African Safari


The Malawi Experience

n 20 September, 2004, I went on a business trip to Blantyre, Malawiís main commercial and industrial centre. The flight, which was scheduled to land at 10.20 a.m., reached at 9.45 a.m., much to the surprise of Pankaj Kurjee, owner of M/s. Office Mart, Malawi, who had come to the airport to pick me up.

I was told that the present President, H.E. Bingu wa Mutharika, an economist, has a soft spot for India since he had studied there. This, in turn, had influenced the buying pattern in Malawi. While, earlier, goods from South Africa and Zambia were preferred, there was now a slow wind blowing in favour of Indian products. Along with Kurjee, I visited different segments to study the market. We generated inquiries for locks, filing cabinets, storage systems and refrigerators, as well as Security Equipment products.

I found the people of Malawi extremely polite and gracious. In greeting, they join their left hand to their right before shaking hands with others. While in church, I was greeted in this manner by another person attending the service. After the service, he gave me a lift to my hotel in his car. To my amazement, I later learnt that he was a High Court Judge, Hon. Justice George M. Chimasula Phiri. He later picked me up from my hotel and treated me to a sumptuous dinner and dropped me back to the hotel. Thatís Malawi and Malawian culture for you!



Highlights of Malawi

alawi is a landlocked country, which is bordered to the north and northeast by Tanzania, to the east, south and southwest by Mozambique and to the west by Zambia. The country, which was earlier known as Nyasaland, got its independence from the British on 6 July, 1964. The official languages are English and Chichewa but, regionally, other languages are considered important. According to the July 2004 census, the population here is around 1,906,855. The economy is predominantly agricultural, with about 90 per cent of the population living in rural areas.

Tobacco, tea and sugar are the main exports. Tourism is rated fourth as a foreign exchange earner. Malawi exports goods to South Africa, the U.S., Germany, Egypt, Portugal, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia, and imports from South Africa, Zambia and India. There are a number of ethnic groups here, which include the Chewa, the Nyanja, the Tumbuka, the Yao, the Lomwe, the Sena, the Tonga, the Ngoni and the Ngonde, apart from Asians and Europeans. A majority of the people here are Christians (55 per cent Protestant and 20 per cent Roman Catholic). Muslims form 20 per cent of the minority, while 3 per cent of the population follow indigenous beliefs and another 2 per cent are of other religions.

The Malawian flag has three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centred in the black band. The winters, between May and October, are dry, with intermittent rainfall during the rest of the year.


From left: Minoo S. Panthaki, Senior Manager (Exports), Locks Division, Chaganbhai Patel and Ramesh Sutar, Contractors to the Oshwal Academy, Dhiresh Gudka, Manager, Nemchand Anand & Co., Patrick Martins, Architect, Titus Kipsang, Project Manager, and Fredrick Correa, Senior Market Manager, Godrej, Kenya.

One of the Godrej Ultra mortise lock sets installed at the Oshwal Academy.

Godrej Locks ó Yehi Hai Right ChoiceÖ

inoo S. Panthaki, Senior Manager (Exports), Locks Division, was in Kenya recently to promote Godrej locks. During his trip, we met our dealer in Nairobi and also visited our new dealer in Mombasa.

According to M/s. Nemchand Anand & Co., our dealer in Mombasa, our locks were well accepted in the market. We also visited one of our main customers, Oshwal Academy, a school with more than 800 students. The school wanted to purchase approximately 240 locks with handles. Their architect, Patrick Martins, wanted the best locks for the doors. After rejecting other brands, including the popular Union brand of locks, he chose the Godrej Ultra mortise lock with computerised, reversible and dimpled nickel silver Ultra keys. He personally checked our lock, and immediately approved of it. The contractor and others were surprised that India could manufacture such high-quality locks.

We then visited a few prospective retailers along with Dhiresh Gudka, Manager, M/s. Nemchand Anand & Co., and showed them samples of our locks and gave them the price list. One of them remarked that it would be a privilege to promote Godrej locks, which were excellent value for money. Another retailer, when checking the locks, asked, "Where were you all these years?"

Thatís a question that all of us in Godrej will have to jointly answer!

Good Business Prospects

n 11 October, 2004, I took a flight to Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. Jean-Jacques JULLIENNE, Directeur General, Triumph International (the company that markets Godrej forklifts), had come to pick me up at the airport.

JULLIENNE introduced me to various customers, including those in supermarkets, furniture dealers, locks dealers, garment factories and petrol pumps. We discussed and presented Godrej products to the clients. There was a positive response for Indian products in general and Godrej products in particular. Our products were further boosted when Benoit Lamusse, Managing Director, Mascatrans, Mauritius, the sister concern of Triumph International, spoke highly of Godrej products, and also sent an inquiry for our Storage Solutions products.

It was a fruitful trip. Madagascar is truly beautiful. I returned to Nairobi on 18 October, 2004 with happy memories and, of course, several business prospects for our products. I wish to thank Jean-Jacques JULLIENNE for all the support and help extended to me in Madagascar.

Fredrick Correa
Godrej, Kenya