Engineering a strategy for success in the African market

For Diemo Honore, Chief Executive Officer of Kamit Group, strategy and success go hand in hand. An Edmonton‑based engineering and construction company, Kamit Group is expanding its reach and expertise into African countries with the help of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and its partner organizations Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

Kamit Group’s relationship with these organizations includes its participation in the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), where the company honed its planning expertise, and learned how to mitigate the challenges and risks of overseas expansion. Next came a visit to several African countries of interest including Uganda, Kenya and Burkina Faso, where, with the support of local Trade Commissioners, the company was invited to participate in several tenders.

In addition, Kamit Group received $25,000 in funding from the TCS’s CanExport program. Honore describes the need to strategically use that grant to support market expansion. “When you take that opening and get out and try, and break that barrier, it’s one of the best things a company can do,” he says.

With initial plans to expand into West Africa, Honore quickly realized that Kamit Group was better suited to do business in East African countries, citing better communication with contacts in English‑speaking countries, and more appropriate infrastructure and banking systems for its needs.

Diemo Honore
Diemo Honore, Chief Executive Officer of Kamit Group

Recognizing Kamit Group’s pivot, Trade Commissioner Arbinder Pal echoes the words of business academic Michael Porter, emphasizing that “…the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. And Kamit actually did that.” Pal, who covers the infrastructure sector in the TCS’s Alberta and Northwest Territories regional office, further highlights Kamit Group’s winning strategy that was defined early on. “They carefully defined their target market and then directed their offerings and solutions to that market. It’s something that was very well received by the TCS because it shows that the company has been thinking through what they want to do and that their capabilities are in demand, and where they would be willing to invest their time and energy.”

Kamit Group has since kept the TCS engaged and impressed by their level of judgement, and their marketing strategies.

“Kamit had this perfect marriage between what the marketing world defines as success, and what the strategy world defines as success” says Pal. “That’s what caught the TCS’s eye, and that’s what keeps us engaged, even to this day. And it’s great to see that the strategy has led them to quite a few successes.”

Since the start of its partnership with the TCS, Kamit Group has opened two new offices in Kenya and Uganda, secured three projects, and is in the process of acquiring yet another large project. Kamit Group has also grown its employee base to boast equal numbers of employees on Canadian soil and abroad.

Arbinder Pal
Arbinder Pal, Trade Commissioner in the TCS’s Alberta and Northwest Territories regional office

As benchmarks for progress, Pal notes that “every new office, every new project, is definitely a benefit that comes back to Canada, be it in revenues, be it in profits, or in terms of employment.” Similarly, Honore measures Kamit Group’s success in increased opportunities to hire employees, along with partnering with other companies to expand its reach and level of service. He encourages other entrepreneurs to use the free services of the TCS.

“As a Canadian company, we are very fortunate to have a Trade Commissioner free of charge made available and willing to help any time.”

Honore recognizes, however, that his business’s success did not come easily. “It won’t happen overnight. You really have to work for it. It takes years, it takes time to build up that relationship.”

What does the future look like for Kamit Group? The company plans to expand into the manufacturing sector in the next two to three years, and, as long‑term goals, Honore hopes to increase the number of offices in Africa to 25, and the total number of employees to more than 1,000 within 10 years. Plans to eventually develop business opportunities in the Middle East mean that for Honore, Kamit Group’s partnership with the TCS is far from over.

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