A Familiar Project on a Different Continent

National Microfinance Bank PLC is Tanzania’s leading retail bank, with over 2 million customers and 175 branches. Opened in 2015, its new headquarters in Dar es Salaam’s business district is an architectural landmark of the city. With its cantilevers and coloured ceramic louvres, it is a striking building which reflects the optimism and aspirations of this vibrant and fast growing city.

With this project TECHO combined its long-term goal of establishing itself as a major player in the African commercial fit-out market with its expertise at furnishing the offices of large banking houses

Transferring European Office Standards to Africa

The building is one of the few in Tanzania designed in the European style with open-plan offices, so the scope of the project was very similar to projects we have delivered in Europe. The challenge was the location, and the logistic problems this presented. Moreover, there is the lack of experience with regards to modern office equipment, and there is not the same appreciation of good quality products and after sales services. As the main architect for the NMB interiors, Alex Temu, says, furniture products in the Tanzanian market are generally of low quality. Taxes and duties make importation of furniture quite expensive, so the majority end up buying cheap versions from Asia. These three factors together - product quality, sensitive price and unprecedented logistics - made the project a comprehensive challenge for us in this developing and fast-growing market.

Alex Temu
Architect of the NMB HQ in Tanzania

The office furniture market is not really developed here, but with the entrance of international companies and stiff competition, a lot of companies now see the need to change and adapt to international standards. This means that there will be a huge demand for good quality furniture. However, there is a need to reduce costs at the moment in order to be competitive.

24
shipping containers of goods
800
workstations
1,500
m² of glass partitions
90
% humidity

International Expertise and Strong Local Partnership

Tanzania is not the easiest country to deliver to, and to make life interesting we had containers of chairs arriving from South Korea, partitions from Romania and furnishings from the Czech Republic. In Africa well planned and managed logistics is almost more important than the quality of the products themselves. Without close working relationships with locals a project of this scale is just not possible. Selecting and setting up cooperation with local companies is therefore one of the key “skills” for doing business in Africa. As our project manager on site, Tomas Prihonsky, says, one of the great things about working in Africa is that whatever the problem, the locals will always find a solution. On this project too, our local workers and partners could be relied on to get the job done whatever obstacles where thrown their way. In our case it was Justin Hoon, MD of Regent Tanzania Ltd., who helped take the “fear” out of the project logistics. 

Interesting Facts

1

The project for National Microfinance Bank in Tanzania is currently our largest project in Africa. Tanzania became the 90th country in which our products can be found. We won the tender in partnership with Royal Ahrend.

2

A major portion of the order comprised TECHO PARTITIONS produced in Romania. Local firm, Saheb High Glass, helped glaze the partitions. Cooperation with this company was excellent and the resulting partitions look perfect.

3

Installation was to have taken two months, but in the end it was split into stages and took almost a year. In October 2015 the building was officially opened in the presence of the president of Tanzania.

What Did We Learn?

Milan Mateju
Export Sales

Prepare for Everything

We were able to demonstrate not only that we would offer quality products for a good price, but above all that we had the ability, with the help of partners, to manage the logistics and installation work. TECHO products, know-how and vision combined with the skills, flexibility and local knowledge of partners – that was the key to success, and we hope to build on this with further projects in Tanzania in the future.

Tomas Prihonsky
Project Manager

Tomorrow Could Be Late

We have got used to the African business environment – the perception of time is different, but people in Africa are very open and friendly. It is a place where people make a difference. The best advice I received, and which I always follow, came from our logistics partner, Justin Hoon, who said that in Africa if you have an opportunity to move any part of a project forward today, take that opportunity. Tomorrow it might not be possible.

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