He tells us about his company which is a model of SUBCONTRACTING in the DRC.
M&B. Hello Mr Herve Ngoy, can you introduce yourself?
Hervé Ngoy Kalumba. I am a honorary lawyer and President of the TIAFRICA group, a Congolese global management assistance firm created in 2014. I started my legal career at the end of 1995 and have therefore been practicing this profession for 25 years.
M&B. How was TIAFRICA born?
HNK. I have a real passion for business management, and this passion has become a real expertise over the years. In 2012, we created TIACongo with two partners, but the DRC’s accession to OHADA accounting rules in 2014 forced us to substantially change our business. That’s how TIAFRICA was born, the same year.
M&B. What exactly are the services offered by TIAFRICA?
HNK. We have focused our business on the provision of three core services: finance, assistance and advice to companies; human resources and the social secretariat; legal compliance with company documents.
M&B. And I think I know that things have changed…
HNK. Yes, that’s right. Following strong demand from our clients, who needed officer placement, we created TIA WORK FORCE in 2015. Then, following the creation of the National Order of Chartered Accountants, TIA’s group of chartered accountants set up TIAFRICA FINANCE, a partner company of TIAFRICA but whose majority shareholders are essentially chartered accountants. All these developments have come about as a result of customer requests or changes in legislation, as I said, but also because we have realized that we need to professionalize the different areas in which we operate.
M&B. TIA is also a real collective adventure, isn’t it?
HNK. Absolutely, we were able to bring together a number of people around us who have very strong expertise in their respective fields. And everyone contributes to the team effort. Yves Mayaya, in finance, for example, has put together a large team around him, one that is likely to meet all the needs that a company can have in terms of financial management. Marie-Eugénie Bilambo did the same thing with the human resources department and Tity, Kibambe, who helps us grow the business sector, manages all the logistics and compliance aspects, i.e. ensuring compliance with all the Corporation Acts that our clients produce, or when we assist them in creating a company. We ensure that all documents in their possession comply with the law.
M&B. The TIAFRICA Group has partnerships with companies located in the DRC or elsewhere in Africa?
HNK. Yes, the experience has led us to adapt... You could say survival instinct! For the record, TIA’s business was mainly based here in Katanga in the beginning, and most of our clients were mining companies. When the metals crisis hit in 2015, we realized that our business was very fragile and that we had to be able to expand into other economic areas.
M&B. Is that how you got to Kinshasa?
HNK. I would go as far to say that we fought to be in Kinshasa!
M&B. Why do you say that?
HNK. Because it is a market that is totally different from that of Katanga, or that of the East for that matter, where we have also deployed. In Katanga, we are in the mining sector, but it is a sector that is only linked to copper and cobalt, so it does not suffer the same shocks as in the East, for example, where the stakes are higher for coltan, tin and gold. Two years ago, Kinshasa’s economic activity suffered much more from the political crisis linked to the elections than in the rest of the country…
M&B. And these different contexts have led you to change your strategy?
HNK. Indeed! We told ourselves that if we were to depend essentially on economic weather in the different areas in which we operate, we would one day take the risk of encountering serious difficulties. So we changed our strategy. We went a little out of our comfort zone by starting to assist people who had started in areas of which we had no knowledge. I am thinking, for example, about the digital sector and the financial inclusion of catering. Sectors we had no business activity in.
M&B. And why?
HNK. In fact, most of these people or companies had very promising projects but which unfortunately were blocked due to a lack of funding. Banks required them to provide certain guarantees that they could not give and this hindered their growth. They also needed the dynamism of the TIA group to organize their administration, their finances and their legal situation. Most of these companies that approached us are start-ups. We have therefore chosen to offer them partnerships in exchange for shares in their company. We brought all the expertise we have in the administrative, financial, legal and HR back office. This is how we have supported companies that are in very promising areas of activity.
M&B. That’s in Congo, but you’ve also taken an interest in the foreign market, haven’t you?
HNK. Yes, we already had some contact with Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Rwanda. The original idea was to initiate a dialogue with our colleagues from other countries in order to create a pan-African structure. By the end of the year, TIA will open offices in Côte d’Ivoire, in association with an Ivorian partner, and we should open offices in Ghana and South Africa soon afterwards. We also have a structure linked to TIA in Mauritius.
M&B. President Tshisekedi has been in power for a year, how do you feel about him?
HNK. If he succeeds in fulfilling all the promises he has made: shoring up the economy, fighting corruption, supporting startups, I think we can maintain the hope that things will get better. I believe that the DRC is totally recoverable... Despite the state in which it is currently in! It can even be put back on track in a short period of time, in my opinion. It is true that we need resources, but let’s not forget that the primary Congolese potential is human potential. And if this human potential is well managed, things will recover quickly. Since we started supporting start-ups, we have seen many young people starting businesses. Many need to be encouraged. And if those who govern the country encourage them, they will be fine.
M&B. What kind of encouragement are you thinking about?
HNK. Imagine if one day we had the same taxation as in Mauritius, for example, I assure you that it would encourage people to invest! And we would also probably have many more foreign investors. We are too cut off from the world! Development must come with domestic resources, of course, but it would be a mistake not to neglect external resources. We have to open the door if we want to develop the Congo.