Marcopolis presents the Mozambique Report focused on topics such as investments, doing business, economy and regional integration, featuring interviews with Mozambican leaders. The sectors under review in this issue are agriculture, banking, energy, industry, telecom, IT, tourism, logistics and many more.
Rosânia Pereira da Silva is Executive Director of FUNDE (University Foundation for the Development of Education) and Diretor of UECU (University Extension and Cooperation Unit).
Interview with Rosânia Pereira da Silva, Executive Director of FUNDE (University Foundation for the Development of Education)
Is FUNDE a partner company of Universidade Politécnica?
FUNDE is a self-employed legal body. It’s not dependent of Universidade Politécnica but we do work together. The university is not one of our investors. FUNDE generates its own revenue.
The idea to create FUNDE began upon university discussions. Actually the Dean of the university is also the CEO of FUNDE. There is also a managing body and an executive direction, of which I am a part. We try to identify opportunities and we manage projects, among others.
What is the work of relocation?
We were hired by CDN, a partner company of Vale, to help with family relocations in Nampula. Family relocation is the process of moving families who were domiciled in the places of new constructions, such as the railway, to different places. The railway project goes from Cuamba up to Nacala-Porto. Families that lived in this path needed to be relocated in order to continue the construction. Our aim is to contact the families and to relocate them to a provisory domicile until their new house is build. We are not the ones building the houses, there are constructors to do this, we just manage the process, basically we are the link between these families, CDN and the builders. We try to guarantee that the families accept those houses as being theirs. A few years ago, before this type of relocation processes were being put in place, the families were moved from their houses and when arriving to the new ones built for them, they weren’t sure if those houses were theirs or borrowed from such companies. So what we are trying to do is include families in the construction process of their houses. The company is still the one building the houses but the families get to participate. For example, women are the ones who go get the water, while the site clearance is done by the men, so they can see the building process. Moreover we are working on social programs for families; we teach them how to use the new house, new hygiene methods, etc., since many of these families come from precarious houses where there is no proper bathroom. So we teach them how to make use of these new improvements. We also keep these families under our wings for a period on 1 year, in case they need any sort of help or are have difficulties to adapt. After the establishment of the whole project, we do reports, because our goal is to create a story book of what’s happening now so that in a few years people will understand how this new neighborhood appeared. For us, the relocation is not only the process of removing a family and demolish a house to provide a new one, it’s much more than that. We understand that this will have a social, cultural and economic impact on people’s lives.
Can you adapt this process to other companies besides Vale?
We are already being contacted by other companies who heard about our partnership with Vale and who want to work with us. But we are still in the discussion process, so I'd rather not talk about it for the moment. What I can say is that relocation projects are happening all over the country, because there are big projects coming in to Mozambique, in Pemba, Maputo, Moamba and so on. Companies are now more careful when demolishing entire villages. When I first arrived here, they simply paid people to leave so they could build. But as the social impact increases, companies understand that there are ways of dealing with people, and that they should respect the culture, the traditions, etc. They now want to seat down with people and explain what will happen and why they have to move.
Besides relocation projects, do you work with other big projects?
I believe relocation will be the strong point of our institution and that is why we specialized in conflict management, community relations and currently we are trying to qualify our teams on such matters as well. Consequently I keep believing that this will be our strong key.
What other projects have been growing?
FUNDE is a non-profit body and so our revenue is used to invest in social projects. What we are focusing on now is the projects of qualification in Nampula, Tete, Quelimane and Chimoio.
Alongside with the important projects that we are now seeing happening in Mozambique, there is the need for qualified workforce, and companies spend lots of money on those. Many companies used to hire Mozambicans and send them abroad for them to receive a proper training, but nowadays the companies are seeing it is easier and cheaper to provide them with qualifications in Mozambique, without the need to spend money on travelling, this is why we have been contacted by big companies who want us to provide their teams with the proper qualifications to handle the work offered. Currently we are working on electrician and mechanical courses and also team management, leadership and business management. This means that the growth of a country comes in conjunction with a change and people have to be prepared for it. For example, before in restaurants we could be waiting for a steak with chips for 2 hours and that was OK, but nowadays people realized they need to improve the service for this is no longer OK and so these businesses are hiring qualified people or qualifying their current teams. In hotels, things also changed quite a bit, there is the need for information and qualification, which is a synonym of good quality. Our company is trying to make the country see that even with investments, if there are no qualifications, the investments won’t be successful. That is why our motto is “instruct to develop” because we believe that to be prepared people need to make a change. Concluding, we are not only working on relocation projects but also in social preparation.
Are you only qualifying those who are already working for a company?
We are qualifying those who are working in a company, but in lower positions. The companies want to qualify their employees because this qualification will reflect on the services offered. For example, if I have a housekeeper who can do a bed, but who is taught how to improve the bedroom service quality, I’ll have more clients. Moreover, some companies not only pay us to qualify their employees but also those who leave in close-by communities in order to create awareness.
In the cases where the companies hire you to qualify their employees and surrounding communities concerning social awareness, how does that work? Do you contact them and present the service or do they contact you and ask if that is possible?
Before, we used to contact the companies and present the social awareness project, but nowadays many companies contact us saying they will open a branch somewhere and they’ll need to qualify the close-by communities and consequently their employees. This will help a community to have better restaurants, hotels, etc. The concern of these companies is for the global state of things, because it is much cheaper to prepare that community for the incoming development than have to pay a worker’s round-way trip every day because that place has nothing to offer and he doesn't want to stay there after work. Many companies are trying to create better environments for these projects, allowing better work conditions, which consequently changes communities.
What type of projects need this social awareness qualification?
Mostly the technical, social and service training courses. For example in Mocuba we are working in a project more or less similar to what we have been discussing. There are a few rumors that in a few years this city will be important and developed but the services there are awful and therefore the employees of restaurants, hotels, etc., need to be qualified to improve the services in the area. We are working with mechanics, carpenters, social companies, etc., to assure a global progress. This qualification will bring progresses not only to those who are today the recipients of such qualifications, but also to their children who can someday be sent to university, due to the improvement of their parents and the community.
Which company hired you in Mocuba?
We are working closely with small businesses and we are presenting our services, trying to make them understand there is the need to qualify their employees. Many of them understand such need but sometimes they don’t have the means to pay for such service.
Instead of going to each business can’t you try a global approach at once?
Unfortunately, these are processes which take time and we don’t get an immediate answer so we can’t do that. Currently, we are working with micro-credit institutions and big banks to help the clients of these banks to manage their businesses better. This will help with the risk margin of the bank and with the management of the business itself. We try to provide these clients with small but specific qualifications, without spending much time in a classroom. The courses go from: “how to deal with banks” to “how to know what is revenue and profit”. Some people gave us some positive feedback saying the qualification helped them improve and grow their businesses.
Are the banks open to this training courses idea?
Many banks actually lower their risk margin if the client already took part in one of our qualification courses. The banks know that there is the need to understand what investments are, small businessmen need to understand what a loan means in order to grow profit to repay it, otherwise they will suffer further expenses.
Can you tell us which banks you are working with?
BCI is already working with us. Nosso Banco is also in negotiations with us, and then there are a few others with whom we are still discussing the rates.
Is your institution getting a good revenue?
FUNDE is a non-profit body and so our revenue is used to invest in social projects. What we are focusing on now is the projects of qualification in Nampula, Tete, Quelimane and Chimoio, to qualify the employees of a certain company as well as all those who are working together with the company to accomplish other projects. We are also working with the state to qualify public school managers, public teachers, etc. The Luso-American foundation is also working closely with us, surveying, at a national level, about the way the country is governed; and this project is financed by them, however if there are profits arising from this project they will be invested in future social projects.
You also work with radio and communications right?
Well, yes, but not in a business perspective, rather in a social one. This project called PACTO was created for a specific problem and we are merely one of the partners. Our goal was to create a university radio to discuss health issues. It is a radio station that can change behaviors. For example, we have created a sort of radio drama series to call awareness to diseases such as malaria and AIDS, which are proliferating in the country. Besides this radio drama series, there is a program which gives a few tips, such as learning how to bathe a baby. It was created in a radio format because people can be doing something else and still hearing to the radio, while with TV there is the need to be looking at the image and sometimes there is no time for that. This year we are actually commemorating 3 years for the creation of the radio station and the number of listeners is great, even if our niche is youngsters in college and older people. We can’t however consider this as a source of income, it is a social investment of the university. Even if there are other bodies such as the French Embassy which want to have their contents present in our radio, it is not to be considered as a source of income.
I would also like to discuss the partnership between the public and the private. About 5 years ago, the university and the municipal council of Maputo signed a program where the university would manage 5 public primary schools to change the quality offer of such schools. Let’s take the example of the school 25 de Junho rua 7, which we have been managing for 3 years now. When we first got there, there was not even one table and there were around 1.300 kids seated on the ground. The school hadn’t been upgraded for more than 25 years, the ceilings had many holes and when it rained, they had to stay in a corner or they were sent home for there was no possibility of teaching. After seeing this, we gathered the means to raise money to develop the school and now the school has a good ceiling and a good floor and there are tables for every student. We first took care of the equipment, then when this was settled, we qualified teachers for many of them still worked with teaching methods of 30 years ago, and in a modern world the teaching approaches have to differ to create an attractive environment for the kids. Our goal is for public schools to be as good as private ones. We are also trying to develop culture and sports, among others, while changing mentalities.
In this case, the major investor is the government?
No, the government still pays the teachers and does everything it used to do. What we have done here is to achieve an extra step. We searched for partners to rebuild the school. We created exhibitions where the parents got to show their crafts, which helped to raise money to buy new things for the school.
Are you looking for foreign investors?
Of course. Not only because many of the projects we are working on belong to foreign companies who are investing in Mozambique, but also because many of these organizations have the possibility of financing such projects. That means we are always looking for new financing opportunities.
How do these investments come together?
There are two ways: solicitation, which means we see an opportunity for a company investment and we present them our product. During the pitching, companies come to us and lay out their ideas and what they need, after some discussion they see we are reliable and they decide to work with us. Another method is to apply for tenders. However we believe the best method is still that of solicitation.
Who are those who come looking for you?
Normally they are companies who need employees and communities qualification.
Foreign companies who are based in Mozambique?
Yes. International companies who are investing in Mozambique but that understand that qualified workers are hard to find and therefore they search for us and ask us to qualify the employees instead of sending them abroad.