“Afrika kommt!” initiative – Bayer sponsors internships for talented young managers from Africa
19 German companies, including Bayer, have sponsored internships for young managers from African countries. The initiative “Afrika kommt!” (“Here comes Africa!”) aims to support young African managers to boost their skills, to build up active networks and to advance economic cooperation between Africa and Germany. It was first launched in 2008 under the patronage of the then Federal President Horst Köhler.
One of those who have successfully completed the program is Willis Ogutu from Kenya. Within a seven month internship he gained some insights into the work at Bayer HealthCare. The 32-year-old was so excited about his time at BHC that he has remained with the company since then – today, Willis Ogutu works at the BHC site in Nairobi.
Before coming to Germany for his internship, the young African manager worked at NOPE, the National Organization of Peer Educators. This Kenyan Organization helps African entrepreneurs to implement projects in the health and social sector. As a manager for the Global Funds Project he worked on health programs in his home country until 2011, gaining experience in collaborating with the Ministry of Health as well as with aid and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Willis discovered the German business training initiative on the “Afrika kommt!” website in 2010 and applied for the program.
Career practice at Pharmaceuticals
He traveled to the European continent in July 2011 the first time in his life. The program began with a three-month study of German language and culture to help him and the other interns to get settled in. With his fresh language skills he then arrived at the Berlin headquarters in October, where the young Kenyan supported the Emerging Markets EMEA region marketing function as a trainee. During the following seven months he accompanied the introduction and marketing of various products from Pharmaceuticals. “Willis was immediately able to explain to us the peculiarities we would have to take into account in the African healthcare market if we wanted to succeed”, recalls Arnd Schumann, Marketing Manager Hemophilia and Willis’ direct colleague. “There are many different reasons why drugs sometimes don’t reach the patients. Especially in rural areas, rare diseases are often not diagnosed, or the patient has little chance of traveling to a city to see a specialist. For us this means that the drug must be taken to the patient and not vice versa.”
Back in Nairobi with new knowledge
In May 2012 Willis Ogutu returned to Nairobi to work for Bayer HealthCare in the Family Planning East Africa unit. He is responsible for the strategic marketing of contraceptives and is now again collaborating closely with aid agencies, NGOs and the Ministry of Health.
He sums up his experience: “This program goes beyond the learning of standard business practice by international companies; it is about contributing our experience – in regards of the African way of doing business – to all the German companies interested in growing their businesses in Africa.”
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