Hennie Heymans, chief executive officer of DHL Express for sub-Saharan Africa, said the global logistics company will remain committed to enabling Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria to up opportunities in international trade.
According to him, through the extensive network and mentorship programmes, DHL has helped to bridge the knowledge gap SMEs face in international trade.
Speaking during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos, Heymans said the company will continue to invest in training programmes specifically designed to educate SMEs about taking their businesses across borders.
Heymans said the company also partners with international organisations to offer training in particular to the SMEs to help educate and help them understand the value of cross-border trade.
He said DHL Express has internal programmes such as GO trade that it uses to facilitate value-addition on trade for SMEs while also helping them understand cross-border trade.
“Nigeria is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in this market. We have invested heavily in facilities such as the acquisition of two model boats for navigation. We will continue that investment with a special focus on the SME market,” he said.
Heymans further said that SMEs play a critical role in Nigeria’s economy as they make up about 48 percent of the country’s GDP, adding that SMEs are about 96 percent of businesses in Nigeria that significantly provide about 84 percent of the job opportunities in the local market.
On some of the sectors the company plays in, he said the agriculture and e-commerce sectors are where the company is currently focused on.
To him, agriculture plays an important role in Africa and there are lots of value that can be added to the sector.
On e-commerce, he said the fashion aspect of e-commerce is vital for DHL because African fashion is very popular around the world.
To him, the SME sector will continue to drive the economy across Africa, will continue to provide jobs and will continue to be a critical macroeconomic element and pillar not just in Nigeria, but across sub-Saharan Africa.
Heymans said that being a purpose-driven organisation with the right entrepreneurial spirit has stood DHL out above competitors.
“We have a very special relationship with our customers and through this, we have been able to grow with our customers. We are not just a service provider, but we actually believe that we are in a partnership with our customers. We will keep investing in aircraft fleets, and boats, invest in our people and in our facilities. These continuous investments in our existence and operation have helped us stay above competitors,” he said.
On what the company is doing around sustainability in the courier industry, he said the company has set a target to be carbon neutral, with zero emissions by 2050. “Although the target is ambitious, the company is progressing exceptionally towards achieving the target.”
Heymans said through wonderful programmes like Go Trade, Go Health and Go Green programmes, the company has created impacts through the creation of access to infrastructure, both physical infrastructure and digital infrastructure for SMEs to bridge skills and knowledge gaps.