Where in Mozambique are your business centers located, and what services do you offer?
At this stage we have facilities in Pemba and Beira as well as at five different locations in Maputo.
We are also looking to enter Nacala, Tete, and Nampula within the next two years due to the expected growth driven potential of major gas finds there. In terms of services, we offer a complete package for an office including reception, internet, and furniture. The concept is that we offer a “plug-in" office, meaning that the client arrives and can get to work right away, which decreases risk. For example, a new client in Mozambique might grow briskly at first, yet have a project that does not ultimately succeed. If the client were to choose a more traditional solution, it would not be as easy as it would have involved a longer-term commitment. Our price policy, then, is based on competing with the traditional solution. We also make it easier because we have the services and manage the entire office, whereby it is easier for a client to deal with one invoice, instead of many.
How many clients do you work with at the moment?
We have around 120 clients in total. We have a number of business centers that are currently at capacity, while space remains in others. In Maputo we are at about 80% capacity.
What is the profile of your clients?
Usually, we have international companies that are starting operations in Mozambique, although we also accommodate three chambers of commerce. Portugal, Kenya, Nigeria, Dubai, Japan, and Brazil are some of the most common nationalities that we cater to. It is slower for local companies, the main reason being the limited number of local companies starting out in Mozambique. We have made a considerable effort to increase the number of local startups at our business centers through partnerships with the Ministry of Science and Technology and IPEME.
How would you characterize BPartner's role in facilitating business networking in the country?
It is all about service, and we have frequently organized networking opportunities through what we like to call “Business Strengths with Drinks" events. Over the past two years we have invited several known Mozambican business figures to address our events, and meanwhile, networking naturally occurs within business centers.
What are some of the main characteristics that set you apart from your competitors?
Our greatest advantage is our provision of national representation. A client of ours can use our private offices in Beira if expanding from Maputo and has several meeting rooms available for use. There are also work stations, or even a private office, which can be used for a specific period of time. That is definitely an advantage for us, because in Mozambique having a relational market means being present. When pursuing a client in Pemba, one of the first things they will ask you is where your local office is located.
What can the government do to support entrepreneurship in this new era?
One of the greatest weaknesses for startups in Mozambique is finance—this is not an issue for an international company and obtaining financing from outside Mozambique at a rate of 3%. But a Mozambican company can only obtain financing from within the country itself at a high rate of 21%. If you have a good project, there are a lot of commercial banks available, but due to prevailing rates this remains a weakness.
What are the main advantages of a virtual office?
A virtual office means that you do not have a designated office space. We provide everything from a secretary to a meeting room, and depending on the package, you have certain hours of work station time, or a private office if required. Some people do a large portion of their work beyond the office. For instance a salesman who does not need an office all of the time, because he is out visiting clients everyday may on occasion need to receive clients, or use a meeting room.