Mr. Saponaro, why did you establish a network of Freight Forwarders called Africa Logistics Network. Isn’t it too limiting for its members and for its own growth?
No, absolutely not, for two reasons. The first is the vision: five years ago my father Alessandro founded the network because we truly believe Africa is the future of our job. The second is because we had a very bad experience six years ago with a criminal company claiming to be a freight forwarder. As a result, Logimar, our company, lost 35,000 euros. Then we decided to found a network focused on Africa and worked hard, selecting professional SMEs on the continent.
Could you tell us more about the advantages
in joining ALN?
To be able to handle any kind of shipment, from LCL to project cargo, to any place in Africa and back. Also being part of a worldwide network.
You said ALN is a worldwide network;
does that mean it includes any freight forwarder with an interest in Africa?
Yes, sure! ALN is a global network currently with 240 worldwide members, 80 of them in Africa. We are now focusing on Central Asia and South America’s west coast, because it is not yet well enough known that our network covers five continents, rather than only one.
How did you select the members of ALN?
Has it been difficult to find members in every country of Africa?
Yes, it was very difficult at the beginning. In the first year we started with our long-time partners around the world and only a few of them in Africa. But soon the first requests to join ALN were coming in and then, year by year, we are more selective and we reject at least 50% of applications for membership because the country is already fully covered or the request is coming from a company not yet proven to be reliable and professional.
How often do you have an annual general meeting of ALN? We know the next one will
be held in Istanbul; what about the 2020 AGM?
We have one meeting every year. Last year it took place in Dakar; in 2019 the meeting is in ISTANBUL, as we are organising annual alternate conferences: once in Africa and once outside the ‘Dark Continent. In 2020 the annual meeting will be back in Africa. The specific country and the location will be announced in Istanbul.
As you know, there are a lot of networks – probably some hundreds. How do you make sure you stand out in the market?
Well, we are the only network that covers 98% of Africa. This should be enough incentive if you are interested in working there. Till a few years ago the networks were competing to grow just in three – maybe four – continents. Now Africa is considered, like other continents – probably more so – to be expanding all networks. And probably some credit is due to ALN, who were the first ones to believe in it.
Are you concerned about this competition?
No, because we are proud of it and because we claim to be also a quality ‘badge’ for freight forwarders working in Africa. But mainly because our strength comes from being a large ‘family’, with true friends working together not only for business.