- Unilever’s country heads in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Francophone Africa, and Uganda are set to report to Kenyan Ben Lang’at.
- Lang’at aims to focus on driving sustainable growth, fostering innovation, and building resilient businesses with strong brands in both East and West Africa.
- He has held several key positions at Unilever over the years, including those of financial director in Kenya and Ghana, as well as a leadership role at the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company in Nigeria.
Global fast-moving consumer goods company Unilever has announced the appointment of Ben Lang’at as the Executive Vice President and Head of the recently combined East and West Africa region, effective January 2024.
His appointment means all country heads within the regions of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Francophone Africa, and Uganda will report to him directly.
Ben will use his extensive experience and strategic leadership to oversee the regional business operations in this new position. Coming from Friesland Campina, where he served as the Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Ben brings his wealth of experience to Unilever.
Ben has a long history in the consumer products sector and began his career at Unilever Tea Kenya in 1993, making him familiar with the company.
Over the years, he has held several important positions at Unilever, including those of Financial Director in Kenya and Ghana and a leadership role at the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company in Nigeria.
Commenting on the appointment, Unilever Africa, Caribbean, and Central America General Manager Jaime Aguilera said they are thrilled to welcome Lang’at back.
“His deep understanding of the African market and his commitment to building sustainable business models align seamlessly with Unilever’s values and strategic objectives,” Aguilera said.
Mr. Lang’at noted he will focus on driving sustainable growth, fostering innovation, and building resilient businesses with strong brands in both East and West Africa.
Unilever partners with KAM in localization plan to empower local SMEs
The appointment aligns with the supply firm’s strategic decision to focus more on localization, empowering local African manufacturers toward global standards for growth and competitiveness.
It has initiated a partnership program with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, aiming to train and equip local manufacturers in the supply chain segments to attain global standards, facilitating their international and regional market reach.
The seven-month training program seeks to train and equip Small and Medium-sized enterprises across the country in various supply chain segments, including business growth strategy, product management and diversification strategies, market development, and implementation.
Manufacturing finance management, strategic supply chain management, human resource management, and good manufacturing practices are also among the modules for training.
The program will occur in cohorts, with the first onboarding 40 SMEs, and Unilever aiming for a target of 60 to 70 by the end of the program.
While the total cost of the program remains undisclosed, KAM’s Head of Consulting and Business Development, Joyce Njogu, mentioned that the cost of training a single entity is approximately Sh120,000 for all the modules.
After the training, local manufacturers meeting Unilever’s standards will be integrated into the global supplier’s supply chain, a move KAM believes will support their business growth.
“This will also boost our local manufacturing industry and enhance global competitiveness,” Njogu said.
Unilever’s Supplier Program Diversity Lead, Rasoa Nekesa, emphasized the need to focus more on localization to ensure most products are sourced locally, easing Forex exchange pressures that have led to historic highs in import costs.
“The FX pressures have added to the effects of Covid-19, underscoring the importance of localization for long-term survival. Unilever, in collaboration with KAM, has customized this program not only to assist SMEs scale up locally but also regionally and internationally,” Nekesa said.
During the launch, KAM Board Director and Manufacturing SME Hub Chair Ciiru Waweru highlighted the critical role manufacturing SMEs play in providing innovative and unique products, contributing to the country’s socio-economic development goals.
“We set up the KAM manufacturing SME hub in 2019 with the goal of preparing, nurturing, and growing manufacturing SMEs to take full advantage of the available markets, not only in Kenya but also regionally and internationally,” she said.
“Additionally, we have prioritized SMEs in our manufacturing 2030 strategy that seeks to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20 per cent, subsequently creating one million jobs.”
The up-scaling program began in 2016, aiming to provide manufacturing SMEs with the necessary tools, resources, and guidance to enhance their competitiveness, expand their market reach, and drive sustainable growth.