Business Interview

Mr Ylias Akbaraly 
Chairman, Groupe Sipromad, Madagascar

“Madagascar and India will deepen ties”

HIGHLY MOTIVATED: Both Mr Ylias Akbaraly and his wife Ms Cinzia Akbaraly have inspired Groupe Sipromad and the Akbaraly Foundation to great heights

When you received the Pravasi Samman Award in 2009 from the President of India, what did it mean to you personally?
It was a great honor for me and my family to receive this prestigious award. It was bestowed on the courage of my ancestors to invest and build on a remote island, in the desire to build and share wealth for the development of multicultural communities in this beautiful island. It represents the unbreakable bond with India to me, as a Malagasy of Indian origin.

Who is your hero in India? And in the world?
In India my hero is Mahatma Gandhi. He was able to raise an entire nation in growth, materially as well as spiritually. To me, he embodies the spirit of conquest and freedom. His altruism and gift of self made an impression on so many people in the world. I love his quote “An eye for an eye has only made the world blind.” Change initiating from oneself remains a very attractive idea for me and helps me in my daily activities.
In the world, I would say Obama, who symbolizes for me a great change in the world power.

Mr Akbaraly receives the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from President of India in January 2009 at Chennai Meeting people soon after having received the PBSA

You have grown and diversified your business, you run a charity, and you are very socially active. Please tell us the secret of managing so many things at the same time?
Conducting all these projects simultaneously, does not involve great difficulties, but, above all, an organization of his time between spiritual life, family, work and sports. Time management is crucial, especially for not wasting time unnecessarily. Everything must be carefully planned in a day.

Groupe Sipromad is one of the top eight successful companies in Madagascar. When you took over as chairman, the company had few employees. Today it is a giant organization. How did you manage to make it grow so fast?
This development is due to a divine force that is above everything and decides the mission of every person. There is considerable work to be carried out, which can be fulfilled only with an effective and committed team. The success of our projects rests upon essential values such as team spirit, integrity, honesty, righteousness, keeping one's word and Excellency.

What is your dream for Madagascar?
I dream that this beautiful island, a welcoming land, become the dragon of the Indian Ocean and a hub for all Africa, and I appeal to all investors wishing to set up in Madagascar; investment opportunities are considerable, particularly in the mining, renewable energies, tourism and agribusiness sectors. This country will experience a considerable growth, which will make some economies of other continents green with envy.

We understand you are building the Orange Tower that will look over the horizon. This is set to become a landmark in your country...
We are finalizing the tallest tower in the Indian Ocean. The construction of this building expresses our commitment to look even further ahead. Madagascar can radiate to the world, and this tower symbolizes successful financial policy. I would like to demonstrate that by investing in this country, the economy will become more prominent, for the benefit of a whole people.

Mr Akbaraly with family

Is there one single dream that your forefathers / family had which you have been deeply happy to accomplish? If so, please tell us about it...
In fact, my ancestors, who set foot on this land, were builders, pioneers; they began to trade with so little, they had a sense of relationship and especially of work, which represented a fundamental value in our education. Moreover, it is also my goal: to provide a solid education to my children, by providing them with the best universities, still as core values righteousness, keeping one's word, honesty, sense of sharing and humility.

The Akbaraly Foundation is co-founded by your wife, Ms Cinzia Catalfamo Akbarly. What is the scope and mission of the foundation?
My wife always wanted to get involved in the cause of the most deprived individuals. The Akbaraly Foundation aims at helping neglected and disadvantaged populations, including children and women in Madagascar. For 2 years now, Cinzia has been making every effort to set up prevention centers and mobile units in the country to detect and treat breast and gynecological cancers among destitute Malagasy women. I'm really proud of what she has accomplished so far, because within the next few weeks, we will inaugurate the first oncology center in Madagascar, with our first mobile unit that will travel all across the disadvantaged and underserved areas.

A successful businessman and an example to others, you are a quiet family man we are told. Amidst your busy life, how do you manage to balance both work and family?
I attach great importance to sharing moments with my family, my wife and children. Besides, a successful career cannot go on without the support of one's family. Time must be well organized. It is through spending time with one’s family that one can educate one's children well, and I repeat, it is a priority to me. A few months ago, I appointed a new CEO, Nelly Jirari, from a financial background, accompanied by a team of experts in finance, IT, communication, human resources, and other talents will join us. This new organization, dedicated to working for the Group's operations, enables me to focus more on the Group's strategy and on negotiations for new markets.

What are your future plans, in developing stronger ties with India?
My hope remains the strengthening of our ties with India. We are currently in discussion for a contract with Indian partners in the renewable energy market, including the installation of a wind farm in the south of the island. We are also in negotiations with a great Indian company in the mining industry. Synergy seeking will continue increasingly in the future. I must also add that we have created the “Akbaraly Foundation India”, based in New Delhi, managed by Mr. Kalbe Rishaid Rizvi, and we have developed collaborative relationships with leading Indian institutions like Cipla, Amronco, AIMS, The New Delhi Cancer Center, The Dutt Foundation, Patanjali...
Let's not forget that in our Foundation Scientific Board, we count a wide number of Indian doctors and cancer specialists.

What are the major businesses in which Indians can invest in Madagascar?
Madagascar is an emerging country with a high growth potential and all sectors need to be developed. Over 45% of our population of nearly 22 million people is under 15 years of age. All efforts should be focused on education and expertise of a workforce, which will operate in the country, but which may also be exported to the countries of the old continent where the aging population will require the expertise of emerging countries. India has been able to develop thanks to its own talents, if we observe such famous groups such as Tata, at the forefront of innovation and operating in many sectors of the Indian economy. Moreover, this group remains a reference to me, because of their diversification, social investment and new markets development. The Indian expertise is very welcome on the Big Island, especially in mining, agriculture, renewable energies, tourism and services, and I’m sure it will only lead to economic and social growth in the Great Island, to “Malagasy Boom” by 2015.


January 2013

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