Project
Madagascar

Education is the key to development for a better life!

The story continues

 

The wall is finished and it looks very pretty and professional, the school has become a real institute and not just a building in the middle of nowhere.  I’m really grateful to the ONG the Johanna Bode VZW in Belgium and would like to thank them for their support.  Thanks to them this project became a reality and will give us the possibility to grow within our limits of the grounds.  There is only a small problem with the payment that has gone missing between the banks.  Here in Madagascar they tell me that nothing is received and the ONG has sent me the confirmation that the money has been paid.  After talking to the BMOI here in Madagascar, who is not really willing to give a helping hand in searching for the money, they explained to me that the KBC in Belgium is not one of the partner banks of the BMOI and this means that they had to use an intermediary bank.  The only problem is to find out which one.  I have send an e-mail to the KBC and they are trying to trace the money at the moment, but as always it can’t be handled by the local office but needs to pass by head office, so I will wait patiently on any confirmation.  After about two weeks they found the money which was blocked somewhere due to a shortage of information.  When the BMOI called me that the money in the end has arrived she also showed me a paper that the money was in position of the BMOI but it was them that could not mach the money to an account.  And when I asked them if the had received a transfer of 15000 € the answer was NO, so now I will write them a letter to claim the interest received which belongs to me.  I’m glad that this story is over now and we can write a thank you letter to the Belgium ONG “De Johanna Bode” who made it all possible.

 

 

The internship period is over and I can start working on the new school year.  The feedback that I received from the employers about our interns is very positive.  There are the usual small problems like the hours that the interns work.  This does not mean that they are treated as slaves but for them working 8 hours per day is very tiring.  But after talking to them and explaining the real world of the business they complain a little less.  To show that we are appreciated as a school becomes clear with the fact that there are e-mails coming in to ask if we can propose graduates to hotels because they need new employees.  Unfortunately for the moment I need to tell them that we do not have any grads yet.  It gives me confidence in the years to come that we can assure the students with a job without any problem if they continue like this. 

 

 

As of the 18th of September I have the help of Theodora who is a graduate from EHL and will help me during the coming 6 month with all the course material that has to be adjusted in French or needs to written.  With all the effort that I made with the French language the writing section is still not up to standards and will neither be very soon. 

 

For the school year 2008-2009 we have had a 30 or what applicants for our hotel department, which is again more then last year.  This means that we have to make a selection due to the fact that we as one of the few can’t take more than 28-30.  Our structure for the practical work is too small and if we accept more it will only make our quality go down.  The selection procedure as proposed by the school had no effect.  The students are asked to write a letter of motivation to express the reason for their choice.  This letter of motivation, because they have no clue, ends up as a request to be accepted into the school.  The content of the letters does not give any critter to select candidates, so you end up inviting them all for an interview.  Inviting them all creates another problem that is difficult to solve.  Due to the fact that Madagascar is a poor country you are not allowed to ask people to travel and after the interview reject them.  If you invite them, and they are not fit to take up their preferred study you need to place them in one of the other sections.  If every chef the Filière does that we end up with to many students.  The school has a limit of 230 first year students, but preferred is a max of 180.

 

I received a total of 33 applications and invited them all since I had the feeling that a certain number of students would not make it.  Furthermore I changed some of the rules and decided the following. If a student who is resident in Antsirabe and not fit for my section I would not send him to another but tell him or her that she didn’t get admitted.  I ended up with a total of 30 students, which is our max, and placed one in another section and refused 2 who still had another study which they wanted to finish.  I explained to them that it is not possible too combine the two and advised them to make a choice at the spot.  Even if you accept 30 students this does not mean that all of them decide to come.  In the end we have a total of 26 and one who applied late but did not transmit a decision to me yet.  If I look at the statistics I’m content to see that every year we have more and more students.  The first year we had 15 (now 11 left), the second year we had 21 (now 15 left), and the third year is 27 and in one year I can tell you how many are left.

 

I think that we as ESSVA get more and more publicity which brings us more students that are interested in Hotel business.  This also resulted in very interesting interviews since the students had a dream to accomplish.  Also the idea of leaving the school as a manager was less.  For the moment I have a good feeling about our new students, they are not too pretentious yet and will be able to be molded into future hoteliers.

 

 

On the 23rd of October we inaugurated the section HR (Filière Hôtellerie et Restauration) with a great success.  The building was not a 100% finished but we hided some of the unfinished work and went ahead with the festivities.  The different speakers who were there talked about the need of a good hotel school to assure that Madagascar can progress in tourist development.  I personally was thanked by three of the speakers as one of the pillars (beside all my predecessors) that assures the progress and visibility of our school.  When the third speaker mentioned my name the students of the 2nd and 3rd year that where present to serve the cocktail, gave a sort of standing ovation.  This was very heart warming and shows the necessity to continue the work here in Madagascar and assure a stable environment to produce candidates who can make our business better and stronger. 

 

The 4 weeks that Clara has been here have been very stormy for ESSVA.  One thing that became clear (but has been a doubt for a couple of years already) is that the whole administration needs to be changed.  This is something that I can’t assure since I’m already involved in to many things.  This management change needs to be done by someone who is an outsider who is not concerned with the school.  There will be an audit whose main focus will be institutional balance and organizational equilibrium.  Just before the departure of Clara we will have a meeting in Tana with a possible candidate who can perform this job.  The perfect candidate will be a Vazah who is not susceptible to influence from the local Malagasy.  There is also a lot of work to be done by the board of directors who until now have been to distant.  They have asked a office space within the school boundaries and this will be effectuated as soon as possible (before the end of 2008).  With this management change we equally changed my timetable to give me some designated time to control the advances made.  There are two afternoons that I don’t work for the section Hotellerie but for the FAM and the Wednesday morning will be spend on the golf course.  This way I can take some distance from the project and exercise some pressure on the progress of the school in general. 

 

On Monday the 10th of November I will be in Tana for a cocktail reception organized by the ambassador of The Netherlands.  This will give me the opportunity to have a meet and greet with the Dutch community and broaden my network.  When I arrived it was 30 min before and I decided to take a beer at the bar, here I already heard a couple of people talking Dutch but I did not present myself (I thought I’ll wait for the cocktail).  I picked up the local newspaper to see what is happening in Madagascar and the world and there I found two articles about the following developments:

1.     Les Ambassades malgaches à l’étranger continuent de faire la promotion des opportunités d’investissements à Madagascar. Pour le cas de la représentation diplomatique de Madagascar à Bruxelles notamment, les actions menées ont abouti à la mission économique de neuf investisseurs néerlandais conduite par le Directeur Général de la Netherlands Africa Business Council (NABC) Bob van der Bijl qui sera présente à Madagascar du 10 au 15 Novembre 2008. Ces investisseurs néerlandais opèrent dans différents secteurs comme la construction, les transports, la gestion de ports, le tourisme, l’agriculture, la finance. Le programme débute ce jour au Carlton Hôtel par une session qui présentera les opportunités globales de chaque secteur et donnera ensuite lieu à des échanges d’informations avec le secteur privé malgache sur  les conditions d’investissement.
Les investisseurs néerlandais se rendront par la suite à Antsirabe, Toamasina et Taolagnaro jusqu’au 14 Novembre pour identifier les opportunités d’investissements avec les opérateurs locaux.
Le premier résultat attendu de cette mission est l’identification de projets réels qui aboutiront à des investissements concrets. En effet, des opportunités multiples existent actuellement  dans les secteurs d’intérêt de la mission, mais elles devront être traduites dans des projets d’entreprises ou business plans. Dans ce contexte, les rencontres individuelles avec le secteur privé mais aussi avec le secteur public prendront un aspect très pragmatique.
Le second résultat attendu, complémentaire du premier, est l’identification de partenaires locaux innovateurs pour réaliser les projets. En effet, les joint-ventures renforcées par l’esprit d’innovation offrent des opportunités réelles pour les entrepreneurs locaux.  A  noter que d’autres  missions économiques néerlandaises ont déjà eu lieu précédemment avec des résultats concrets en matière de partenariat.


2.     Dix régions du pays bénéficieront bientôt de l’appui hollandais dans le secteur Eau et assainissement. Ce projet de soutien du Royaume des Pays-Bas, qui sera entrepris en partenariat avec l’Unicef, est maintenant en phase de finalisation. Ce programme sera axé sur quatre volets principaux, notamment l’accès à l’eau potable, la promotion des latrines,  la sensibilisation sur l’hygiène et le renforcement des compétences.
« Ce projet concernera en priorité les régions ayant les plus faibles taux de desserte en eau potable et en assainissement. Il touchera particulièrement les couches les plus vulnérables », souligne le ministre de l’Eau, Jean Donné Rasolofoniaina, au cours de son entretien avec l’ambassadeur hollandais Karel Van Kersteren, hier à Ambohijatovo Ambony. Ce diplomate, résidant à Dar-es-Salam, et de passage au pays, a salué la volonté de Madagascar de s’intégrer dans ce projet hollandais. Dans le cadre de la réalisation des Objectifs du Millénaire, les Pays Bas ambitionnent, en effet, de soutenir près de 50 millions de personnes à travers le monde. Et les habitants de ces dix régions de la Grande Ile en feront certainement partie.

So during the cocktail I worked on my network and this gave some very interesting new relations.  I think that with some luck and e-mail contact there is a possibility to do some business (even if it is just giving advice or bringing them in contact with the right people).  So in the next news letter I will keep you informed on the evolution of this accord.

 

 

Last week someone approached me and presented me with a plan for a new to build restaurant/bar/nightclub.  The plans look very interesting and the way it is explained to me gives me the idea that the project has a possibility to succeed here in Antsirabe.  After I gave my feedback on the whole project the owner told me that he would like me to run the business for him.  Before going into detail or telling him yes I asked him on what condition he would like me to run this project?  Up till now he has not given a feedback but I’m patient and still have the time until the beginning of 2010.  I talked about this with Clara and showed the location and even she said that if it is presented well there is a great possibility for it to succeed, so let’s wait and see.

 

 

The last update for this year:

 

It is almost time to say goodbye to 2008 and this gives me the opportunity to give to all of you my reflection on the past year.  It has been a year that gave a lot and took a lot of energy but all in all I can say we tried and we achieved part of our targets.

 

To give some personal encounters with the local faun in a perhaps morbid way is the following:

 

Animal

Injured

Dead

By means of

Personal injury

Fly

X

X

Hands / Candle

none

Mosquito

 

X

Hands / Spray

none

Beetle

X

X

Feet

none

Dragon fly

 

X

Car

none

Chicken

 

X

Motor / Car

none

Dog

 

X

Car

none

Cow (Zebu)

X

 

Motor

couple of bruises

Cow (Zebu)

 

X

Car

Just my ego

 

I hope that at the end of 2009 this list will not have changed and surely not enlarged with other species that roam this island. 

 

My plans to have a Christmas on the beach did not work out as planned.  I had a car from a friend that I could use to get down to Majangha.  It is a 4x4 and that would give me the possibility to also take the little roads that might be very muddy.  But about 50 km after Tana, the transmission broke down, end of journey.  This resulted in a goodnights sleep in the car because it was not possible to find a car to tow the car back to Tana.  The next morning my mechanic came with the Renault Express from school and we towed the car back to the garage in Tana.  We stayed for three days in Tana to see if the car could be fixed but in the end it was hopeless.  I decided to go back to Antsirabe and let the vacation be.  I knew that in January my cousin would come by to spend her vacation here and with her I would make a small tour of Mada. 

 

I had a wonderful ten days here in Antsirabe were I played golf every day and in the afternoon worked a bit.

 

New years were not that special.  I went to bed early due to a small stomach flue.  But 2009 started, on the first, with not too much problems but that is for next year to be written

 

 

That is it for now but I will come back in 2009 don’t worry

 

Love Charlie