Publiceret: 22.03.2017Af Felix Bekkersgaard Stark mail
Since spring 2016, 14 Danish companies have participated in the project “Africanisation - From Næstved to Nairobi”.
The project, which is run by the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), differs from other export promotion activities in that the companies have undergone a longer course with workshops and boot camps in which their business plans and strategies were examined with a fine-tooth comb.
This has taken place in close cooperation with, among others, two local Kenyan consultants, who have also helped to identify possible business partners.
“We have especially benefited from having access to DI’s consultant who is based in Kenya. This has saved us countless trips, and he has provided a lot of help in relation to finding possible business partners in the country,” explains Arthur Rosenberg, area manager at Nilfisk, which is one of the 14 companies that have participated in the project.
Nilfisk produces cleaning equipment and already has sales in South Africa and several countries in North Africa. But the timing of “Africanisation - From Næstved to Nairobi” was particularly fortunate for the company.
“Our market in e.g. Egypt has drastically shrunken. The country’s tourism industry has been badly hit by terrorist acts in recent years, so we were looking for new African markets, and we were very interested in Kenya. We were therefore very enthusiastic when DI gave us the opportunity to join the project a bit late, as it will help serve as a bridge to the East African market,” says Arthur Rosenberg.
The late arrival to the project meant that Nilfisk benefited from personal help from DI to develop a so-called business canvas - a specific business model for the Kenyan market that the other participants had already drawn up in workshops.
“It was, of course, an advantage to have personal dialogue with DI’s consultant. Our ideas and plans have been tested and challenged during both the workshop and the subsequent trip to Kenya, where we held meetings with Kenyan businesspeople,” says Arthur Rosenberg.
He explains that the trip itself revealed some of the challenges of establishing oneself in Kenya, because there were meetings that got cancelled with very short notice.
“In that regard, it was a huge advantage that DI’s sister organisation KAM (Kenyan Association of Manufacturers, ed.) was also involved in the trip. Thanks to their network, we could quickly set up meetings to replace the ones that were cancelled, and the quality was high the whole way through,” says Arthur Rosenberg.
See also: Exporting Danish cycling culture to Africa
Through the project, Nilfisk has now narrowed down the field of possible partners in Kenya to just two contenders that both have great potential.
“Now we need to choose whether to go with the one, the other or both. When that decision has been made, we’ll enter the final negotiations about what the partnership will look like, and we’ll then be ready to increase our activities in Kenya,” says Arthur Rosenberg.
He explains that there is great interest in the company’s products in Kenya.
“Many hotel chains are keen to invest in automatisation, but the challenge is that labour in the country is cheap. They are therefore constantly deliberating whether to invest in equipment or continue with manual cleaning. But the interest is there, and as the country’s prosperity grows, our market will also become bigger. It’s therefore important for us to get started and establish ourselves as a brand,” says Arthur Rosenberg.
Among the 13 companies that have participated in the project, three companies today have concrete plans to establish their own company in Kenya and five companies are working to find local partners.
This is more than satisfactory for Jacob Kjeldsen, director of International Business Development at DI. He has served as project manager and says that the companies have approached the project with great enthusiasm and professionalism.
“It’s the first time we’re trying out an approach in which DI has been present on the sidelines from start to finish. Over time, we’ve gained much experience on the continent but the results of this type of project have proven very promising,” says Jacob Kjeldsen.
He expects that the experiences from the course will lead to another “project Africanisation” along the lines of this one.
“In the course of spring, we’ll carry out a primary evaluation of the project to see what went well and what went less well. In 2018, we’ll carry out the final evaluation, and on the basis of that, we’ll draw up a report that can be used as a lever for other small and medium-sized enterprises with ambitions of establishing themselves or increasing sales in Africa. And then we expect to be able to develop more projects that can provide Danish companies with increased access to the growing African market,” says Jacob Kjeldsen.
The Danish Industry Foundation has financed the project as a part of the foundation’s special initiative to create new roads for exports.
CEO Mads Lebech explains that Africa is a continent in which many countries are now experiencing a more stable growth and which thereby also constitutes an attractive market seen from a Danish perspective.
“It is, of course, good news that companies that have participated in the project are now ready to take the next step. But in addition, it will be particularly exciting if even more Danish companies look the same direction and can, in that connection, take advantage of the wealth of experience that the project has provided,” says Mads Lebech.
From Næstved to Nairobi
See also: Danish company to electrify Tanzania
Two-year project running from 2016 to 2018 led by DI International Business Development (DIBD).
Participants: ENKOTEC, Brødrene Hartmann, DESMI, AVK International, Glud & Marstrand, A/S Wodschow, Danespo, Nilfisk, Palsgaard, Triax, Dantherm, Orana, Vestfrost and Dinex.
To Africa with DI
Read more about the services regarding the African market that the Confederation of Danish Industry provides, including consultancy, news and information about relevant conferences, seminars, campaigns and trade fairs.