The Businesspersons Guide to Pambazuka, 2091 Edition, Bank of Pambazuka
Pan-Africa! At over 850 million people, the Phyle of Pambazuka can seem intimidating to average businessperson. Many media outlets and bigger corporations would like to portray us as hostile to business or a closed market. This is a myth. The people and the phyle of Pambazuka and before that, Pan-Africa are were some of the first to embrace mobile telecommunications, renewable energy and digital cash in the late 20th and early 21st Century. The people of this Phyle, along with the firms, local and canton governments and non government organization are known for their hospitality and savvy commercial skills. This guide is to prepare you should you choose to invest in this Phyle.
Rule Number One: Know your area. While this guide can help you and there are Terabytes of information online the best way to know your area is by visiting. Human intelligence is still the most valuable tool for your company. We recommend you visiting an area several times before you talk about investing. Hiring a local guide to show you the Commune or Canton you are interested in is a wise investment. The local phyle or local BPZ branch will have a list of trusted guides and firms to recommend to you. Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for tours of different areas! Your guide works for you and with you.
Rule Number Two: Working with the locals. Once you have surveyed an area or business to invest in, have you thought about partnering with a local firm? Many Communes and Cantons have a long relationship with local businesses and business people and may be hesitant to shop or place orders from a 'foreign firm'. They have see unscrupulous businesses and business people come and go taking valuable resources and capitals and leaving little in return. Familial and community relations are important. However, a firm that shows it is interested in growing the local economy and community can gain a level of trust. Also, many local firms and business people can have access to informal networks of family, friends and associates for capital and information, so building a relationship can bring massive benefits.
Rule Number Three: Who owns what? One of the more popular myths is the Pambazuka does not allow private land ownership. On one hand this is true since our history has been one of abuse from foreign companies and colonial governments. All land in the phyle is owned by the people. On the other hand however, a private firm can lease the use of land for commercial purposes. A company would need to file a form with the Ministry of Commerce, which handles commercial affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, which is responsible for environmental stewardship and cleanup. This form would need to be included with a business or investment plan and detail what the area is to be used for, how any waste is to be disposed and any long term effects on humans and the environment. This permit is good up to ten years and can be renewed after a inspection by the Canton government. Warning: Your business/investment plans and environmental plans must be kept up to date for any inspections which can occur at any time. Failure to do so can lead to a revocation of the permit and possible business closure.
Rule Number Four: The cost of business. Since the land is owned by the phyle, how does the phyle government collect fees to run its day to day operations? The answer is user fees. A company that has leased an area from the phyle may pay a fee to extract resources whether biological or mineral. A transportation company pays fees to have goods shipped through a port, railway or roadway. A telecommunications company would pay costs for electricity used and so on. These fees are calculated based on usage and are available for review through your local commune or canton websites. How you pay the fees can vary. A company may donate some goods to the local commune or canton for a credit, they may simply pay the fee or they may perform community service. Community Service can vary from cleaning up a former industrial site, to providing materials or time to assist a approved non-governmental organization. Your local Commune/Canton can provide you a list. You local Commune or Canton offices will also be the ones who issue any business permits and are responsible for local services. Establish a relationship with them!
Rule Number Five: The shape of business. So what does your competition look like and how do they operate? The smallest business is the private or family firm. This firm's size can range from one person up to one hundred people. Most of the biggest commercial names in the phyle once started as one man or one family businesses. They can range from corner shops to transportation firms to retailers and restaurants. Do not let the small size trick you! These companies are quick adapters of the newest technologies and trends and posses excellent information and family networks. They are sometimes short on capital and riddled with factionalism so a investor can take advantage of this.
The next size up is the co-operative firm. This local firm can range from a hundred to over ten thousand employees. This firm is owned by its employees who share in the decisions and reap the rewards in the form of dividends or discounts in company services and goods. Employees and executives are motivated since they are owners of the company. However, this sometimes means that the co-op lacks a long term vision and also has factions which can stymie growth.
The next grade up is the partnership co-operative which is the one you may be interested in. Similar to a local co-operative the employees and executives receive stock in the company and share in the decisions and benefits. You as an investor receive shares and your views are just as valid as the employees and executives and you receive the same dividends and benefits that they do. Unlike the traditional co-op there is no size limit on the number of employees and dividends can be exported overseas. However, foreign ownership, that is ownership by people and companies outside the phyle is capped at 40%. According to the Ministry of Commerce, companies must be headquartered in the phyle and must do over fifty percent of its business in the phyle to count as local.
The final grade is the Public-Private Partnership. This is like the previous two co-operatives but now the phyle owns a portion of the firm, usually five to twenty percent. These firms are considered a strategic industry like Power Generation-Distribution, Defense, Continental Transportation, Telecommunications and Banking. The rules are the same as the first two co-operatives but they will have a representative or representative from the Ministry of Commerce at every meeting. This representative will have access to and detailed knowledge of the firm and should be considered the same as a senior executive. To be a Senior Representative entails a large amount of responsibility and power and so the Representative has been fully investigated and trusted by the national phyle. The Representative has the same amount of power as any other stockholder and is their mostly as an observer and guardian of the public trust. However, once they speak people listen since this is an older person of many years of experience. The only factor than can restrict growth is a hesitancy to invest in new technologies or markets. If you plan to do business with them, be prepared for tough and detailed questions.
We at the Bank of Pambazuka are also available for information about local conditions, your questions and to assist you with you business. We have physical and electronic branches located across the globe and are available 24 hours a day 7 days a days a week barring local holidays. Thank you for your time and welcome to Africa!