Much of Africa's Greatest Fintech Talent is No Longer Locally Based - Many Want to Come Home

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020 / 1:32 PM / by *Eric Van Gils of Holbourne Advisory / Header Image Credit: WeeTracker

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Getting talent acquisition wrong in Africa can be costly. Perceived greener pastures outside home countries has driven highly qualified and talented African candidates to opportunities across the world. The reality is, if you entice them back, you will find yourself with exceptional local talent during a time when local cultural relevance and professional knowledge has become imperative.


The past 50 years has seen a great global migration of African talent. There are many reasons why highly employable and qualified people leave their own country for foreign shores, a term commonly referred to as "The Brain Drain". The popularity of African talent across the world makes sense when you consider the high value local candidates place on education making them naturally attractive for international organisations. Combining education with the experience gained working in difficult or challenging environments back home equips them to thrive in global markets.


When it comes to hiring within your own organisation, you want a view of the best candidate possible irrespective of where they are based.


The perfect candidate could very well be sitting on the other side of the world, or in a neighbouring country, and be open to returning.


We have worked across 20 countries in Africa and have over 40 years of collective search and executive recruitment experience reaching into Europe, the Middle East and beyond. We have seen first hand how global companies have fought for talent in Africa. We have successfully recruited for these global clients through effective talent mapping.


Great African Candidates Leave Africa... but Many Want to Come Back

Top talent in Africa has traditionally been on par with world class levels. As many of these individuals are from underdeveloped worlds, they've exceeded in their drive for tertiary education and in their ambitions for gaining relevant experience. For many candidates this has led them to graduate from international education institutions and then job opportunities with global employers. As a result, you have a large group of African talent forging careers in first world countries, gaining experience on a global level.

With many locals thriving and building careers outside of Africa, the remaining local talent pool is left with a limited selection of candidates for a growing talent demand.

The challenge with finding great African talent locally is that the recruitment market is not highly transparent, and not as rich as you'd like it to be. Therefore, you don't get the same extensive pool of candidates you would typically find in a major first world city.

So while African talent itself is phenomenal, the precise talent you're after is not always back home where they belong. They're sitting in senior roles somewhere overseas.

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Talent Market Mapping: Having a deep view of the talent market before you make a critical hiring decision

Choosing the right candidate for your business means you need a comprehensive view of what the talent market looks like, from market size to talent density and even the general appetite of candidates to move. In our experience, a talent market map assists business in making informed hiring decisions and selecting great candidates versus only adequate candidates. A comprehensive talent market map will include local candidates working off the continent who are open to return to their home country for the right opportunity.


When we show a client what the market looks like, we'll typically go through a process of elimination.


If you're targeting a specific global industry as a talent source, and in that industry there are only 80 candidates who meet the criteria you're looking for, 40 of those candidates might not be looking to make a move at this time, and a further 20 might have no interest in working for your organization.


Wouldn't it be useful to have sight of the remaining interested and suitable candidates? Then it becomes a lot clearer for you to make a selection and you have comfort in knowing all bases have been covered.


Demand for Local Talent is Growing

In hiring African talent based abroad, companies are looking for local knowledge with a touch of international flavour and experience. After all, to compete in some of the largest African markets, you need the same world class skill-set required in any other competitive markets. Every African country has an obligation to protect its indigenous workforce and promote the skill set internally. With growth on the continent fueling the demand for talent, this has made the hiring challenge even harder.


Is Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Correctly Positioned to Entice the Appropriate Calibre of Candidates?

Before you begin engaging with the ideal candidate, you need to ask yourself if your EVP is positioned correctly to entice the caliber of candidate you're looking for. You need to consider the experience of your current employees, and the benefits you offer beyond the generic benefits offered by the market. Non-financial/monetary benefits can make all the difference, not just for a happy employee, but also for people looking in.


Too often, organizations believe a poster on the wall and PowerPoint presentation is enough. However, if it is not practiced by the employees of the company, it doesn't make a case for how the labour market perceives the value gained by working for your organization.


Do you make your employees feel part of the team? Are decisions made collectively? These are questions you should be asking. Gartner reports that organizations that get their employee value proposition right can decrease annual employee turnover by almost 70%, while increasing new hire commitment by nearly 30%.


When you've found the right candidate, you can't expect to entice them to come all the way back home if you're not positioning yourself as a company that people desire to work for.

About the Author

*After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant within the Financial Services Bank Audit business of KPMG South Africa, Eric spent the next 7 years at KPMG working across the talent acquisition team and managing financial services and bank audits.


He then headed recruitment at KPMG South Africa as an Associate Director and then recruitment for the Group Enabling Functions Businesses for Standard Bank Group (30 countries). Eric has been a partner with Holbourne Advisory since 2013, assisting clients across the continent with executive search, talent advisory and consulting assignments. He has delivered over 100 executive assignments across a number of industries.

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