Manuel Keller, Project Lead at the Nunatak is a manager without borders

Nunatak has been a strategic partner of the foundation Managers Without Borders for almost a year. The foundation organises project consulting with managers from German and other European businesses for partner companies in developing countries with a focus on Africa. Manuel Keller, Project Lead at The Nunatak Group, spent two weeks in Uganda’s capital Kampala and helped Managers Without Borders set up a BusinessHUB. In an interview, he revealed what this was all about and which tasks Manuel had to support. 

Can you briefly explain to us what Managers Without Borders are?

Managers Without Borders is a non-profit foundation from Stuttgart that was founded by Helene Prölß. The focus is on local support of business build up with a focus on African countries, which provides economical support with focus on start-ups and SMEs to develop independently. All in the spirit of “helping people to help themselves”.

Experts and managers act as Managers Without Borders in countries such as Uganda to contribute their know-how in the fields of business start-ups, management, or marketing to local companies. The first step is to collaboratively identify existing business pain points. The managers then accompany the companies over a period of four to twelve weeks to identify improvement potential. Entrepreneurs who, for example, have only dealt with financial planning to a limited extent will be trained accordingly in order to be able to operate better and more sustainably in the future.

 

How did The Nunatak Group become involved with Managers Without Borders?

At The Nunatak Group, we are very committed to corporate social responsibility. My colleague Maximilian Wäger, who accompanied a project for Managers Without Borders in Tanzania after graduation, established the contact. That’s why we are now supporting the foundation on a voluntary basis, optimising its internal structures and processes, or supporting it in marketing campaigns. It also quickly became clear that it was a huge challenge for the organisation to manage their worldwide projects from Germany. Together, we have therefore developed a concept for setting up a BusinessHUB that will enable partners to reach the foundation directly on site in the future.

What exactly is the BusinessHUB all about?

The BusinessHUB is a branch of Managers Without Borders with one permanent employee. The employee will coordinate the project for the foundation and act as a contact person for local companies. As the local employee himself becomes part of the project planning process, his consulting competence, therefore, will also be strengthened. With the BusinessHUB we take the work of the foundation to a new level. Local companies now have the opportunity to discuss their ideas and hurdles directly with an employee and act more quickly. This way, projects can be managed more purposefully and individually. In Kampala, the former project partner AptechAfrica provided us with a free workroom for this purpose.

What tasks were assigned to you on site?

My goal was to find out whether such a BusinessHUB is feasible and how it should be set up and organised. I talked to countless former and potential project partners, the German Embassy and local organisations. This also allowed me to determine what skills and qualifications the local project coordinator should have and what expectations the partners have of the hub itself.

In addition, I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge directly on site at a solar company as part of an Excel workshop. It was really nice to see that you can achieve a lot with short training sessions and simple help.

How did they react to your concept on site?

The reactions were consistently positive. In all the conversations I was repeatedly told that the BusinessHUB will offer great added value, as it facilitates communication with Managers Without Borders and improves project coordination. This also increases the impact. Moreover, the local network can be effectively established and maintained.

What is the next step?

The next workshop with Managers Without Borders for the implementation of the BusinessHUB is already being planned. A manager without borders will then travel to Kampala to set up the processes, procedures, and to recruit and train a local employee. The BusinessHUB is scheduled to open this year.

You can read more about the BusinessHUB in Uganda here.