Mozambique, a southern African nation which dotes along the coastline of the Indian Ocean is home to the Laraf Group. The Laraf Group has invested in a multisectoral manner, dominating the Mozambican market in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, logistics, communication and transport. Mr. Faizal Antonio, the Chief Executive Officer gives a broad outline of the group’s activities in an eye-opener with the African leadership Magazine. Excerpts.

Your conglomerate, the Laraf Group has vastly invested across several sectors that are involved in the strength of the economy. How have you been able to manage this very effectively to achieve the results so far?

My management has always been based on honesty, dedication and the search for knowledge. A professional of staff/personnel and business culture is a factor of success, as is the high commitment to quality human resources, which is basically the company’s largest asset. The agricultural business sectors, logistics and transport, communication and image and supply of goods and services require a lot of commitment and delivery 100 per cent of the entrepreneur.  

Can you give us a brief narrative of the journey of the Laraf Group? What has been the trajectory after the years of operation?

Determination and courage marked the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. As a young person with many needs, especially in terms of economic and financial needs, the minimum opportunity has always had to be maximized, with the goal of growing, because Mozambique is still a very fertile country for the business sector, although its conditions often indicate the opposite.

There are concerns in the business circle that if a company excessively spreads, it could spread to thinness and go insolvent. With the multiple fronts the Laraf Group operates, is this a concern for you?

The entrepreneurs never rest, considering the volatility of the business market, the proportion of size that the company is heading also carries its responsibilities and some risks necessary to add even more value to the group. I am putting together a team that will be prepared for the challenges of times ahead.

The time that passed shows that the Mozambican market is very exposed to internal and above all external crises and diversification of activities and a strategy to be prepared for some areas that will have more disturbing times ahead.

There are always the risks on several fronts, but as I mentioned the management team of Laraf Group is an important asset in this battle.

Corruption is alleged to be the major problem on the African continent. What is the toughest decision bothering on business ethics that you have encountered in running the Laraf Group?

Faced with the corruption of our continent, it is practically impossible not to go through embarrassing situations when you are an entrepreneur and try to draw an honest path. Some measures such as non-payment of unofficial commissions and non-overbilling have ensured my business success and, in some ways, set an example for my team.

Since we always have had a posture of transparency and honesty towards our community, which in the long term brings huge dividends, because all market players know our values and this translates into confidence in the commitments with Laraf Group.

Excellence in business is quite a rare feature, especially in developing countries. This among others is one of the standout attributes for your nomination and consequent upon this, conferment of this award. How can young Africans practice this?

Honesty, humility, courage, determination and the will to learn characterize my course. Undoubtedly these points were and are crucial to the pursuit of excellence, regardless of the area in question.

 The advice I give is that the young people are not in a hurry to grow, that they maintain their focus and patience, because the rapid growth sometimes carries with them some dishonest trails and that they try to always comply with the laws in force, because that way they will have the market all open to offer unimaginable opportunities.

Investing in Africa takes patience and laser focus. You seem to run many companies to hedge against the fluctuations of the market. Why?

Africa is the land of opportunity and it is important to grab the ones that lie ahead. The existence of several investments guarantees a greater balance because the economy is unstable and obliges the entrepreneur to be bold and to take some risks.

Having multiple deals ends up giving comfort because there are always highly profitable deals that outweigh others that may not have met the expectations.

What’s the investment outlook and projection for Laraf Group for the next 20-years. Are there new areas in the projection?

For the next two decades, the goal is to continue to grow in a sustainable way and to develop technologically, socially and financially. Invest in infrastructures and gain even greater space on a national and international level. Since the beginning of this project, the social footprint has always been taken as a pillar, and we believe that Laraf Group is an important element for a better society with more job opportunities for the community, making it grow and grow with it.

Being awarded the African Leadership Business Excellence Award and induction into the CEOs Hall of Fame is a memorable event with great honor and its fellows are chosen quite painstakingly. How do you feel about this?

I never thought to reach this status and it is a great pride for me to be a member along with people as distinct as the other members. I have humble roots, and I never forget where I came from and where I want to go. These years have been great work, but very compensatory and I see this daily in the enthusiasm of my collaborators and partners. And that one yes, is one of my biggest prizes.

However, with great satisfaction, I find myself nominated for such a distinguished prize and certainly a pride for all the elements of Laraf Group and I consider this a great success.

I would like to thank all my partners and collaborators for this trip, and I am counting on all of them for what is coming, and I am a realistic man, but of faith, and that the coming years are a statement of the group nationally and internationally.

Quote:

Honesty, humility, courage, determination and the will to learn characterize my course. Undoubtedly these points were and are crucial to the pursuit of excellence, regardless of the area in question.