OICCI President, Mr. Bruno Olierhoek speech at ACCA PLC Event 2018

Pakistan Leadership Conversation: Collective Vision for an emerging pakistan

Good Morning everyone!

My name is Bruno Olierhoek and this year I am the President of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, or OICCI for short. I grew up in the Netherlands, studied in France and have worked my whole career of over 23 years, with Nestlé in France, South East Asia, Switzerland, Africa and since 2015 in Pakistan.

As President of OICCI, let me start by sharing some brief facts about OICCI. We are the oldest chamber in the whole of South-Asia and we are the largest chamber of commerce in Pakistan in terms of economic contribution. Our 200 members are coming from 35 countries and operating in 14 key sectors of the economy. We contribute about 18% of the GDP, one third of the tax revenue and have in the last five years re-invested about $ 8 Billion in expanding our facilities in Pakistan. 50 of our members are subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies and are leading players on the CSR front in Pakistan.

Our purpose is to promote overseas investment by leveraging global experience for members and Pakistan’s benefit. OICCI members are indeed recognized for the thought leadership that they have provided over the years. We are looked upon as agents of change and our latest initiative of “OICCI Women: Empowering for a brighter tomorrow” is a land mark initiative to build a more gender balanced work force and to make women equal contributors to the socio-economic growth of Pakistan.

OICCI is a research based organization. We do selective but regular research on Business Confidence, Foreign Investors perception of doing business, the status of Intellectual Property Rights and Security in Pakistan.

The recent results of our “Business Confidence” Survey, has been largely positive, despite all the noise on the political front. Why is it so? We think that business people, SME’s or large companies, all see the opportunity in this country of over 200 million, with roughly 70 million in the middle class, which is spending money on consumer goods and other durables. Over 75% of our members have plans to invest more in the next few years. You will be pleased to know that our members listed on the PSX have in the past seven years shown an annualized growth of over 13% in US Dollar in the Profit before Tax. Now in which country would you get this type of return? If you want more facts about the overseas investors in Pakistan, I invite you to go to our website www.oicci.org to read or download some of our reports.

The Government has very well managed the security and energy challenges over the last years. The economy despite many constraints is now giving about 5% growth but that is not enough and well below potential of the country. Pakistan has the capacity and the need to deliver over 7% consistent growth to meet its potential. With CPEC investment taking more visibility and delivering on the promise we see many opportunity for new industries.

So you can expect the economic and business environment to change in the years to come and you must expect disruptions as Pakistan is emerging and rising. This in fact is nothing new. Heraclitus of Ephesus, a Greek Philosopher, already talked about disrupting the future in the 6th century BC. In his doctrine, change is central to the universe and you all know his most famous quote: “the only thing that is constant is change”.

Still the certainty of constant change is scary, but I want to reassure you, as I have personally come to the conclusion that while we are living in changing times, we must also learn from the past, learn the basics of our trade, as time and again, I see that timeless fundamentals hold true.

Processes are expressed in new ways, with new methods, utilizing new technology and evolving with more speed. Advances in technology are challenging established businesses and business models.

I want to share with you one of my recent market visit in Hydrabad in Sindh. In the first small shop we visited I was just observing as there were some people in the middle of a transaction with the shop keeper. They were not buying NESTLÉ MILKPAK or NESTLÉ EVERYDAY, but they were paying their electricity bill by mobile. I was fascinated, but got even more surprised when in the next 5 minutes or so the other “shoppers” we also “banking” at this retail shop, a man with his daughter gave the retailer money to make a mobile-transfer to their family in Punjab, another old man was mobile-encashing a sale he had made earlier in the week and a few youngsters dropped-by to top up their mobile credit.

Who would have believed this would happen just a few years ago? Pakistan is leap-frogging directly to the latest technologies and it is not just doing things in a new and more efficient way but it is opening up to completely new dimensions.

Let me illustrate what I mean by telling you of one of the Nestlé projects in our Milk Shed. We buy milk from small farmers that live sometimes over one hour away from the closest bank, many cannot read nor write, but they can now, not only receive their payment for the milk they sell us by mobile-wallet, but also use that same phone to apply for a loan, without leaving their house and without collateral. They receive the money within 48 hours and with a decent interest rate of just 15%. This way of working drives financial inclusion and most importantly our small farmers do not have to go to the loan sharks that loan money at 50 or even 60% interest. These technologies are not only a new way of working, they are changing paradigms, they are changing lives!

So while change is certain, the question remains how we are all going to behave in the face of change? Both OICCI and ACCA members are known to be a strong champions of public value, promoting ethical businesses and growing economies. Sessions like these today reflect ACCA’s commitment to knowledge sharing and capacity building.

Whether it’s through e-commerce, e-payment or blockchain, the all-pervasive nature of Fintech means that professional accountants are at the forefront of leading change as never before. Through this, we’ll see professional accountants having a bigger influence than ever on an economy’s ability to succeed and thrive.

Economies with larger proportions of tech savvy individuals – those who have grown up with technology have an in-built advantage. Here in Pakistan, where 55 per cent of the population is under the age of 24, that demographic mix creates huge potential for the future – a ready pool of ambitious, digitally-savvy young people ready and able to take Pakistan even further forward.

In closing, I would like to again congratulate ACCA on this initiative of sharing knowledge with the audience present. Let today’s forum be a breeding ground for ideas and insights which will shape our future.

Thank you all for joining us today.

© 2012 Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry
The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OICCI) serves as the national point of reference for foreign investors in Pakistan. Established in 1860 as the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, it is the oldest of the existing chambers.