilient Business Development Support (RBDS)<br />

Following a rigorous selection and due diligence exercise a number of businesses with high potential will qualify<br />

for RBDS services. Cordaid recognises that the range of business challenges for Sierra Leone’s SMEs calls for a<br />

broader and multidisciplinary approach. Thus the RBDS programme offers an integrated support system that<br />

includes business training, one to one coaching, bespoke in–business technical expertise, access to information<br />

and networking opportunities. This new kind of business development support covers all the traditional topics,<br />

such as financial management, marketing and operations etc., but also new topics that address the specific<br />

challenges prevalent in challenging contexts, such as professionalism, delegation of responsibilities, social<br />

responsibility and adapted risk management.<br />

Cordaid’s initial aim is to achieve improvement of the SMEs bottom line and business capacity with an end goal<br />

to make the SMEs ‘investment ready’. After investment, RBDS supports SMEs to continue their growth, delivering<br />

services that are relevant at that period. This leads to step growth of the financial and social performance<br />

entrepreneurs and successively the results of the investors. Finally, the programme offers second growth spurt<br />

support with the objective of continued support for the SME through their continued growth and onto business<br />

resilience.<br />

Stability Impact Fund (SIF)<br />

Cordaid is convinced that RBDS and access to finance are both equally important. They reinforce each other<br />

when supporting the missing middle SME to overcome obstacles to business growth, harnessing their true<br />

potential and becoming change makers in terms of job growth and GDP.<br />

In 2013, Cordaid created the Stability Impact Fund (SIF). This is an impact fund that invests in missing middle<br />

SMEs and has a Sierra Leonean fund in place that invests between $10,000 and $100,000 per SME for growth<br />

support. Whilst foreign investors and local banks are rarely willing to invest in SMEs due to the high costs and<br />

risks involved, the SIF, with the confidence that the RBDS programme supplies, is targeting its investment directly<br />

at them.<br />

Consequently the RBDS programme supports the creation of a potential deal flow for direct investments of<br />

Cordaid’s SIF in the ‘missing middle’ segment. The end game is to help unleash economic growth — “not just for<br />

the few at the top, but for the many, because an essential element of dignity is being able to live a decent life.<br />

That begins with a job. And that requires trade and investment.” (Obama speech to African Union, <strong>2015</strong>).<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

23<br />

1 Ayyagari, Beck, & Demirguc-Kunt. “Small- and medium-enterprises across the globe: a new database<br />


Training <strong>Insight</strong><br />

Bad off ice etiquette<br />

is bad for business<br />

By Edleen B. Elba,<br />

JobSearch<br />




CAR RENT<br />




A prospective investor visited Sierra Leone intent on building a partnership with a company with whom he had<br />

liaised online and on the phone. His plan was to seal the deal and this was his experience: his potential partners<br />

were an hour late for their first meeting, during which they interrupted him constantly by taking phone calls. It<br />

was clear they were lacking in business etiquette.<br />

They did not improve on further acquaintance. They were late for subsequent meetings where they also<br />

displayed unprofessional behaviour. The investor was so put off that he decided not to work with them. He is<br />

now in the final stages of making a deal with another company, one where his new partners respond to his<br />

e-mails within 48 hours and have been consistently professional in their interactions with him.<br />

When principled, professional global companies decide which countries and companies to associate themselves<br />

with, office or business etiquette and ethics play a much greater role than we may imagine. International<br />

companies know that a partnership with an unprofessional or unethical partner can have a major impact on<br />

their own image and operations. It is a risk most do not want to take. In 2001, the scandal which led to the<br />

bankruptcy of the Enron Corporation, also led to the dissolution of their accountancy firm Arthur Andersen and<br />

prison sentences for a number of employees. One of the consequences of this scandal was the enactment of<br />

new regulations and legislations which affect parent companies and their subsidiaries.<br />

In today’s Sierra Leone, the absence of professional etiquette and ethics is evident in the lack of customer<br />

service, the way products are marketed and haphazard procurement processes across all sectors. This can in<br />

part be blamed on the interruptions to growth caused by natural and man-made disasters that the country has<br />

suffered over the years. It is also partly the result of an insular business environment in which the majority of<br />

employees have no exposure to internationally accepted business practice. Customers and employees complain<br />

but are generally helpless as there are no consumer-watch bodies and the manner in which business is done is<br />

not only widespread, but generally accepted.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

25<br />

Friends of Education<br />

are friends of protec<br />

Research shows that organisations which promote cultures with a focus on integrity, respect, working with<br />

the community and professionalism build stronger brands and last longer because their customers and<br />

employees remain loyal. Being credible gives them a competitive advantage. According to a study by 23red –<br />

an international communications company - 91% of consumers say brand behaviour is an influential factor in<br />

making purchases and requesting services. When business etiquette and ethics are set aside and the focus is<br />

only on profit, everyone suffers – the company, its employees and the consumer.<br />

Proudly Sponsoring The Tokeh Beach Regatta<br />

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Savvy employers provide their employees with the tools needed to create a professional and ethical business<br />

environment. They also ensure they lead by example. At JobSearch, we have designed the Employee of Choice<br />

training course to assist employers do this. It uses real life scenarios to teach students, job seekers and workers<br />

how to conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner. Business Etiquette covers making a good<br />

first impression, personal hygiene and grooming, communication, professional conduct in a meeting, on the<br />

telephone, in an e-mail, at an office function, at a dining table and while dealing with customers. Business<br />

Ethics looks at the point at which gifts and hospitality become bribery and corruption, equality and diversity,<br />

responsible marketing, taxes, environmental and social responsibility and an employee’s responsibilities to his<br />

or her employer. It is an interactive course which uses case studies, exercises and relevant examples from the<br />

instructor and the attendants. The course doesn’t dictate, but gives participants options and allows them to think<br />

about the right and wrong ways of conducting business.<br />

As Sierra Leone’s economy develops, some companies will decide to set themselves apart from the herd. When<br />

consumers and investors start voting with their feet, the advantages of an ethical company with professional<br />

staff will become evident.<br />

Edleen B Elba is a managing partner with JobSearch +232 44669199 or info@jobsearchsl.com<br />


Opinion<br />

Our private sector is the<br />

def inition of resilient -<br />

let’s give it some credit<br />

By Staff Writer<br />

The incursion of Donald Trump into mainstream US politics has thoroughly bloodied the waters between the<br />

political and the commercial. In polls, his success in business regularly comes up as one of his best assets. The<br />

public/private sector debate is at best tricky and the Trumpster’s growing popularity is not making it any less<br />

contentious.<br />

In developing economies such as ours, the private sector’s role as a public sector partner will only become more<br />

important. As Hilary Clinton has said: “… you cannot have development in today’s world without partnering with<br />

the private sector; that has been our mantra ….” At it’s best the public/private partnership is a two-way street,<br />

which generates opportunities for both to flourish and learn from each other, giving rise to important subtleties<br />

that can drive the development of a nation or the success of an organisation.<br />

In Sierra Leone however, a common private sector complaint is that<br />

instead of being a key player in the policy-making process, it fnds<br />

itself invariably relegated to a bit part.<br />

It is more than an accidental oversight; it is our recurring Achilles heel. It might be partly due to the widely-held<br />

view that our private sector is composed of a bunch of loot-toting carpetbaggers. Goodness knows we have our<br />

fair share, but we also have dedicated businesspeople who have taken a long-term view and painstakingly built<br />

their companies up from the ground, remaining committed to Sierra Leone through some very tough times.<br />

Take the issue of the private sector’s participation in the Ebola response – national and international attention<br />

repeatedly portrayed it as profiteering, when in fact there is more than enough evidence of the business<br />

community’s willingness to step up and be counted. In small and big ways, Sierra Leonean companies<br />

contributed. They provided information, funded health care, offered time, expertise and manpower, and donated<br />

considerably to the Ebola response fund in very lean times. The country’s success and stability is important to<br />

them. At the time, Ismail Mykay Kamara, managing director of A&A Investments and Services, was prompted to<br />

write of Sierra Leone’s SMEs: “SMEs, like local healthcare workers, might not be getting the international acclaim,<br />

but are at the forefront of the battle against Ebola …. Even as they face acute business challenges themselves,<br />

these SMEs have contributed out of their own resources, without coordination or external prompt.”<br />

The business community’s services may have been quietly appreciated, nevertheless it was noticeable that they<br />

weren’t called to the table. In the same piece, Mykay Kamara also wrote: “The hope is that businesses will take<br />

a more active role in the development agenda, particularly as it relates to Private Sector Development (PSD).<br />

The private sector has ironically been largely absent in discussions and initiatives related to PSD in Ebola-affected<br />

countries. Consequentially, governments and development agencies have driven the agenda. When involved,<br />

businesses are invited late into projects and typically respond in a lukewarm fashion. This must change.”<br />

Late and lukewarm remains the norm. The national discussion now is overwhelmingly focused on our post-<br />

Ebola economy; and the private sector is still only an occasionally guest. Part of the problem is its own lack of<br />

organisation. If the private sector is the engine of sustainable economic development, macroeconomic stability<br />

and poverty reduction; effective employer’s and business organisations are its mouthpiece - with the ability to<br />

help create the necessary conditions for economic growth. Their primary role is to ensure a positive business<br />

climate, by influencing government policy and advocating for regulatory change. They can play a decisive role<br />

in collective bargaining, training the workforce, setting professional standards and promoting best practice. In<br />

developing countries, where enabling business environments are still in their infancy and business challenges<br />

abound, the role of employer’s and business organisations should be absolutely central.<br />

There is a sizeable body of research to substantiate this view. Empirical research for the Research Programme<br />

Consortium on Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth (IPPG) covers several countries and indicates a direct<br />

positive correlation between economic growth and effective business associations, in South East Asia, East Asia<br />

and Sub Saharan Africa. Another IPPG paper examining the Zambian business climate, found that membership of<br />

a business association enhanced the performance of Zambian firms.<br />

Unsurprisingly then, building the capacity of employer’s and business associations in developing countries is<br />

seen as a priority. A 2011 report into employer’s organisations in West Africa argues that “the restructuring of<br />

the Federation of West African Employers’ Associations is critical in vamping up the West African private sector<br />

as African economic development is related to the existence of a dynamic and world class competitive private<br />

sector.” Unfortunately, the same report went on to say that West Africa’s “employer’s organisations are ill<br />

organised, lack resources, poorly execute their mandate and hardly deal with the challenges they face.”<br />

One of the areas where ‘late and lukewarm’ currently evident is in the discussion of Sierra Leone’s skills<br />

shortage. The mismatch between what our educational establishments are delivering and what Sierra Leone’s<br />

commercial sector actually needs is the source of ongoing frustration for employers and employees. Skills<br />

development has to be labour market oriented and this requires the equal input of both the private and<br />

public sectors. Developing our educational establishments to deliver this is critical, but while we wait for the<br />

educational sector to transform itself to meet new demands, the government should consider focusing resources<br />

at the sharp end – and help businesses improve the training they presently provide for their employees.<br />

Just as their Ebola response efforts went largely unrecognised, so too do their efforts to upskill their employees.<br />

The misconception that the private sector in Sierra Leone does not invest in developing the workforce is perhaps<br />

one of the most pernicious. Sierra Leone has a long indigenous tradition of on-the-job training and informal<br />

apprenticeships. It is the method by which most tailors, farmers, fitters, mechanics, painters, carpenters, as well<br />

as office workers in Sierra Leone learn or develop their skills. Supporting the business sector’s capacity to deliver<br />

quality training to its apprentices and employees would help drive standards up in a system which currently<br />

provides most of our workplace skills, and should be a priority.<br />

Our business community is nothing if not a product of its<br />

environment – rough, tough, hardwearing, and not always up<br />

to international standards. Sierra Leone is not an easy place<br />

to do business and the men and women who have guided their<br />

companies through one national disaster after another are the<br />

very def inition of resilient.<br />

Several years ago when Barak Obama addressed the Ghanaian parliament. He said: “Africa doesn’t need strong<br />

men; it needs strong institutions.” He is right, Africa does need strong institutions. It also needs strong leaders;<br />

and as we begin developing Sierra Leone’s economy, we need men and women with the strength, vision and<br />

resilience to come together as one, and contribute real solutions to Sierra Leone’s economic sustainability.<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

27<br />


The sharp end<br />

<strong>FT</strong> <strong>Insight</strong> asks<br />

Sierra Leone’s<br />

business community<br />

for their views<br />

One problem is that there are different rules for different people. So if I’m in the same business of food import<br />

into SL with another competitor, he or she might pay 70% less customs fees than me or vice versa! These huge<br />

discrepancies mitigate against resilience. Legislation and regulations regarding import and taxes have to be<br />

enforced. A body such as the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce needs to ensure and create a pro-competitive<br />

environment for all businesses large or small. They could also foster mentorship programmes for young<br />

entrepreneurs and youth. Internships are the way to give talented, educated youngsters the opportunity and the<br />

work experience they need to be the next generation of business leaders.<br />

Satta Helen Matturi, MD, Ideal Luminance Consulting PTY Ltd<br />


Resilience is the ability to adapt, respond and keep going in the<br />

face of major changes - demands, disruption, disaster and other<br />

threats. In states like ours, it’s a prerequisite. We canvassed<br />

the people at the sharp end of Sierra Leone’s business and<br />

investment community and asked how the government and<br />

business sector can work together to create a more resilient<br />

economy and more resilient businesses. Below are their<br />

responses.<br />


If we are looking for poverty alleviation to come from wealth creation, it is critical that economic recovery<br />

is inspired and delivered by the private sector. This means we have to put the private sector in the centre<br />

of decision making discussions, strategy and implementation. As I see it, the private sector is frequently<br />

crowded out of the process by the public sector and our development partners. More often than not, the<br />

business person’s voice is missing, both individually and collectively and this holds us back. It is a twoway<br />

process. The private sector is not being invited to the table; equally we are not banging on the door.<br />

We need better organised trade bodies and associations to represent the private sector more effectively.<br />

Mykay Kamara, AA Holdings<br />

The private sector must create sustainable<br />

employment. We must identify and<br />

promote a few strategic national<br />

industries. These must be industries<br />

geared towards the export market;<br />

capable of creating mass employment and<br />

harnessing local resources, and that<br />

can easily carve a world market share.<br />

For example, a cassava processing plant<br />

producing industrial starch provides<br />

the agrarian population a ready market<br />

for an easily cultivatable crop. This can<br />

immediately benef it a huge sector of<br />

the population. Industrial Starch is a 15<br />

Billion Dollar/annum Industry.<br />

Jiad Swaid, CEO, Vulcan Holdings Ltd<br />

We can as a business community create lobbying<br />

groups to advise and where necessary pressure<br />

government to provide more conducive environments<br />

for businesses.<br />

Randa Swaid, MD City Plaza and Swiss Spirit Hotel<br />

Business resilience in a tough environment requires<br />

thrifty management – overspending is fatal – and<br />

excellent relations with local communities and<br />

off icials. Businesses must be lean to survive, and<br />

deliver a genuinely positive impact.<br />

Paddy Docherty, Chief Executive, Phoenix Africa<br />

Development Company<br />

The business community can help create<br />

a more resilient economy by starting<br />

a social project within their locality,<br />

separate from central government.<br />

Weakness in local government means<br />

there are a lot of useful elements<br />

missing from local communities -<br />

libraries and community centres for<br />

example.<br />

John Daramy, CEO Goldarama Ltd<br />

The business community as a unit is a key driving<br />

force for any economy and its ability to weather<br />

through ups and downs in the economic cycle,<br />

determines how resilient the economy is. A key<br />

factor is investor conf idence; once businesses<br />

have a conducive environment they are more<br />

likely to continue their operations such as<br />

trading, manufacturing and services through<br />

testing times.<br />

Rajesh Hemnani, PeeCee & Sons<br />


The Government must provide the foundation for the development of our local human resource by<br />

promoting modern and effective training institutions. This can be achieved through bilateral cooperation,<br />

or by duplicating success stories in other countries. The business sector also needs access to affordable<br />

medium/long term finance - which necessitates the government modernising the banking sector.<br />

Jiad Swaid, CEO, Vulcan Holdings Ltd<br />

Identify and support those business investing in medium to long-term projects such as agriculture, fisheries, light<br />

manufacturing, etc. The support can be in form of:<br />

• Policies promoting good incentives to encourage investment in these sectors<br />

• Help establish special funding (loans) at sustainable rates to these businesses. Current local rates (12-18%)<br />

are not investment friendly<br />

• Eliminate unnecessary ‘Red Tape” that often impedes utilisation of the provisions of existing laws.<br />

Israel Okujagu, Sierra Leone Bottling Company<br />

The Government can do f ive things:<br />

• limit the role of government<br />

• make it easy for business to function through more efficient registration and regulation<br />

• deliver the necessary infrastructure – energy, roads and a seaport<br />

• ensure currency stabilisation<br />

• improve access to financing for SMEs, through better functioning of commercial banks and development of<br />

alternate non-governmental channels of funding.<br />

Mykay Kamara, AA Holdings<br />

<strong>FT</strong><br />

<strong>Insight</strong><br />

29<br />


The Government of Sierra Leone should<br />

have a two-pronged approach to build<br />

a resilient business sector. Firstly,<br />

revising tax structures and providing<br />

cost-effective infrastructure can<br />

help local manufacturing operations<br />

to prosper. Secondly, funding and<br />

incentive schemes for upcoming and<br />

unique businesses have to be provided<br />

in order to encourage new investors.<br />

This ensures the incoming national<br />

revenue stream is diversif ied and<br />

sustainable.<br />

Rajesh Hemnani, PeeCee & Sons<br />

Government needs to involve the<br />

relevant private sector organisations<br />

when adopting policies or improving<br />

infrastructure that concerns the<br />

respective industries.<br />

Randa Swaid, MD City Plaza and Swiss<br />

Spirit Hotel<br />

The government can build a more<br />

resilient business sector by ensuring<br />

that rules regarding registration,<br />

payments, collecting of revenue are all<br />

within published government rules<br />

and not subject to the whims of local<br />

off icials.<br />

Encourage entrepreneurship, especially<br />

amongst women! Bring in regulations<br />

that make it easy to do business in Sierra<br />

Leone, for example introduce a f lat and<br />

favourable tax rate, sort out the Leone<br />

currency maybe by pegging with another<br />

($£) which would build trust and stability<br />

amongst potential investors. Business<br />

(SMEs) needs security today in the form<br />

of infrastructure, technology and the<br />

standard basic business facilities so that<br />

investors can forecast their returns for<br />

tomorrow. Businesses also need the right<br />

demographics to utilise the products<br />

and services on offer, so government<br />

should be working to sort out welfare,<br />

youth unemployment etc. They also need<br />

to believe in their own; there are very<br />

capable Sierra Leoneans out there with<br />

international experience. I’m a living<br />

example of this and after attempting to<br />

move back home and settle, I have taken<br />

my knowledge and talent elsewhere on<br />

the African continent and registered my<br />

own advisory and consultancy company<br />

catering to the diamond mining industry.<br />

Satta Helen Matturi,<br />

MD, Ideal Luminance Consulting PTY Ltd<br />

John Daramy, CEO, Goldarama Ltd<br />

The government can support the resilience of small business by providing soft loans/ lines of credit<br />

for new product development that adds value to raw materials, particularly in agribusiness. It should<br />

support linking our universities or technical institutes to these small businesses for such product<br />

development. It should offer the same tax breaks to national businesses as it does to foreign<br />

investors, particularly where the small businesses employ at least 30 or more local employees in<br />

lower and middle management capacities. It should do this consistently for at least five years and<br />

see the result. Then it should replicate this for another five years depending on the result.<br />

Beatrice Chaytor, Independent Consultant on Trade Law and Policy<br />

Education, education, education.<br />

Randa Swaid, MD City Plaza and Swiss Spirit Hotel<br />


&<br />


photo<br />

graphy<br />

video<br />

design<br />

bex@bexsingleton.com<br />


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