with 🎙️ Walid Khoury, General Manager of Desalytics & Water Influence Guru
💧 Desalytics is a social impact investment vehicle helping solve Africa’s water challenges that ambitions to change the Water landscape in the Sub-Saharan region.
What we covered:
🍎 How Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia host the World’s most pressing Water Challenges
🤔 How the Water Industry feels more confident, serving the Asian than African market, and why
🍎 How there’s an overall lack of understanding around what Africa and the Sub-Saharan region are
🍏 The drivers that make this region incredibly attractive if you know how to address it
🍏 How the reluctance of Water Multinationals to serve the Sub-Saharan region creates a void and an opportunity in the market
🙋 How Desalytics aims to address this market, and how it’s at the same time an innovative and bold move
🌎 How Blended Finance and Industrial projects are totally different and shall be approached accordingly
🍏 How the “Desalytics” Idea was cooking in Walid’s head for over 12 years
🍏 How to beef up your water marketing and sales engine, and how to build it up from scratch with 2021 tools
💪 How to drive awareness on the African potential, brilliant minds, and tremendous opportunities
🍏 How Desalytics’ path furiously resembles the expected trajectory of hypergrowth companies, and how they might achieve it without burning Venture Money
🧮 How the company ambitions to grow into a full vertical, catered to an underserved market
🍏 Gender Diversity, Finding time to grow simultaneously in so many places, having a positive impact… and much more!
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
Teaser: Sub-Saharan Africa Water
🔗 Have a look at Desalytics Linkedin Page
🔗 Come say hi to Walid on LinkedIn.
is on Linkedin ➡️
Infographic: Sub-Saharan Africa WaterSub-Saharan-Africa-Water-Walid-Khoury-Desalytics
Quotes: Sub-Saharan Africa WaterSquare-Quotes-Walid-Khoury-Desalytics-Sub-Saharan-Africa-Water
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Get Season 2's Summary!
Antoine Walter: Hi, welcome back to the show.
Walid Khoury: Hello. Thank you for hosting me again.
Antoine Walter: You were a fantastic guest. I checked by season one, episode 10, and we are no by season four, episode six. So that’s been a while that we haven’t had you on that microphone and quite another things happened, but right before jumping into that, we have traditions.
So that’s open with the postcard and you’re sending a postcard from Dubai. So what can you tell me about Dubai?
Walid Khoury: It’s funny enough that last year also we had our call almost around the same time. So, but then back then it was completely challenging environment. You remember? I was supposed to be in France next to you and what I couldn’t make it.
So this year is completely open. We just started to export 2020 in Dubai. So it’s very busy, you know, and I encourage you to visit.
Antoine Walter: Yeah, I’ve seen the videos of the expo 2020. And it was like, oh, maybe not that there would be a bad time to go to Dubai, but that sounds like an even better time to go to Dubai.
So why not? Uh,
as I was teasing right now last year, I had the very largest social influencer in the water sphere on that microphone with you. That is still the case today, I guess, because that just checked, you are very close to crossing the 27,000 follower bar, which places you like, not even ahead of everybody else, but simply as the only one that can really claim the, this name of influencer.
And I know we have, we had discussed quite a lot about, are you an influencer or not last time, but this time. I’m receiving the CEO and founder of disability. and also you’re hosting some panels, which I guess are linked to that with some very clever African minds. So I think that’s our deep dive for today.
What is this analytics? What are you doing in Africa in general? And what are your targets? But let’s start with, uh, with this analytics. What is your elevator pitch to.
Walid Khoury: Yeah. So this politics relies on partnerships and innovative impact investing business model to deliver the diverse portfolio of water testing and also water treatment solutions to customers across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Antoine Walter: So your focus is really on the Sub-Saharan part of Africa, correct.
Walid Khoury: And by design, we focusing on your, on Sub-Saharan Africa because it’s behind in terms of infrastructure, but also in terms of needs and opportunities.
Antoine Walter: So that means that when you see Sub-Saharan Africa, which is listed everywhere as one of the two places, probably in the world where there’s quite a lot to do with that with south Asia, you seeing that as an opportunity, not as a loss battle, how did you decide to target there?
Walid Khoury: Definitely. You know, it’s, it’s interesting. And you made the comparison with Asia and Africa. So people look at Asia and Africa and, uh, this is small nuances. Multinationals are more prone to go to Asia compared to Africa because they see it as easier to do business. So the Sub-Saharan market is kind of left behind because it’s too fragmented.
It’s too complicated for multinationals to manage, you know, and we can dive through later on, on.
Antoine Walter: Well, actually, I’ll quote you here because I found that, uh, in one of your marketing content that you were saying that the Sub-Saharan Africa remains an underserved water market, what you just explained, lacking the presence of, of leading multi-nationals.
So it sounds like I could come and pattern you teased it a bit now by saying that they see it as a most difficult environment to do business, but why is it.
Walid Khoury: I think there are a few reasons. So first a lack of understanding, and it’s driven by bias. I mean, you all grew up in what we in and we build our own thought process based on what we see.
So think about when you all grew up, what you see in Africa, you see like famine and you see wars, conflicts and stability. So it’s kind of challenging environments. This is one. Second part is the risks, and these are not perceived. These are real risks. So you have the currency fluctuation because you have multiple countries, multiple currencies, you have the political instability, and it’s still in some places.
There are other find stability. You have a commodities risk. Some countries are relying on oil. Like let’s say Angola, Nigeria, some companies are relying on mining. Let’s say Zambia, for example, and so on. So we have commodities risk also that can really impact the. And also you have the payments risk, you know, because you have a lot of defaults and so on.
On top of that, you adds a complexity. It’s very fragmented is that the area I’m covering is 43 countries. So imagine the complexity. So 43 countries, different languages, a giant landscape, lack of infrastructure, just to move from one point to another point, it takes hours. And I think what has been happening for now it’s opportunistic.
So companies will look at Africa based on the opportunity and not with the long-term. Because of all these challenges. So that’s why I say, for example, if they compare, if they invest that costs, for example, infrastructure in Asia, compared to Africa, the returns will be faster in Asia, especially if you are on stock market, the company you need to watch also what investors are getting as a return.
Antoine Walter: So that means everybody looks at that. Everybody sees all those hinders to doing business. And you were just saying that is an opportunity. What makes you look at that as an opportunity?
Walid Khoury: Definitely it’s you have multiple drivers for the African continent and they might not be immediate, but there are a lot of drivers.
So you have first the urbanization, we’re starting first from a very low level of water infrastructure, you know, and then you have all the drivers that are changing the landscape. So you have urbanization. People are moving more to this. Have also the industrialization. So typically Africa will import a lot of products from outside.
It has been shifting completely towards investment in countries, in country manufacturing, you know, seen like the Dungog, the group, for example, in Nigeria, it’s not one that one of the biggest manufacturers across Africa and also. You’re having more and more legislations and Inforce legislations in terms of, uh, water discharge, water limits, and so on.
As well as the demographics with the young people, looking for jobs and, and, uh, this creating a lot of needs. And also Africa is rising in terms of GDP and prosperity. So the disposable income for people is becoming now even higher. So when you have a higher disposable income, you’ll have more demands and you have more needs to, to address.
So it is an opportunity.
Antoine Walter: You were mentioning the lack of infrastructure. So when preparing for our discussion, I was looking at the numbers. What I’ve found is that 42% of the population in that area is served with safely manage water. 23% is served with safely managed sanitation and 7% with at least secondary waste for the treatment.
So if you look at that as an opportunity, there’s a lot to do. If you look at that as the state where we are today and with the targets, you know, of the SDGs, six to reach clean water and sanitation for all by 2030, it sounds like we’re lacking a bit behind my question here is you mentioned the regulations as a driver and, uh, we’ve been discussing quite a lot on that microphone.
How the other thing which might be missing is the funding. What will be the first to come and how can you trigger it to come a bit faster?
Walid Khoury: It’s an interesting point. You know, when we look at the market and we’ve done a lot of strategies thinking and critical thinking on the African market earlier in my career.
So it’s not just in politics. So we kind of split the market into, so we have the donor funded projects, which are, as you mentioned, driven by UN DP by world bank, by Asian, African development bank, all these type of funding donors, and you have also the industrial driven. And these are completely two different approaches.
So when you go to a industrialist, he wants to produce products. So he wants the best operations and processes within his plan to be able to manufacture constantly a product that has good quality, whatever it is, if it, if it’s detergent, if it’s cooking or any production, it has to have the same level of quality.
So these type of customers. We work with them on return on investment model basis. So you help them by giving them the right solutions. They improve productivity is they pay you for the money that funded. They have enough money to operate. So different ones, which is the municipalities and government funded projects.
And so on, these are more complex and this takes longer time, but then you need to be present because. While working through the funding, the donors are becoming more and more demanding in terms of what technologies you’re implementing. Is it safe? Is it reliable? Can it work in the future or once they leave as a project to not be working anymore and so on.
So we have these two dynamics in terms of funding and each one of them you have to others, et cetera.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned that you’re targeting 43 countries or working by the way, targeting are working or already active in 43.
Walid Khoury: No, no, no, not yet. So let the region, we’ve defined this 43 countries. So basically we took out to the north and the south all of most countries and the south, which is South Africa, basically, and a couple of countries.
And for a very simple reason is that multinationals typically. I haven’t gone to South Africa. They have opened that entity has, they have companies there, same thing in north Africa. I’m talking about my attention as suppliers and they not need us. They already have footprints and they don’t need companies like us to help them festivals and stuff like that.
Part of Sub-Saharan Africa. This is where they are not. I did someone and then put out, came back again, pulled out like in Kenya and Nigeria, but then they need somebody to come and help them across all Africa. So we are not yet in the 43 countries and we’re targeting just half of them, 20 countries.
Antoine Walter: My question there is.
We often hear Sub-Saharan Africa. That is one thing which you could almost imagine as being one country or conglomerate of countries, whereas you are very readily explaining right now that it’s not one thing. It’s 43 different countries and it’s fragmented and very different from one country to another.
So how, even if your targets, half of them. 20 countries or 22 countries. How can you deal with this very high variability from one place to another?
Walid Khoury: This is a very good question. Uh, Antoine, when you started, you wanted to be local because as you say, every company is different from outside, you don’t see it.
I’ll give you an example. And this is across all Africa, just Sub-Sahara Africa. I’ll give you an example. So one time we had done a call, one of our senior. Asking us to leverage our service capabilities in Algeria to cover our clients in Libya. You know, it’s like 1800 kilometers drive with two borders, customs clearance, you know, you cannot do it.
And there is no way you can do it from outside. People. Look at Africa as, as it’s one, as you mentioned, Sub-Saharan Africa is it’s one. But then every single country is different. It’s like, you’re talking about, let’s say the Netherlands and finesse, you know, Belgium and France, there are differences. Of course there are similarities, but there are also differences.
So that’s why the fundamental of our business model is to go with local entrepreneur in every country, from the country. So for example, in Zambia, where partners in Keno, African partners and so on, and the idea is that we not understand the local culture. You know, there’s no way we can’t understand it by visiting just for a week business meetings.
It’s the local culture nuances. So that’s why it was based on having local partnerships, more subsidiaries operating in every single country.
Antoine Walter: Let’s talk about this fundamentals of your business model, because I’m very curious here. So that means you have this kind of impact investing approach. If I got it right.
So how do you open a country? What happens.
Walid Khoury: Can I tell you how it started first. Okay. So then you understand where it’s coming from. So basically when you had our call last year, I don’t understand. So I got a call from a young entrepreneur in Kenya. I used to work with him early on in my previous company.
And, uh, he had started, his business was the last two, three years. It was struggling. He wanted some coaching and so on. So we had a few sessions and for me it was obvious he has a working capital. And you have lack of access to suppliers. So basically he has challenges to buy his materials at the right cost because he doesn’t have direct relationship with suppliers and he doesn’t have enough money to buy the materials and then sell them again.
So basically she gets a PO, he has to wait four or five months to execute the appeal and it doesn’t help you in terms of business. So then he asked me if I can fund his purchase orders that time. Look, if you’re going to work on the purchase orders, I prefer to be more like a partner. And help you on many phases of the business, not just the funding part.
I just started. So a couple of months later, I was like, okay, we’re doing this for Kenya. Why don’t we do it in other places? And if you do it other places, you have more scale. So when you go back to a supplier, you tell him, look, I’m operating in 20 countries. I can help you in all these countries versus them going by counter to the small fragmented countries.
And also for customers like you have, Coca-Cola operating in multiple countries in Africa. So you’re coming down to them, telling them, look. It might’ve been completed. You can help you and you don’t have to go to defense supplies for every single need. So it’s a kind of an ecosystem altogether that fits well.
And when you add on it, some of the tools that is more individual partner could not get on his own CRM system, but all the features of a CRM system, then you make a difference for them.
Antoine Walter: So how, what is your relationship? Those people in the country. If I take the example of that, the guy in Kenya that you were mentioning, is it like a franchise where you give them some tools?
Is it like a conglomerate rates where you are a bit coordinating all the activities? Or is it like a service that you’re providing to those people
Walid Khoury: I don’t have yet is the answer, I guess, because you know, what’s happening. Like we, we don’t mix of all what you just said this week. I was talking to a private equity and hedge fund.
So we are kind of a private equity. So we buy shares in small companies. You have some to grow, you know, we don’t sell them, but we have them. So this is the difference. But also we are like an incubator because basically you’re finding a small business, we’re helping them to scale up and grow their business, you know, we’re even testing it startup model.
So for example, in Cameroon, we started our own entity. So I found a local entrepreneur. W looking engineer and we started the business together. So basic it’s pure startup in Africa and coming one. So it testing all these business models, you know, but what’s the over all umbrella is like having in every country operations where our customers can find reliable and in-country inventory of products.
Antoine Walter: And how do you approach the big brands? How do you sell them on the idea that you are going to develop them in the Sub-Saharan Africa?
Walid Khoury: You know, it’s interesting that having been in the industry for 20 years, as you know, you develop a lot of connections and networking opportunities. And, uh, I’ll give you an example of two of the brands we partnered with LG membranes, you know, and she is one of the best, uh, in terms of price point, but also in terms of.
That’s already well adapted to the African market and most of the projects. So I got the LG brand because the gentlemen who was managing Africa and Europe and south of Europe was part of my team a long time ago. Like 15 years ago, I hired him in Nigeria. So the same thing for pure light. Also, it was part of my team in the GE days, you know, and because of this culture and.
They know you, they know what you can do for them, so you have more trust. But now that you’re operating in multiple countries, it’s becoming the opposite. So suppliers are coming to us saying, you know what? We’ve seen that you’ve working with edgy. It was pure light with hack and so-and-so.
Antoine Walter: And why, why does the Lytics, because of what I see in this analytics is desalination analytics.
Is that your centering around that? Or do you also do much broader thing or is my interpretation. I think
Walid Khoury: it’s a mix of also, I have an inclination towards designing nation and by this Asian people look into it, as it’s just taking sea waters, putting energy and wasting energy and getting water, you know, so it’s not the case.
I mean, this action, you know, it can be used for black Schroeder for industrial processes for many applications. And this is where we are working with in Africa. It’s not for the portable side. So I have this inclination towards dissemination and also this. Industry or segment of the industry that’s going to grow, you know, because efficiency is becoming more efficient now, you know, it become cheaper.
So for me, it’s the growth segments that will really grow. So I had this domain, it just like almost 12 years ago. So I said, I cannot start my company. I said, you know what, I’ll use this one. I have another one, which is interesting what the treatment.com. But then I said, I gave it for something else later.
So that’s why, how it started, you know? But, and also I like the name, you know, it’s, it’s.
Antoine Walter: You were mentioning the domain name. Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought, because I was looking for you, you know, your website and I just saw. I couldn’t find one. And now I just tested to use this, this ethics that the common I see that it’s redirecting to LinkedIn, which is kind of the same approach already has as an influencer on LinkedIn.
And I was wondering about your marketing approach there because clearly you’re going into content marketing and pushing that content marketing approach first. And that’s probably a question that would interest my partner in crime during auto our websites.
Walid Khoury: So websites, I’m not really that because if you integrate them now with all the tools available in terms of productivity tools and also content marketing and, uh, redirecting, uh, productivity towards all of this, it is not yet dead.
And we have a plan for the website. It’s not yet up, but we have a plan for it. So, so they are not yet debt. What you’re doing now, we’ve implemented something called the decided to exclude. Okay. And it starts as a commercial engine. Now we can move to besides excludes engine and our approach is that you need to have a fully integrated solution.
So basically we have tools that we implement across all these companies. So once we acquire a subsidiary, we implement tools with the logic that these tools will help us to grow as a company 10 times in three years. And we unpack on in doing it, you know, so 10 times in three years, and these tools. I don’t see components.
So lead generation funnel management, and also customer retention. So basically initiating the aides, nurturing the leads, closing the deals, and then keeping record and business coming and flowing. So, so in terms of tools that have been implemented now, so it’s almost like around 18 tools out of the three segments.
They’re now focusing a lot on the fundamentals, right? Because we don’t want to be generating leads, contact management, generating leads to us, and then we don’t know how to deal with the leads. And we don’t know how to manage that. And we don’t know how to grow them, nurture them and so on. So now we’ve deployed the CRM system across all the entities.
With a focus on fund management. So basically teaching the team how to manage opportunities, weekly reviews, funnel, shape, size, you know, also demonologist or funnel management. Once this is fully established and we have the expertise and also the scale across 10 subsidiaries. Then we will move to the content marketing, but at the end of the website, this is where we start the regeneration.
I said, is it organic or search engines or, you know, remarketing and so on. So this is where we go into this because we don’t want to, Janet was the leads and then customers have a bad experience because we cannot make. But
Antoine Walter: still it’s talking of content marketing and funnel management at the very top of that funnel.
When I saw you organizing those very interesting conferences with, uh, some brilliant African minds. To me that was obvious that you were working on the top of the funnel. Of course it was informative and it wasn’t only for lead generation, but still it pleases you as an expert in the African area, if that was still to demonstrate.
But what was your background story around this conference?
Walid Khoury: Correct. You’re absolutely spot on. I’ve done that. In fact, those, those calls that you started those webinars and bringing more young people from Africa to have this discussion is basically to drive awareness, as you mentioned. So we don’t want to be going after customers.
Look here, come buy from us. You know, we want to have a kind of a journey. Part of our journey and they are running with us. So we tackled the talent in Africa. It’s a big challenge for young African, uh, people in the water space. It’s a big challenge to find the right job. So we tackled the talent. One. We tackled also the gender diversity in Africa.
So gender diversity focused on that. And, uh, the idea is to, to be close to customers. And also, as you mentioned, so it’s part of the content marketing strategy, but it’s a, it’s like as a cause we have the call also is beyond your, not on this topic. So it’s kind of becoming irrelevant in the space. So people come to you later, once they have any needs,
Antoine Walter: you are present in 10 countries right now, right?
Walid Khoury: Honestly, that’s seven now.
Antoine Walter: 7 71 year. I mean, many, many, many companies are looking at you and probably asking how you do that. But my question here is, so you are active in seven countries. You’re planning to have 10 in a very close future. And the target is to go to 20, 22. So holiday of Sub-Saharan Africa, you’re still running the water questions.
So you are very active in, in the, in the content approach on LinkedIn and other platforms. You are now organizing some conferences. How’d you do all of that. How do you pack all of that in it?
Walid Khoury: It’s challenging indeed. But, uh, for this Isaac’s, we’ve done it in a way that is more like a hands-off type of model approach.
So basically every entity is kind of independent. So for example, uh, the team in Zambia is completely independent. They come to me when they have needs ones. That is a challenge, but I’m not running the business. Day-to-day, you know, somewhat providing strategic guidance and to.
Antoine Walter: But you mentioned Cameroon where it’s a startup and where you are actively involved in a startup.
And I think every startup builder knows that it’s going to take probably 200% of your time.
Walid Khoury: So again, you have a good young talent in Cameroon, leadings of business. You know, what, what I’m doing is kind of putting the processes in place that can be applicable in every country. They can use them and pick and choose what works better for them and choose them.
So basically I don’t have to be myself very important, but. I agree with you because it doesn’t stop here. Like what I’m doing. For example, I go to countries, I spent most of the first six months of the year in countries in Africa. So basically helping the team to. Meet the customers to bring in this level of expertise to coach them in terms of selling in terms of mentorship, in terms of hiring in terms of, uh, these things are business, having fun of that, if you will.
So it takes a lot of time, as you say, definitely it does take a lot of time, but, uh, you know, I’ve been in Montana for 20 years and you know, the recruitment and the calls and then the answer. So it’s kind of a little bit.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned your targets to multiply each of these subsidiaries by 10 in three years, which brings me to one of my favorite questions on that microphone, which is, is hypergrowth possible in the water industry.
And I think that your target clearly answered with a yes. Is that true?
Walid Khoury: I think it depends on the markets, you know, there’s the market and the industry. So we should pick a market that is kind of underserved, you know, it was a lot of potential. Several of those dimensions that it’s not like just a organic growth model.
So you have a lot of growth dimensions, the product portfolio, or maybe is it through the industry served, you know, even hiring more people. It’s also a lot of dimensions for us to be able to. So I agree with what our industry is challenging. It’s one of the most challenging segment to work in and from outside people think it’s sexy and water scarcity.
So you’ve got a tough business. Everybody needs you, but it’s very competitive, very commoditized. So you have to be very selective on what you’re targeting and how we approach.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned the growth and giant that you were building with the different subsidiaries of this analytics. What about the fuel of the giant?
Do you partner with capital investments with investment funds to bring, or to speed up the process? Or is it more of an organic growth where you with the mother company, you, you can finance all the subsidies.
Walid Khoury: It’s fine. Now it’s still run as an organic model because the idea is to test the model and show it works, you know, and we’ve had some successes now for the last, almost a year now.
So we’ve had successes and the next year we’ll be doing after full to scale up faster and quicker, we’ll be going after. But as of now, we’re still sufficiently funded and focusing on putting the building blocks first units to show that how it’s really successful so far, I’ll give you an example, the two subsidiaries you acquired early in the year, this year, we’re doing 3.5 times growth.
So we will not see as, as in developing in developed economies, you know? So that’s why the focus on this.
Antoine Walter: Unless your Twitter and, or your Uber, and you can burn a lot of money, but yeah, 3.5 in an organic fashion is incorrect.
Walid Khoury: It’s a good point. You bring in like burning money and, and, uh, our business model is having the entities profitable from day one.
If you look at all of our entities with the exception of coming on, which is start up. If you look at all the other operations, the apple store, they’re not like, uh, you know, burning cash, I think cash for inventory, but not losing money.
Antoine Walter: So that means that you are somehow not somehow you are achieving hyper-growth.
By being profitable. So not burning money. It sounds to me like you’re really onto something big from my very little position here.
Walid Khoury: It does underline it. It’s interesting because for now we’ve looked focused on small years, you know? So the next step, once we were able to raise more capital, then we can scale it up in terms of size of the acquisitions, you know, because then it will become even more sizeable.
And it’s not about becoming big. It’s more about having enough scale to make any.
Antoine Walter: Talking of that impact. You mentioned you have high targets for next year. What is on the table for next year? Opening more countries, keeping the growth pace in the existing countries. Well, the
Walid Khoury: next year it’s going to be very challenging because we set up a lot of expectations and I’m sure we’ll have to trim them down.
And that. What’s really makes sense. So, so for example, we have the plan of getting to the 20 countries, which is for sure, one of our main, main targets I’ll keep it. Also, we have a project of, uh, having a localization of our supply chain. So basically we have all products available, but at the, at the right point in time, so we can burn a lot of working capital in terms of also we’re starting a RN smaller and the system too, just to check what are the products that we can.
Isaiah manufactured in-country or even a white label, you know, because at the end of the day, if you want to make scale, you need to have also some products that you can control the supply chain directly from unplanned.
Antoine Walter: So somewhere down the line, you have 20 countries opening the Sub-Saharan region, you have your own product line, and you can produce a part of this product line locally.
Walid Khoury: So once you have the footprint, you have the local footprint in terms of commercial footprint across all these countries and you have, then scale will help you to be able to produce your own product. Well, one month project will be very busy with, is that, uh, the digital marketing part, you know, so as I mentioned now, we were building mainly our infrastructure, but next year we have to move to the digital marketing part because we’d be present in multiple countries then to make sense to, or to call after this through inbound campaigns, campaigns, real-time lead generation content marketing, but really protected content marketing, uh, centralized and local campaigns.
You’re not answering. So the next year, this will be more the phase where Pico model the digital
Antoine Walter: and what will tell you that you’ve succeeded in maybe five or 10 years? What is the impact that you’re looking and aiming?
Walid Khoury: Okay. I think for me, the impact is mainly on job creation. You know, of course the finances are part of it, but I mean, if you want to measure real, tangible, but it’s basically job creation, what type of mix in your employees you have.
So for example, today you focus a lot on having working mothers and also gender diversity and so on. So, so that mix of the talent you have in your company, also job creation and also. Impact on customers. So for me, one of the things I really like when I go to a customer, we have a deal with them. And then three months later, they order again from us, you know?
So it means we’re making an impact and not just being seen as a supplier. So, so these type of, uh, social impact investment opportunities that originally decided this was built on,
Antoine Walter: well, it’s a impressive thing you’re building and it’s impressive bathroom. I think we’ve made a good tour for the deep dive, unless I missed something big on this.
Walid Khoury: I don’t think he must have big anything big, you know, but, uh, it’s a good story. And, and it’s still, you know, like in progress. So maybe next year, if you have our call, we’ll have something different to talk about, you know, because it’s a learning process, a business model. We didn’t set it up as in custody, in stone.
Okay. This is what you want to achieve. And this way we will be, because, you know, you said that Africa is diverse. We don’t really know how it’s going. So, so we were going to see how it goes and adjust to time. And that’s a good thing about being a small company is that you can tell you that you’re agile, you know, against adjust any time I had the marketing teacher, I used to say it was that the cost of being.
Exceeds the cost of being clunky. So basically if you think a lot and then you don’t do anything, then you’ll be left behind, you know, just, and then the sentence was that, throw it up in the air and fix it on the fly. So just no shit. The United States, he’s a marketing teacher at Harvard, you know, so, so just launch it and then you see how we fix it.
Don’t worry about
Antoine Walter: I heard two different version of that one. The first was that Don is better than perfect, which I fully, fully subscribed to in, which is exactly what you said. And the second was a, yeah, exactly. You it’s free flight. And uh, and then you’re building the plane around it and you’re hoping to have built the plane before you touch the ground, because if not, you’re crushed.
So trying to keep the door open just because. Those days you are regularly announcing a new country, which you opened a new thing and it was, Hey, maybe I can have a scoop and you can just give me a new country. You would be releasing in the next two weeks or something like that. So. I tried it
Walid Khoury: Nigeria, Nigeria.
Yeah, it was complicated. So, because we had went down with a partner first and we went backtrack, do you know, the regulatory environment is quite complicated and you really need to navigate to the right partners. And I’m happy that now we have the right partners and out analyzing data about the partnership, but it’s being built as a really solid foundation.
Antoine Walter: Just for me to understand when we say Nigeria, you know, sometimes to me it sounds a bit like if we’re saying a country like, like Europe, Hey, Europe is a country because that’s from the magnitude of size. It’s quite similar. So does that mean that you’re starting from Legos for instance, and then you’re saying, okay, one day we’ll be so big that we can cover the country, or could you even within the country have different subsidiaries of this.
Walid Khoury: I would potentially partner mean it’s a partner that signing was, is that there are already established in multiple cities and they have relationships with industries with covering and so on. So basically for them, it’s kind of a expansion of what they can actually do, but more on the trading side of consumables and water quality.
Antoine Walter: Well I’m hyped. So, um, I’ll watch the news to be sure to get it when it’s out. What if it’s fine for your propose to switch to the rapid fire? Definitely
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Rapid fire questions:
Walid Khoury: it’s time for the rapid fire questions.
Antoine Walter: So I tricked you because I sent you the rapid for a question, which I use to send for my first time guests. But as you already had that set, I have the second set of questions, which is for my returning guests. And my first question is what is your favorite part of.
Walid Khoury: basically in project, my favorite part is the team you’re working with. You not just thank the build critiques. So the relationship was a team to be completely flawed project. So trying to get to know all the people that are doing this project and the personal level, not on the project side, you know, to make a big difference.
Antoine Walter: Is there something you’re doing today in your job that you will not be doing until. It’s
Walid Khoury: a tough one. So, because I don’t know what will be. My job is in 10 years time, you
Antoine Walter: know, like, let’s see how much it’s changing one year out. I guess it’s hard to do in 10 years. I
Walid Khoury: got there as opposites. What I’m doing today.
I was not doing last year. For example, I was here before attending all these, you know, corporate calls and all the matrix environment and driving all this through all this maze of large corporations. This is what I’m doing to the army enjoying. I’m not doing anymore.
Antoine Walter: Okay, I get it. You, you change the question, but your answer is cool.
So I accept that one. What is the trends in our industry that you would like to see ending and disappearing forever?
Walid Khoury: I think there is something that everybody talks about or water scarcity, you know, and they say like, okay, wars are going to happen because of water, scarcity and so on. And all these big dogs, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime.
You know? We talk about all that we haven’t seen any major orb done because of what this class is. So I’d like people to stop talking about it and talk more about the solutions and how we as a human beings. And also as a water industry, we managed to make water cheaper, to produce than any other, uh, um, our bond, you know, playing on anything to make, to make it worse.
You know? So the technology has really evolved to the point that it’s much cheaper to produce waters and fight.
Antoine Walter: Let me sidetrack you here. I shortly alluded to it earlier in our conversation about this SDG six, not on track of happening by 2030. I think we are progressing at one quarter of the speed we should.
And you are at the heart of it somehow, because as I mentioned, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the places where we will definitely know if we make it or if we fail it. What is your feeling there to see stars alive?
Walid Khoury: I think, yes, it, the challenge is as the six is that it’s driven by the governments, you know, and we all know that public entities.
Slower than private entities. It doesn’t mean that they do the right thing or the bad thing, but they are slower because of the bureaucracy they have around. So two we’ll get there. Maybe it will be delayed, but we’ll get there because what’s happening is that, you know, the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So basically for human being first security, they want water, you know, shelter and so on.
So these are basic needs. You’re not talking about. Some things at the self actualization at the top of the pyramid. So it was just basic, the basic needs. So that will happen because people are having, as we mentioned earlier, better disposable incomes and so on. So if the government doesn’t address it, you will have people understanding, but by themselves and today, the circular water is becoming more and more cheaper to implement.
So basically if you have your own village, you can easily install a recycling unit and you’ll get more water out of a transplant. So. So the private sector really, really takes a lead. Might take some time, but it will happen. I
Antoine Walter: hope you’re right. And I’m sure if someone has a clue about it, it’s used. So I’m kind of happy about the
last question. Um, can you name one thing that you’ve learned the harder.
Walid Khoury: I’m the type of person who built the ratio based on trust. And then after we see what happens, you know, so we’ve had a few of these we’re trying, we could have been faster come faster, but some of these we’ve done did not work out, you know?
And, uh, but there are always lessons learned and this is how you keep improving yourself. And then the fine tuning of the business. So
Antoine Walter: you’re seeing that some deals didn’t happen. Does that mean that you’re somehow targeting the 43 countries and then seeing that’s probably 22 stick? Like you send them on the wall, then the one which stick on the wall, are your countries, or do you really target 22 countries?
Walid Khoury: So we have a target approach on the countries, 20 countries in 2022. So we have the target approach on the countries, but what’s happening is depending on. How fast we’re moving in some of the deals it’s triggering where we go first. So it’s not that we said, okay, we want to be first in Kenya as an intern.
Somebody has an in Ganda and so-and-so said, okay, these are the countries where we need to be in. And based on the maturity of the deals and the connections we can build and the opportunities we find we’ll go faster and so on. But it doesn’t mean that, that let’s say if there is an opportunity in different.
We’ll not go. So I’ll give you an example. Like Algeria is not part of our strategy, but at the same time, one of our suppliers is asking us to go to Algeria. So, so we are now in thinking like shabby goes out and goes, so is it a distraction or it’s better. It’s helping us to grow faster and have a big, bigger footprint in Africa.
So these are the trade-offs we need to make
Antoine Walter: one of the things. That’s the kind of trade-offs that. I assess next time you were on that microphone, because I like this habit of having you on a regular basis, just because you you’re progressing at a pace, which is absolutely unique from what I see from the water industry.
So while it is. A renewed pleasure to have you on that microphone and that microphone is open to you whenever you want. So thanks a lot. Thank you.
Walid Khoury: And thank you. I really appreciate being here. And, uh, it’s amazing how, how your shows have evolved since last year, you know, like we talked a lot about me, but I mean, when I look at your shows, how they evolve as the people you have invited and so on, I think.
I’m really honored to be again, back on the show and still have time, you know, to everyone to include everyone. So, so it’s really a pleasure to be here and showcase at least what we’re doing in Africa. Maybe people,
Antoine Walter: but really? Thanks. My pleasure. So, yeah. Talk to you soon.