“While our business is not isolated to mining, we do put a lot of emphasis on the mining sector – especially on the relationship between mining companies and local communities. We seek not only to assist our clients in increasing their profits and efficiency, but also to empower local communities.”
Can you please tell us about ITM’s journey since its founding almost a decade ago?
Founded in 2011, ITM Africa started as a training and personnel management company. The quality of our services led to rapidly increasing demand, and since 2016 the company has expanded from DRC to South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, Angola, Tanzania and Germany. While ITM still labels itself as a training and management company, the range of our services has expanded in pace with our geographical growth and today includes services such as recruitment, payroll management, technical and leadership training, supply chain management as well as sales and distribution solutions. We provide assistance to already established companies as well as international entities looking to move into hard-to-navigate countries such as the DRC. The countries into which we have expanded were chosen based on our clients’ need for our services. For example, Angola has both vast mineral and oil assets but has experienced an extensive period of civil war that has undermined the education level in the country. ITM fills the function of bridging that gap. South Africa, on the other hand, made sense to us due to its central position in the African mining space, with much of the specialized skills radiating from there. We draw on South African expertise both for recruitment and training purposes. If one of our clients has a need for specialized skills, we can either acquire staff from South Africa or arrange qualified trainers from there. In addition, we have established a number of partnerships with South African training centers.
In which of your existing countries of operation do you see the most opportunity for growth?
One might say that wherever there are issues to be solved we see an opportunity. DRC is certainly a country where services are much needed due to the financial situation and the complex legal as well as tax systems. However, as all our countries of operation have their own set of challenges, we see varying opportunities for growth depending on what service is needed. We have learned from experience that one of the best ways to offer the best possible service is to tailor each solution not only to the client but also the country in which they operate. You cannot simply copy-paste a solution from one region onto another, but rather you need to make a comprehensive study of each given destination and situation.
The DRC’s recently modified mining code makes demands for local hiring but acquiring the right skills can be challenging. What is ITM’s approach?
ITM has created an extensive database from which we can source the relevant skills. When a client needs a specific skillset, we quickly put together a list of suitable candidates based on very precise profiling. The second step is to provide the adequate training for which our South African office is very helpful. Many of our employees are already certified across a range of specialties and sectors, but should it be needed we can reach out to our partners who are readily available to reinforce our expertise.
Over the last decade, Chinese influence has been growing rapidly across Africa and thereby the need for bridging the gap between the continents. Do you, for example, have Chinese speakers on your team?
We are currently working on increasing our capabilities in that regard. However, there is a need for more than just a translator as there is also a cultural gap to bridge. The code of conduct for business among Chinese entities often varies from any given African country. Thus, our aim is to ensure that potential recruits or partners live up to our standards of quality.
What is your strategy in the DRC?
While our business is not isolated to mining, we do put a lot of emphasis on the mining sector – especially on the relationship between mining companies and local communities. We seek not only to assist our clients in increasing their profits and efficiency, but also to empower local communities. The goal is to ensure that a mining operation transforms the local population into self-sufficient and qualified professionals. In this way, the mining sector and the population of the DRC can grow in tandem. In addition, we see opportunity in feasibility consultancy as design flaws currently constitute a major challenge for companies.
Do you have a final message for our international readership?
Our goal at ITM is to improve and optimize our business solutions continually and align them with market demands across the countries where we operate. We also seek to go beyond what is usually the norm by offering personalized, 24/7 service. There are few other companies that if a client picks up the phone at five in the morning will rush to the mine site to solve any problem at hand, and our current clients can testify to this commitment. What we always seek is to have a partner relationship rather than just a client.