Interims for Development in the press

Since its inception, the company has attracted an appreciable amount of press coverage. 

The following is a selection of those articles.

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Accra Daily Mail, May 10 2006

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News Africa - September 2006

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News Africa - March 2006

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Business Week, Ghana - AGI, UK Firms Sign Agreement to Boost SME’s - September 2005

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This Day Online, Nigeria - UK Firm Brings Strategic HR Management Course to Lagos - September 2005

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African Caribbean Business Network Newsletter – ‘Building Capacity for Africa – London-based Company receives top award for innovative capacity building.’ March 2005

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South Africa Broadcasting Corporation – ‘SA Economic Growth Attracts British Investors, January 2005’

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The Daily Graphic (Ghana) - Bartels bemoans brain drain - May 3, 2003

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Financial Times (U.K.) - 'A bid to stem Africa's brain drain' - March, 2003

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Diaspora Developments - Africans Abroad Working for Africa's Future - September 2003

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Benefits and Compensation International - 'Happenings' - June 2003

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Black London (U.K.) - Professional Development via Africa - May, 2003

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Ghana Review International (U.K.) - Professional Skills for Ghana's Development - April, 2003

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Sky High(UK) - 'Reversing Africa's Brain Drain and Building African Businesses on a Budget' - March, 2003

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Complinet Human Resources (U.K.) - 'Ex-HR practitioner launches innovative new scheme for overseas secondments' - February, 2003

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The Voice (U.K.) - 'Apply your skills in Africa' - February 17, 2003

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London Extra (U.K.) - 'International Development through Ethnic Partnership' - January, 2003

Accra Daily Mail
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Latest innovative programme of award-winning Ghanaian-founded company, Interims for Development

London-based company Interims for Development (www.InterimsFD.com), has launched ReConnect Africa (www.ReConnectAfrica.com) to address the impact of the continuing and devastating drain of professional talent from Africa.
This unique online publication will offer a one-stop shop for those who recruit and manage talent in Africa and provides jobs, information and advice for job seekers and entrepreneurs around the world looking at career and business opportunities in Africa.
Explaining the need for ReConnect Africa, Interims for Development's Ghanaian founder and CEO Frances Williams says, "The continent's brain drain is posing an increasingly critical problem for African governments, with the loss of skills impacting severely on economic growth and enterprise development in many countries. Enticed by powerful international recruitment campaigns by the west, many of our most highly trained professionals are leaving."
Skilled professionals working within Africa also experience difficulty in identifying better opportunities in their own countries and elsewhere around the continent. "ReConnect Africa is about bringing together the people of a continent where fractured communications can hamper the sharing of knowledge and information and the many examples of successful business practices and people management", says Williams.
Despite the often negative portrayal of Africa in the media, increasing political stability around the continent has led to a successful economic turnaround and business growth in many countries, while western and African multinationals continue to post significant profits in traditional manufacturing and exports as well as in the newer sectors of telecommunications, technology and business process outsourcing.
According to World Bank estimates, replacing the skills lost from Africa costs more than $4 billion a year in salaries for western expatriate human resources. While Africa today offers opportunities for both newly qualified and experienced professionals, attracting this talent back into Africa and reaching the African talent around the content can prove a challenge. ReConnect Africa offers convenient recruitment packages for employers in Africa and a range of careers, tools and services for job seekers. "There are many Africans with the technical skills and managerial expertise needed in Africa," says Williams. "ReConnect Africa provides a resource for professionals around the world with their eye on Africa."
ReConnect Africa is the latest innovative project developed by Interims for Development, which was established in 2002. Officially launched in Ghana in April 2003 by the Ghana Government's Minister for Private Sector Development, Interims for Development works with African businesses and international companies operating in Africa to support their Human Resources, business development and capacity building needs. In 2005 the company was awarded Rising Star of the Year award by the UK Trade and Investment Black Enterprise Awards, described by the UK media as "the Rolls Royce of business awards". In July 2005, Williams was also named 'Business Innovator of the Year 2005' by the Ghana Professional Achievers Awards and, in February 2005, Williams received the prestigious Gold Award for Innovative Capacity Building at the British conference organised by the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network (GWIIN).

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Interims for Development and FAD deliver media skills training for journalists in Uganda

Interims for Development in conjunction with the Ugandan based Foundation for African Democracy (FAD) successfully developed and delivered a two day programme in Kampala for media personnel. Prompted by the increasing challenges for the media in Africa, the Ugandan-based Foundation and the Human Resources and Training organisation, Interims for Development, developed and held the programme in July 2006 entitled “Challenges of Elections Reporting in Africa”

Sponsored by the Westminster Foundation for Development, the two-day programme provided an opportunity for over 40 media practitioners in Uganda to come together to share experiences of reporting in the recent elections in Uganda and to address the challenges of promoting and sustaining democratic institutions in Africa through responsible reporting.

Pioneer journalist, Dr Peter Mwesige who opened the programme, stressed the indispensable role that the countries media play. “The news media is not like any other business. They are the main sources of information for a majority of the people and they play an important watchdog role,” he said. Mwesige the founder of the Uganda’s Crusader newspaper and now head of Mass Communication at Makerere University observed that in elections, “the news media are expected to play the role of thought stimulation, explaining and informing in order to help voters make intelligent decisions on the basis of knowledge.”

Noting that the information revolution and the commercial considerations have profoundly changed the environment in which today’s editor works, Mwesige suggested that today’s diversity of news sources has put new market pressures on journalists and has adversely impacted on the content and quality of journalism practiced. Analysing the recent elections held in Uganda, Mwesige described the overall tenor of reportage as having “little analytical rigour, investigative depth, insight, context, synthesis and perspective.” He called on news organisations to introduce more mentoring programmes as, he said,” the young journalist need senior colleagues who can pat them on the back, point out gaps in heir stories and generally inspire them to do better.” The challenges are many, he said, “but we can get it right.”

Since the liberalisation of Uganda’s airwaves in 1993, the media has blossomed and there are now over a hundred radio stations around the country. In February 2006 Uganda held its first national presidential and parliamentary elections under a multiparty political system in 20 years. This historical landmark proved a stern text for the role of the media as the provider of strategic information and a forum for political debate.

Commenting on the ethics of media reports and the requirements to observe the principles of truth, accuracy and fairness, Adolf Mbaine of Makerere University observed that ethics posed a big challenge to the media, “as journalist across various spectra often see ethics as an annoying inconvenience.”

The two-day programme was closed by the Chairman of the Uganda Electoral Commission, Dr Badra Suleiman Kiggundu, who thanked the organisers and urged the participants to undertake some critical self-evaluation. “The role of the media in the dissemination of news is critical for an accountable and sustainable democracy,” he said. “The recent elections were a new chapter and a challenge for Uganda.”

“The event was a great success,” confirmed Vincent Kalimire, Chief Executive Officer of Foundation for African Democracy, co-organisers of the event. Expressing her satisfaction with the outcome of the programme, Frances Williams the CEO of Interims for Development, said, “The media has a crucial role to play in sustaining confidence in democracy in Africa. This programme offered an excellent opportunity for participants to come together to share good practice and agree on a code of ethics in reporting on elections; both during and after events.”

Interims for Development is a UK based company providing a range of Human Resources, Training, Employment and Capacity building services in the UK and Africa, while the Foundation for African Democracy (FAD) is an indigenous non-governmental organisation established in1979.FAD’s vision is to build a democratic culture of dialogue, ensure social justice, respect for Human rights and freedoms and Good governance in Uganda.

 

Business Week, Ghana - 19th - 25th September 2005

By Raphael Adeniran

The Association of Ghana Industries(AGI) has signed a one year contract with a UK based human resource development company to build human resource capacities of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

 The company, Interims for Development, will undertake its tasks by organising strategic training programmes and workshops themed on good corporate governance for operators in the SME sectors, particularly those who are members of the AGI.

 According to Frances Williams, Chief Executive of Interims for Development, the company has achieved wide experience in capacity building on the African continent, working in countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria.

 Kofi Kludjeson, President of the AGI, told Business Week that AGI’s move to contract the UK Company is based on the Association’s current drive to radically improve the efficiency of SMEs.

 Even though in Ghana the SME sector forms about 80% of all businesses, it is noted that the sector is generally unorganised. SMEs crude management practices have hindered their development significantly. For instance, lack of good accounting methods has discouraged financial institutions from granting the sector adequate credit for growth. SMEs are regarded by creditors and investors as high-risk borrowers, due primarily to insufficient credit histories and uncertainties regarding their entrepreneurial abilities.

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This Day Online, Nigeria - 14/09/2005

 

The Daily Graphic (Ghana)

‘Bartels bemoans brain drain’ - May 3, 2003

Mustapha Salifu

The Financial Times(UK) March, 2003

"A bid to stem Africa's brain drain"

The continent has steadily lost technical and management skills as many of its brightest and best have sought careers overseas. David White looks at two schemes to entice them back

 

Go and work in Africa. That might not be everybody's idea of a mainstream career proposal. It might strike you as an echo from an earlier generation, the exhortation of a father to a wayward son who has blown is prospects of a respectable profession and is given a last chance in the colonies. Or it might suggest something to do with charity, a voluntary stint on an aid project perhaps, or a plan for a gap year.

A very different view of the Africa jobs market is being promoted by two UK-based initiatives that have launched themselves into the business of arranging temporary and long-term postings for qualified personnel. Both are aimed at turning back a brain drain reckoned to have deprived the African continent of more than 40 per cent of its high-level technical and management skills in the past three decades.

Africa supplies its own professional talent, of course, but a large part of it has moved out to places such as London, Paris or the US. The statistics are difficult to verify, but there are reputed to be more Sierra Leonean doctors in the Chicago area than in Sierra Leone, and more African-born scientists and engineers working in the US than in Africa.

The two Africa-specific ventures set out to enlist professionals, managers and other skilled staff. While they are casting their nets as widely as possible, a central idea is getting exiled Africans or people of African family backgrounds to take their skills back tot heir home continent.

"There are more people leaving than going, and the question is how to reverse that," says Frances Williams, the UK-educated Ghanaian responsible for the newer of the two initiatives, Interims for Development. Aimed at organising temporary assignments of one to three months, its first country programme is due for launch in Accra, Ghana at the end of next month.

The idea, she says, is to make professionals available to African employers for much less than the normal cost of bringing in outside consultants, which may be 1,000 a day. The scheme could provide expertise in-house at a quarter of the cost of sending someone abroad for training.

Host companies will be charged a fee to cover logistical costs and will be expected to look for accommodation, usually in guest houses or private homes. Those taking part in the scheme have economy air fares, visa costs and health insurance paid for and will be entitled to a "modest" local currency stipend to help cover day-to-day living costs.

Ms. Williams, who has a background in investment banking and marketing, is compiling a register of available personnel. She reports interest from as far afield as Kenya and Peru as well as the US and mainland Europe. Likely assignments might involve strategic human resources management, technical IT projects or corporate acquisitions.

She emphasises: "We're not a charity." The distinction sets it apart from Voluntary Services Overseas, which organises longer assignments and focuses more on services such as health and social care, or the government-backed British Executive Services Overseas, which also seeks experienced volunteers for temporary assignments but operates more globally.

However, Ms. Williams is looking at possible sponsorship deals and other sources of funding in cases where companies have difficulty meeting its fees. She is also talking to employers who may be willing to spare staff as part of their management development.

Likely participants include people who are between jobs or taking career breaks, early retirees, and recent MBA graduates wanting to build up their CVs.

The longer-term recruitment scheme, Africa Recruit, was set up six months ago by the Commonwealth Business Council, which represents private sector companies. It staged an inaugural jobs fair and seminar in London this month. About 35 companies have so far agreed to back it. Africa Recruit now aims to expand its reach into French-speaking African countries.

'There are more people leaving than going. The question is how to reverse that'

Taken in under the umbrella of this venture is an existing web site, FindaJobinAfrica.com, founded by Dr. Titi Banjoko, a British Nigerian working in healthcare management. Dr Banjoko says she was inspired by friends who wanted to go to Africa but had to criss-cross the continent in search of work. In two years the site has built up a store of 20,000 CVs.

The large majority are not so much would-be "expats" as would-be "re-pats" - Africans based in Europe, North America, Asia or Africa itself. Demand for high-calibre managers has ballooned with privatisation and the expansion of companies such as South Africa's MTN telecommunications group in other African countries.

Dr. Banjoko says the temporary and permanent job schemes complement each other. "There are some people who are ready to make the drastic change. There are others who want a bridge, to see if it is a good idea; not everybody is ready to pack and go."
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Ghana Review International (UK) - April, 2003

‘Professional Skills for Professional Development’

An innovative volunteer programme is set to support Ghanaian businesses with cost-effective technical skills

 

In common with other African administrations, the Ghanaian government faces a major challenge in its efforts to reduce poverty. However, improving the quality of life for Ghanaians relies heavily on the ability of institutions and companies to build and develop capacity and to invest in the skills needed to stimulate the economy. The menace of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of more than 18 million Africans, is spreading. At the same time, considerable numbers of trained professionals are leaving Ghana.

The challenge of bringing professional skills back into Ghana rests not only with government and NGOs, but also on initiatives from private sector organisations and individuals concerned with the welfare of the nation. In response to this challenge, a new organisation has been launched with the objective of directing skills and expertise towards Ghana and other African countries that are necessary to support private and public sector business development.

Interims for Development, a UK based organisation, is currently registering professionals to offer their services to companies in Ghana through short-term assignments ranging from one to three months. These Interim Managers will lend their skills on a voluntary basis, enabling the organisation to offer high-calibre expertise to African businesses at a substantially reduced cost.

' We work closely with the African client company to frame the objectives of the assignment and to source the appropriate expertise from our network of individuals and companies in the UK and elsewhere," explains Frances Williams, a Human Resources Consultant, who established the programme as a way of tapping into the abundant skills and goodwill of individuals and companies in the West with an interest in developing Africa.

Interims for Development holds a register of trained professionals from a range of backgrounds including Banking, Finance, IT., Manufacturing, Health, Education and the media and matches them to companies in Ghana and other parts of Africa that need those skills. The Interims programme levies a fixed fee for services that include the flights, health insurance and visas as well as cultural briefing to Interims before they leave on assignment. The company in Ghana is asked to provide modest accommodation and to identify a host family - usually a senior employee of the company - who can offer social and cultural support to the Interim during the assignment.

Although volunteer programmes are not new in Ghana, the approach taken by Interims for Development reflects the commercial experience of its founders. Formerly the Human Resources Director of a prominent bank in Accra, Mrs. Williams knows at first hand the difficulties faced by companies in building skills among their employees.

"In my experience, one of the key challenges Ghanaian companies face is finding international quality training and development opportunities for its employees within limited budgets. The Interims programme offers companies a less costly alternative to expensive overseas trainers and management consultants, while at the same time bringing in people with hands-on experience who can add value to an organisation within a very short period of time."

"What we have seen in the short time since we set up the organisation is that there are many people from of all ethnic backgrounds who are committed to moving Africa forward," she explains. "This programme offers Africans in the diaspora a chance to help their countries by using their skills and expertise on these short-term assignments." Interest has also been expressed by some Africans who are considering going back to live in Africa and who want a chance to 'test the waters' and build relationships and networks to prepare for their return.

When asked whether Ghanaian companies will welcome foreign intervention, however well meant, Mrs. Williams's opinion is that progressive companies that are committed to growth and economic success will see the value of the programme.

"We know that some companies may feel sceptical about the value of bringing foreigners in to solve local Ghanaian problems," she says. "However, we believe that external expertise can offer major benefits to businesses, even those that are 'doing well'. Ghanaians have a wealth of potential but how are we going to build the capacity of this abundant talent to make a difference to Ghana's economy? There are many people who want to help and we should use this to benefit ourselves in the long term."

The Interims on the programme offer an experienced resource with exposure to international best practice in a range of industries. They can assist with projects for which in-house resources may be scarce or not available, undertake sensitive projects without internal bias or develop and deliver in-house training. Even with short-term assignments, the expertise on offer can make a long-term impact. Assignments can result in reduced production costs and waste, assistance with reviewing financial systems or IT programs, support with the development of new financial products or improvement in the quality of client services and processes.

Mrs. Williams cites the attitude of the Interims as a critical aspect of the programme. "The Interim Managers are not coming with the mindset that they have all the answers," she says. "What we are offering are experienced professionals who are willing to share what they have learned in their own environment and to work with companies to use that expertise in a way that is appropriate to the business and social culture in Ghana. The Interim, in turn, will be learning some valuable cultural lessons, assisted by their host family."

In April this year, Interims for Development will hold a formal launch in Ghana to publicise the programme to Ghanaian companies and organisations.

"We are appealing to individuals with professional skills to register their interest in undertaking an Interim assignment and to companies in Ghana and other parts of Africa that are interested in using the services of an Interim Manager to contact us", says Mrs. Williams.
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Sky High (UK) March, 2003

Reversing Africa's Brain Drain and Building African Businesses on a Budget’

Sky High talks to Frances Williams, Chief Executive of UK-based Interims for Development, about her company’s budget-conscious approach to training and business development in Africa.

 

SH - The Interims for Development programme is a new initiative. What was the inspiration behind it?

FW - You know, almost everywhere you go in Africa you are faced with the same dilemma - the enormous potential of our people combined with a lack of institutional capacity to develop the skills Africa needs. The gains we made in the 1960"s and 70"s in development, education and public health are now almost totally lost. What do we see today? Thousands of skilled Africans leaving for the West while HIV/AIDS continues to destroy our professionals.

We were inspired to act because I think we all accept that there is a fundamental need for capacity building to sustain what we have achieved through development aid. We see the private sector as the engine of growth and it is here that we felt we could make a difference.

SH - How does Interims for Development help to build African businesses?

FW - We devised the Interims programme as a way to support African companies to grow and develop their businesses. The programme provides companies with expertise from British and other professionals who join the African company as Interim Managers to take on specific projects or provide in-house training for short periods of between one and three months.

SH - How does your programme work?

FW - Our goal is to provide companies with skills that will help boost their commercial performance but on a low cost basis. We do this by identifying professionals who are willing to undertake these assignments on a virtually voluntary basis. Our company finds the Interim Manager and covers the cost of their flights, visas, health and travel insurance as well as providing them with a modest local stipend. We also manage the agreements relating to the assignment and brief the Interim about the business and social culture of the country they will be assigned to. We take an active role in monitoring the assignment to make sure that the company "s objectives are met.

SH - Why would a company want to use the Interims programme rather than using the many other training opportunities available?

FW - The Interims programme allows a company to pay a fixed fee for the services I have outlined. Their only responsibility is to provide accommodation and this, we emphasise to our Interims, is modest. We are not talking about five star hotels but modest Guest Houses or even private houses. To give the Interim a full cultural experience, we also ask each company to nominate a "Host Family" who will welcome the Interim Manager into their social lives and introduce him or her to the local culture.

SH - You stress that this programme is cost-effective. How do you manage this?

FW - I spent a number of years working in Ghana as the Human Resources Director of a private merchant bank and one issue that confronted us when it came to training and business development was cost. To train your staff in skills not readily available in Africa often means paying for expensive overseas courses. Add to that the cost of flights, hotels and per diems and these courses can be such a huge financial drain that, in the end, such training is given only to a few key staff. And of course, if these employees leave, the company has effectively wasted its money.

However, with our programme, by paying a fixed fee - which is often less than sending one senior employee overseas - a company will have an in-house resource that will be available for at least one month and will benefit more employees at a lower cost.

SH - What kind of help could an African company get from one of your Interims with such short assignments?

FW - We believe that even short-term assistance can make a real impact. Our Interims are professionals from different industries who have proven expertise in their field and can work to tight deadlines. From developing and delivering in-house training to reviewing business and financial systems, assisting with projects requiring specific expertise or confidentiality, Interims can help companies reduce costs, improve quality and introduce international best practice.

For example, I developed a new performance management system and job evaluation process for an investment bank in Harare – and that was on a two-week consultancy assignment! So, it is possible for someone with the right skills to make a difference in a short time.

SH - What makes this different from other volunteer programmes operating in Africa?

FW - The Interims for Development programme is managed by professionals who have firsthand experience of working in Africa. Because of our background in recruitment, selection and human resources development, we understand the skills and abilities a business needs.

What we offer is a fresh - and commercial approach to delivering business solutions. As Africans helping to solve our own problems, our commitment is both passionate and personal. We are launching the programme in Ghana early in 2003 and we intend to expand to other parts of Africa very soon.
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Complinet Human Resources (UK)
February, 2003

'Ex-HR practitioner launches innovative new scheme for overseas secondments'
Gwen Thomas

Employers wishing to reward or retain staff, without the option of a promotion or more lucrative package, may find the answer in a new scheme that seconds employees to developing countries for short-term assignments.

Interims for Development is the brainchild of Frances Williams, an HR practitioner with a financial services background including posts at Barings Securities and Enron.

Under the scheme, UK companies sponsor an employee to work for an African company for one month in an advisory capacity.

Williams was born in Ghana and recently spent six years there setting up HR departments at two different banks and running her own career management consultancy.

"The experience of the two banks could not have been more different. While one was bureaucratic and paper-based with very little in the way of IT, the other used technologically advanced banking systems and answered to international shareholders," she told Complinet. Both were in real contrast to the operational HR roles Williams held in the UK.

The experience challenged her personal assumptions about working in third-world countries. "There is a dichotomy between the much-publicised poverty and the plethora of over-educated people. We rarely hear about urban or professional Africa."

Second degrees are commonplace in Ghana, but it is difficult to develop employees professionally without the necessary infrastructures in place, she explained. The real problem is accessing good quality training.

Williams is not aware of any similar schemes for UK employees. Although charitable organisations send volunteers to Africa, the projects tend to be concerned with poverty alleviation, primarily in rural areas.

Williams stressed that it is not an exercise in "educating the natives", but more about sharing experiences to the benefit of both parties. Participant employees will need to be open-minded, adaptable and able to work with what is available — not what they are used to.

They will be assigned a specific project with clear objectives and measurable outcomes and will be monitored by the organisers mid-way through the month-long project. All parties will receive feedback on completion of the assignment.

These interim assignments are an ideal way for employers to promote diversity, to raise cultural awareness and break down barriers, Williams said. Rather than stay in expat-friendly hotels, participants will be matched up with host families to give them a taste of local culture.

The sponsoring company is required to pay a fee to cover expenses but the scheme is open across sectors to any professional with a minimum of five years' experience.

Organisations unable to spare an employee for one month are able to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by making a donation to give someone else the opportunity to benefit from the scheme.

This article first appeared on Complinet Human Resources. Complinet Services are available for a free trial via www.complinet.com.

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The Voice (UK) February 17, 2003

‘Apply your skills in Africa’

Paul Macey

Skilled Professionals who want to assist in Africa's development and spent time working abroad can lend their expertise through a new programme launched this month.

The UK-based Interims for Development programme is a drive to recruit volunteers for an exciting new venture designed to help develop skills to support the growth of some of Africa's most fragile economies.

Each year African countries lose thousands of professionals who are lured away by the prospect of better jobs and living conditions in the West. The programme aims to reverse the flow. It will bring valuable skills back into the private and public sectors through short-term assignments by UK-based professionals.

Frances Williams, the programme's Chief Executive, saw the need for such a project while working in the banking sector in Ghana. A key problem she faced was identifying affordable, high-quality training opportunities for staff.

She found that while some companies could afford to send their executives overseas for training, relatively few people got the opportunity to learn the kind of skills to help companies – and eventually economies – grow because of the costs involved.

"We aim to identify people in the UK with professional skills and match them with companies in Africa which have a need for those skills for assignments of between one and three months. What makes this approach different is that the professional who takes the assignment offers his or her expertise freely", she said.

The programme will cover the flights, health and travel insurance, visas of participants and give a modest amount in local currency to help with expenses, while the company in Africa will provide accommodation.

Williams says: "Our key purpose is to provide an affordable option for African companies with limited budgets. So while we levy a fee to the company that is receiving the Interim, we work to keep the fee for our services as low as possible."

"For the volunteer, this is a truly unforgettable cultural experience, with every Interim assigned to a host family to help them to integrate into the community and learn about the local culture."

A number of companies have already expressed an interest in the programme and Interims for Development is appealing to people with relevant skills to register their interest and availability.

Volunteers can be from such sectors as banking and financial services, IT, engineering, human resources, project management, telecoms, education and training. Entrepreneurs with a track record of success in business are also welcome.

Williams is particularly keen to register skilled black and ethnic minority volunteers. “Our communities have a tradition of sharing and helping each other,” she maintains.

"And I know that many of us would be willing to help if we were offered an opportunity. We are also hoping that companies which recognise their civic and social responsibilities will sponsor their employees or, at least, offer them a sabbatical to take up an interim assignment."

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Skills for Business

Interims for Development delivers entrepreneurial business training for returnees to Zimbabwe

News Africa. March 2006

Interims for Development has successfully developed and delivered a 2 day programme in Harare as part of a programme of support to the International Organisation for Migration’s Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP).  The workshop, which forms the first of four to be delivered, is designed to assist recent Zimbabwean returnees with entrepreneurial orientation and training.

The VARRP programme assists returnees with access to education, training, employment or setting up a small business. In this way, individuals are given the tools to rebuild their lives back in their countries of origin and to sustain their return on a long-term basis.

Interims for Development is a UK based company providing a range of Human Resources, Training, Employment and Capacity Building services in the UK and Africa. The company assists private, public and non-governmental sector employers in Africa and the UK through a range of employment and training solutions designed to build management, professional and entrepreneurial skills and to enhance good governance. The company also provides professional Interim Managers for short-term technical, project and training support within Africa. Career Management and Employment Training and coaching services to facilitate professional, entrepreneurial and employment opportunities are offered in the UK for Africans in the Diaspora.

A survey undertaken by the IOM indicated that returnees were often unsure of reintegration activities that would best suit their needs upon return due to the fact that they had spent a considerable time away from their homes, with some returnees expressing the need for business advice to identify their most suitable activity. With high unemployment affecting the identification of jobs, many returnees felt that training further enhanced their chances of getting a job or generating income.

To increase returnees’ knowledge and information, the IOM turned to Interims for Development who developed the ‘Planning and Managing your Business’ training programme held on 8-9th February 2006 in Harare. Dorothy Adebanjo, Interims for Development’s Zimbabwe-based Training Consultant, led the sessions and through workshops, group learning and case studies, provided information and advice on setting up a business, developing a business idea and a basic business plan, identifying sources of finance and resourcing and promoting the business.

The entrepreneurial skills and employment skills training programmes will enable the IOM to provide returnees with a broad range of training designed to provide information, advice and tools for rebuilding their lives and promoting self-sufficiency through entrepreneurial activity. 

Speaking after the programme, Mrs Adebanjo stressed the importance of such training. “Running a business in Africa is a challenge and many people do not know what it takes to run a business and to run it efficiently and professionally. By coming on the course, the participants were equipped with the some of the skills that are needed. Within Africa we really need to be professional and ethical in running our businesses and this programme helps to provide some of the basic financial skills and to highlight the personal qualities needed by an individual to run a successful and professional business.” 

Expressing her satisfaction with the outcome of the programme, Frances Williams, the CEO of Interims for Development, said. “We are delighted that the feedback from this, the first of four programmes, was so positive. Setting up a business is never easy and when you have been away from your home country for some time, it is critical to assess carefully how to enter the market and what you will need to do to sustain your success. This programme offers an excellent opportunity for participants to review their business planning and to share good practice.”

UK Firm Brings Strategic HR Management Course to Lagos

A window of opportunity for HR Managers, Personnel and Development Executives, Employee Relations Personnel and Compensation and Benefits specialist to further home their skills will open in Nigeria on 17th November.

Put together by UK based Regal Exchange, which organised a similar one in Lagos early this year that was very successful, the two-day strategic Human Resource Management seminar seeks to teach participants how to better transform Human Resources from cost to benefit.

According to a statement made available to THIS DAY, the two-day programme is informed by the fact that as markets become more competitive, Han Resources professionals faces new and demanding challenges.

“Privatisation, mergers and acquisitions and trade liberalisation present challenges to the traditional role of the HR professional to become a strategic partner involved in the transformation of the enterprise and contributing to company wide issues - able to initiate policy, manage change and ultimately add value to the business”, the statement said.
Therefore, it added, this comprehensive two day workshop focuses on the key issues relating to the perception, image and actuality of HR in today’s business. The course will enable participants to review the evolving role of HR and what this role now requires in terms of business and people competences, focusing on how to build and negotiate new relationships with staff, line and top management and how to communicate the strategic vision of HR to internal and external stakeholders. Participants will be provided with an opportunity to review the key area of HR actively, and learn to develop strategic approaches to make the HR function an essential partner for organisational success.

With internationally renowned instructor, Mr Vincent Owen, as Course Director, the seminar will focus on shaping the internal profile of HR; achieving recognition in the boardroom, linking HR strategy to business goals; contributing to company-wide issues; managing change; attracting and developing high calibre staff and assessing and rewarding performance

Day one will include Introduction & Overview; and Shaping the Internal Profile of Human Resources, with an in-depth look at:

Delegates will review the approach to change arising from a merger and acquisition scenario and develop appropriate strategies for the application of change management in the workplace.

In a review of the case study, delegates will focus on how to contextualise key HR activities within a holistic and strategic framework

Finally, there will be a session on implementing Strategic HR, which will dwell on;

It will be rounded off with a discussion and review.

Who is Vincent Owen?

Human Resources Management and Training consultant Vincent Owen has over 40 years experience with Standard Chartered Bank. As an experienced professional he has undertaken a number of senior management roles, and has extensive experience of recruitment, assessment centre design, training needs analysis, design and delivery, facilitation and project management. Vincent has worked closely with senior banking executives across the Far East, Asia and Africa His career has ranged from recruiting senior staff to designing induction programmes. He designed and developed a Management Centre in China, has drafted a range of management development programmes and has successfully created and run Assessment and Selection Centres.

Vincent provides Human Resource and Training solutions for international corporations, as a Senior Consultant with Interims for Development, a UK based company providing Human Resources, Training, employment and capacity building services, and has successfully undertaken a number of projects in Europe and Africa

Interims for Development has worked with a number of leading international corporations and agencies including Heineken International, Diageo, CNN/Turner, Guinness, the Fidelity Group and the joint UNDP/UNESCO project providing employment and training solutions designed to build management, leadership and professional skills.
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Black London (UK)

‘Professional Development via Africa’ - May 2002

A new organisation gives professional Black Londoners the chance to support Africa’s business development

Experienced Black professionals are key targets for a new volunteer organisation. Interims for Development is a London based company that matches the skills of professionals in the UK with the technical and training needs of companies in Africa. The Interim – or temporary – assignments range from between one and three months and offer a unique professional and cultural opportunity for those willing to offer their expertise on a voluntary basis.

 

"The skill base of the continent has been badly affected by the large number of professionals leaving Africa for Europe and the USA, not to mention the impact of HIV/AIDS," explains Frances Williams, Chief Executive of the programme. "Our goal with this programme is to offer companies in Africa the expertise and skills they need to grow their businesses, but at a cost they can afford."

Interim volunteers will have their flights; travel and health insurance paid for and be housed in accommodation provided by their host company in Africa. Accommodation is usually in modest Guest Houses or private homes and Interims receive a small local allowance while on assignment. "By keeping our overheads low," says Williams, "we can get high-calibre skills to African companies on a cost-effective basis."

The Interims programme is billed as a 'total cultural experience' and each volunteer is assigned a host family during their assignment to introduce them to local society. For those interested in working internationally, this affords a rare opportunity to create new networks for future business.

The emphasis is firmly on 'sharing' skills, not imparting knowledge and Williams is adamant that the programme does not intend imposing Western solutions on African challenges. Having worked in Ghana for several years as the Human Resources Director of a major bank, she and her colleagues who manage the Interims programme have firsthand knowledge of African organisational needs.

"Africa is blessed with many talented and competent professionals and it is not our role to dictate how things should be done," she says firmly. "Interims go on assignment as much to learn as to offer the expertise they have gained from their own environments. We look for people who are adaptable and able to think 'outside the box' to deliver solutions that not only work but are appropriate and sustainable."

Interims for Development is currently registering volunteers for its database and is particularly keen to attract Black and ethnic minorities with experience in financial services, IT, Accounting, HR and Training, Project Management, Engineering, Marketing and other professional areas.
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If you have always wanted a chance to see what life is really like in Africa and you have professional skills that you can share, the newly launched Interims for Development programme might be right up your street.

Frances Williams, a Human Resources Consultant who spent several years working in Ghana, set up the programme as a means of helping African countries with their skills training and capacity building objectives.

"We believe that the most effective and sustainable way for Africa to move forward is to develop the wealth of talent and human resources on the continent," explains Mrs. Williams who, as Chief Executive of the organisation, is leading the drive to raise awareness of the programme.

"The role that the Interims programme plays is to identify people here in the UK with the kinds of skills that are not so readily available in Africa and to match them to companies who have a need for those skills through short-term assignments of between one and three months."

Going on an Interim assignment is not a glorified holiday, as she was quick to point out. "All our Interims go as volunteers and we cover their flights, health and travel insurance, visas and moderate living expenses while they are on assignment,"

"Our purpose is to provide an affordable option for African companies with limited budgets. That means keeping the fee that we charge to companies for our services as low as possible, which means no first class travel or five-star hotels. However, during the assignment, the African Host Company provides modest accommodation and each Interim is assigned a Host Family to introduce them to local life and help them integrate quickly into the community," says Frances.

The organisation is particularly keen to register British professionals of African, Caribbean or other ethnic minority origin as Interims.

Mrs. Williams says: "I frequently come across people who would like to do something to help Africa but don't know how to go about it. There are also those who want to move to Africa but who wonder whether they have what it takes to live and work there. This programme offers a chance for people who have the kind of skills that are in demand to test the waters to see if a permanent move is the right option for them."

Volunteering has long been a feature of African, Caribbean and other ethnic minority cultures, where assisting the more vulnerable members of our communities is seen as a natural part of our tradition. It is this tradition that the Interims for Development programme is targeting in its efforts to assist poorer countries to acquire the necessary skills and technological development to compete in the global market.

"As Black and ethnic minority British, because of our family backgrounds we are more likely than others to have a deeper cultural understanding and sensitivity to working within an African organisation," adds Mrs. Williams.

So whether you are a qualified teacher, trainer, accountant, engineer, IT specialist or health professional, whether you have built a successful business or have experience of working for international banks or companies, Interims for Development wants to hear from you.

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London Extra (UK)

‘International Development through Ethnic Partnership’January 16-22, 2003

Launch of this new organisation gives Black British professionals a chance to share their skills in Africa, says Barbara Campbell

The Minister of Private Sector Development, Mr. Kwamena Bartels, has underscored the negative impact of the brain drain on the development of the private sector in the country.

Mr. Bartels said Ghana is one of the countries with the largest migratory flow involving some of the best trained professionals to Europe and North America.

Speaking at the launch of a new business initiative, known as Interims for Development in Accra, the Minister said while ways are being explored to address the problem of brain drain, the government will welcome and support any initiative that aims at providing ways of tapping the knowledge and expertise of such professionals.

Interims for Development seeks to tap the skills and expertise of professionals abroad in a wide range of areas to assist in the training and development of both the private and public sectors in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

A former President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Kwame Donkoh-Fordwor, said the need for skills in new technologies in business products and services is critical for any sustained economic growth and development.

He, however, said the economic and work conditions in the country are not attractive enough to entice professionals who have migrated to developed countries to come back home, adding that the Interims for Development programme will serve as a platform for African professionals abroad to contribute to the development process home.

He advised such professionals that by contributing to the development of their countries and the continent, they will help to raise their own sense of value and personal dignity as Ghanaians and Africans.

The Chief Executive of Interims for Development, Ms. Frances Williams, said she was motivated to start the initiative because of the scarcity of expertise in Africa, adding that 40 per cent of all professionals in Africa are working in advanced countries.
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