MAKING IT HAPPEN

Mozambique 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jorge Mondlane, President & CEO of FirstMetical, on the up-and-coming private sector in Mozambique, tough challenges facing startups, and mobilizing the youth in the country.

Jorge Mondlane
BIOGRAPHY
Jorge Mondlane graduated in business management from Eduardo Mondlane University in 2004 and obtained a post graduate degree in Global Business Management from the INDEG-ISCTE Business School in Lisbon in 2006/2007, and a specialization in project finance for oil and gas, power, mining, and transport and logistics infrastructure projects from the Euromoney Academy in Johannesburg in 2011. After several years acting as a senior financial, strategic, and management consultant, he established FirstMetical to lead finance and investment consulting services in Mozambique. Mondlane is also the Founder, President, and CEO of Centavo Software, SA, an IT services provider. He is an active member of AMECON, OCAM, and Colégio de Contabilistas.

Which sectors can benefit the most from your expertise?

The main sectors benefiting from FirstMetical's services are the strategic sectors of the Mozambican economy: energy; infrastructure; transportation and logistics; oil and gas; as well as SMEs. We focus on bridging strategic projects to develop the Mozambican economy and the main financial markets as well as FDI. We assist SMEs to establish strategic partnerships with companies with a global action, thereby allowing the viability of their investment projects.

How do the needs of private-sector clients differ from those of the public sector and the government?

The private sector is still relatively undeveloped for various reasons, one of which is related to the difficulties of accessing finance and the low capitalization of SMEs. Almost all the private-sector firms have the state or public enterprises as their main customers. Private intra-business is almost nonexistent and the state is the largest purchaser of goods and services. However, the Mozambican economy has registered growth in the last 10 years and shows signs that the private sector could develop quickly, which can stimulate private intra business. Another issue is the lack of trust and information asymmetries. Service providers have greater confidence in state institutions, even though there is a delay with respect to the payment process—“state delays, but always pays.” We would like to see a more robust Mozambican economy whereby the private sector is the driver market, as in South Africa.

As a young company, how would you rate the overall environment for startups in the country?

It is great that the Mozambican economy has been growing at an accelerated pace of 7-8% in the last decade, which is above the average for sub-Saharan Africa, a situation that has been accompanied by the emergence of small- and medium-sized enterprises, even if progress is still slow. However, the business environment for startups is still tough as many entrepreneurs have great difficulties in terms of access to finance. The lack of venture capital institutions is one of the main barriers to SME development. The requirements for commercial banks to grant credit do not facilitate the development of SMEs or startups; everything revolves around collateral.

What is your midterm outlook for the local economy?

In the midterm the Mozambican economy will register significant growth linked to large investments taking place in energy, infrastructure, oil and gas, and mining. But it is important to continue to improve the business environment through extensive reforms, particularly with regard to the licensing of companies, the capitalization of SMEs, and ensuring a climate of peace where all are called to contribute to the development of the country. I hope there is a mobilization of the population, especially the young, to invest in the real economy, or productive sector, beyond the widespread perception that most entrepreneurs only bet on providing services or supplying goods to the public sector. It is important and urgent to mobilize young people around agriculture and livestock production to make the country less dependent on imports of basic products such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and meat.

What are your main targets and expectations for the year ahead?

The main objective of FirstMetical for 2016 is to consolidate its position as a company of excellence in the Mozambican market, and for regional and global action through strategic partnerships. We want to position ourselves as a leading business advisory service provider in Mozambique focused on corporate financial consulting, strategic investments, and corporate transactions. We expect the country to grow and the planned investments in the sectors of natural resources, including oil and gas, mining, energy, and transport and logistics infrastructure, to be implemented in the medium term. We want the market to view FirstMetical as a company committed to helping customers achieve excellence and competitiveness in their business, thus contributing to the growth and development of the Mozambican economy.