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Fighting corruption in logistics has led to a significant increase in business for one Nigerian forwarder.
AMG Logistics, which last year received TRACE anti-bribery certification, expects to double in size this year as major multinational shippers have become customers owing to its zero-bribery stance.
“We are getting many more customers, and more want to work with us,” said Mark Daoud, managing director. “Transparency and compliance are the key things for shippers and importers.
“SMEs are as interested as big shippers.”
AMG had a tough start after it completed its TRACE certification and offered no ‘facilitation payments’ to officials. Shipments were held up and queried.
“It was a lot of hard work, and there were problems – shipments were taking 18 days to clear.”
Now, however, he says about 80% of shipments are faster while just 20% are delayed – “Because we don’t pay, there is no negotiation so it can be faster.
“One year on and it has its moments,” he admitted, adding that a few days previously lots of shipment had been queried.
“But if I’ve learned one thing, it is that no matter how much pressure there is, you must stick to your principles no matter what anyone else does.”
AMG, which has to train all staff in compliance to retain the certification, has its own customs licence and system, and its own people at the port.
“We don’t subcontract anything,” explained Mr Daoud. “No one is claiming anything on our behalf. Otherwise you don’t really know if you are paying bribes.”
The biggest problem now is growing the business while ensuring that it retains its compliance standards. AMG is looking to more than double its staff numbers by the end of the year, to about 150 people.
“We need to grow quite slowly so we don’t mess up compliance and operations, and we are trying to put the right systems and software in place for a bigger team. And it will involve a lot of staff training. It’s moving on to a whole new level.”
The next step will be implementing the same model in other countries also perceived to be difficult to work in.
He said despite “marked improvements”, Nigeria can still be frustrating.
“Sometimes this country just beats you and beats you. You wonder how this is happening. But every day it is changing, and we must support that.
“It’s a good country, most people are really nice – just 50,000 give the other 190 million a bad name.”
AMG has also begun a programme to fund education and support for schoolchildren. It is currently funding eight, but hopes to increase that by the end of the year.
“We help children that are living on the street and support them with education and healthcare. Just a few months on they have learned to read and write. It feels wonderful to see these children doing so well.
“We are trying to give something back. We talk to them and tell them to become lawyers, or doctors.
“But we definitely don’t encourage them to work in logistics,” he laughed.