Two well-known lawyers on the African scene, Steven De Backer and Olivier Binyingo, recently launched Afriwise consult (http://www.afriwise.com) to offer clients a more holistic consulting approach and access to genuine on-the-ground expertise in Sub Saharan Africa, with procedures for quality assurance and a strong underlying ethical culture. Having worked together for a number of years, both as local and regional counsel on the African continent, they recognized the opportunity for a different kind of professional services firm.
Afriwise is launching a groundbreaking consulting model for Africa, designed to assist clients with advice that is genuinely tailored to situations and local environments in African countries, through collaboration between the best African experts.
Afriwise consult provides one point of contact for private and public organizations that need legal, tax, transaction, risk and management consulting services in Sub Saharan Africa and teams up with the right professionals to deliver solutions that work.
Africa’s rapid growth has captured the world’s attention, triggering unprecedented business interest and investment. Sub Saharan Africa is now perceived to be one of the world’s greatest opportunities for corporate expansion. At the same time not all the countries are moving at the same pace and Africa remains a diverse and complex continent, with different countries presenting different challenges and obstacles.
Afriwise consult is dedicated to helping organizations navigate through these increasingly complex legal, regulatory, tax and socio-economic environments in Sub Saharan Africa. For that purpose it has constituted a core team of experienced Sub Saharan Africa focused consultants with diverse skills and expertise across a broad range of industries. The team comprises business lawyers, tax advisers, risk advisers and management consultants.
“Traditional solutions often don’t work in African markets” says Olivier Binyingo. “There is a need for flexibility and creativity when tackling country specific challenges, which calls for an interdisciplinary approach. With Afriwise, we try to break free from silo thinking. Taking into account the different angles to a project or a transaction from the outset, in an integrated way, saves time and costs to clients.”
In addition to its own core team of consultants, Afriwise created the Afriwise community which brings together top in-country professionals with diverse skills and expertise throughout Sub Saharan Africa. The careful identification and selection of the right local experts and advisers as members of the Afriwise community is really at the core of Afriwise’s value proposition. The Afriwise community enables the firm to put together tailored teams on each of its clients’ projects and transactions to reflect the required skills and expertise, on-the-ground knowledge and local socio-cultural and language affinity.
As Steven De Backer explains, the idea behind adopting a collaborative consulting model for Africa was developed by the two founders over a long period of time: “Africa is not a country but a continent, home to 54 very different countries. Clients have come to realize that understanding local customs, sensibilities and having access to on-the-ground expertise in the markets in which they operate is key. Various advisory firms are adopting different models to try to cater for that need – from hub offices in key jurisdictions to alliances and networks with local firms – but we don’t believe these strategies will enable them to always include the right local professionals in their clients’ engagements.
These traditional models are too rigorous for African markets; what you want is flexibility and the ability to partner with the right individuals for each assignment. We have been confronted with this throughout our careers and have thought long and hard about the most suitable model to advise clients properly, which lead us eventually to the concept of the Afriwise community.”
“We plan to be quite disruptive to the traditional consulting model”, adds Binyingo. “We are dramatically increasing access to local expertise for clients active in Sub Saharan Africa, in the most affordable and yet integrated way.”
Some of the services Afriwise consult offers include legal and tax advisory, risk advisory and management, transaction advisory, corporate governance consulting and specialist advisory services such as strategic advice around market entry, PPP structuring, stakeholder engagement and assistance with putting in place local partnerships and alliances.
The name Afriwise is a play on streetwise. Being ‘afriwise’ means having the experience, skills and knowledge but also the awareness and resourcefulness required for success in Africa. Afriwise is also based on core values such as integrity and sustainability. “We strive to deliver projects for our clients which generate value for all stakeholders, adhere to ethical principles and demonstrate innovativeness and creativity” notes De Backer. “We encourage everyone with a passion for the African continent to use the #afriwise hashtag on social media to promote ‘afriwise’ solutions and concepts”.