Jaap started at Jordex as Business Development Director Europe Middle East & Africa (EMEA) in April. He is expanding our activities in one of world’s fastest growing emerging markets, Africa. Jaap analyses the market , translates his knowledge and experience to new business and supports management.
After I visited Africa for a carrier who I back then represented, I was hooked on immediately. During my first trip to Africa I visited Cameroun and Ghana, and I did not know a lot about Africa, but after this trip Africa got a hold on me. Besides all the business opportunities, it are the people of Africa who make this continent so special.
Despite the fact that there is a wide variety in population, they have some things in common; their open personality, the hospitality which wraps around you like a warm blanket and the joy they have. Africa has a rich culture, of which we, as western people, are not always familiar with. This can cause misunderstandings.
I can still remember my first time in Nigeria vividly. Accompanied by a somewhat younger French colleague, I went on a company visit to an importer of car-maintenance products. Despite the fact that my colleague spoke the language and had a similar job title, the customer was only focusing on me. The introduction talks completely went past him. When we arrived at management, in order to come to business, all the attention was still focused on me.
Afterwards it turned out that seniority plays a very important role within this culture. In Africa, seniority brings wisdom. Out of politeness people will always focus on the eldest within the group, only when he or she involves the younger person within the conversation, there will be direct communication with this person.