Kai Sieverding

Insights from our partner companies

“Have no fear
and invest in Africa!”

Interview with Kai Sieverding, Expansion Management at Schnell Media

Kai Sieverding has been with Schnell Media for 12 years. He started working for the German imaging and media production company as a production manager in South East Asia before accompanying the expansion to East Africa. Schnell Media provides digital imaging services to online retailers, publishers, photo studios and other clients in the fashion, furniture, food, automotive and other industries. In addition to its German headquarters and branches in Asia, Schnell Media established a subsidiary in Rwanda in 2021 to provide more image editing services for the international market. Rwanda has been successfully attracting companies in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector to set up operations in the country for a number of years. To facilitate job creation, Invest for Jobs supports Schnell Media in training qualified personnel for the Rwandan subsidiary and invests in a highly skilled workforce for the Rwandan information and communication technology (ICT) sector in general.

1. Which challenges were you and Schnell Media able to overcome through the support of Invest for Jobs? Which investment barriers were overcome?

Thanks to Invest for Jobs, setting up a branch in Rwanda was made significantly easier for us compared to expanding on our own. Mistakes on our part, the kind that investors easily make when operating in a new country, have been avoided from the outset. With Invest for Jobs, we were able to quickly overcome our investment obstacles, such as fear of a lot of bureaucracy and possible language barriers. In addition, Invest for Jobs supported us in training and qualifying the staff we need.

2. How did the cooperation between Schnell Media and Invest for Jobs come about?

The contact with Invest for Jobs came about through a cooperation between the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce for Eastern Africa (AHK Eastern Africa) and the Business Scouts for Development. During my first visit to Rwanda, I had an appointment with Invest for Jobs staff at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Kigali. This led to a very good and fruitful cooperation that has now lasted two years.

3. What tipped the scales in favour of the decision to become active in Africa?

Our company has been active in South East Asia for 20 years. Due to the time advantage – South East Asia is five hours ahead of German summer time – it is possible for us to serve our customers even overnight.

But as the time pressure is getting higher and higher and our clients expect their processed images back in ever shorter time intervals, with ever higher and more explanation-intensive requirements, we looked for a location closer to our time zone or even in the same time zone. This is how we ended up in Africa and, after a review of the entire sub-Sahara, finally in Rwanda.

At the offices of Schnell Media in Rwanda.
© TTCommunications Philipp K. // At the offices of Schnell Media in Rwanda.

4. What are Schnell Media’s advantages of being based in Rwanda?

On the one hand, we are in the same time zone as our German headquarter and, on the other hand, there are many potential, local English-speaking and eager-to learn employees on site.

5. Which milestones and successes has Schnell Media been able to achieve since the start of the project?

We started almost two years ago with one German and one Rwandan staff member. After a four-week training period at our headquarters in Germany, the two were in Kigali just in time for the lockdown. This set us back a bit and forced the two to work digitally from home a lot at first. From August 2021 on, we started working in the co-working spaces of the Westerwellehaus in Kigali, and the following month we moved into our own office. By the end of 2021, we had already hired the first 20 or so employees.

In early 2022, we moved into a larger office and continued to hire. Today, in November 2023, we already employ 61 people at our location in Rwanda and will continue to grow.

6. What was your greatest challenge?

The most challenging part was getting used but no-more-than-three-months-old technical equipment from our Nairobi Branch, through customs in Rwanda.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Invest for Jobs and the German Embassy, we managed to receive the urgently needed equipment after five months.

Which, by the way, is an example that you should not be discouraged by such things and that you can rely on your local partners, even though five months was quite a long time by our standards.

7. What advice would you give to German/European companies for their investment project in Africa?

Have no fear and invest in Africa. Ideally together with a strong partner on the ground.


Schnell Media GmbH is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH within the framework of the Special Initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition” of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Contact

We are looking forward to hearing from you

Under the Invest for Jobs brand, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has put together a package of measures to support German, European and African companies in investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa. The Special Initiative "Decent Work for a Just Transition" – the official title – offers comprehensive advice, contacts and financial support to overcome investment barriers. The development objective is to work together with companies to create up to 100,000 good jobs and to improve working conditions and social protection in its African partner countries.

Partner countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.

Find out more about our services for companies, universities, chambers and associations: https://invest-for-jobs.com/en/offers

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