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Interview with Jorsen Patten, COO East Africa Operations at IBL International

Jorsen Patten, Head of Business Development for East Africa: “these are promising days ahead for anyone to join on IBL Group’s regional expansion”

After living and working for over a decade in different countries of Africa, Jorsen Patten was called to open IBL International office in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018. As the Head of Business Development for East Africa, he patiently developed an extensive network in the region and built strong partnerships for the group.

How did you join the IBL Group?

I joined the IBL Group in January 2018 as Head of Business Development for East Africa, with the mandate to set up an office in Nairobi to pursue the group’s regional expansion. Before that, I worked with The Coca-Cola Company and British American Tobacco (BAT) where I held several positions in country management and strategic marketing across Sub-Saharan Africa. During the last 15 years on the African continent, I have had the opportunity to live and work in Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Kenya with both country-specific as well as regional responsibilities. This experience allowed me to gain in-depth knowledge of the Sub-Saharan region, which is invaluable in my current role.

What is the origin of the IBL International office in Kenya that you created in 2018?

The IBL International office was created following the strategy exercise carried out by McKinsey consultants in 2017. One of the key pillars defined for the growth of the group was that of regional expansion, for which East Africa was earmarked. We started this journey in an entrepreneurial way and defined the DNA of the East Africa entity, as a business development and investment advisory office to IBL Ltd and its operations. In the beginning, we spent quite some time developing the key principles underpinning the growth strategy, specifically in terms of the type of market entry models and their corresponding applications to the group’s operations. At the same time, we were busy building a network for the group among the business community and other key stakeholders in the region. This set up the building blocks for the group’s regional expansion, which now features prominently within the ‘’IBL Beyond Borders” strategy.

What are the milestones that IBL International has achieved since its creation?

Building the East Africa business development office since 2018 has required patient and disciplined work, with intensive collaboration with the group’s operations and the head office. Despite the unexpected Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, we continued to push forward. Over the past few years, we have reviewed dozens of investment opportunities, engaged consistently with family businesses and the broader investment community, and built sound corporate brand awareness for the IBL Group in East Africa. This has culminated with the recent equity partnership with leading supermarket chain in Kenya, Naivas. In addition to our entry into the retail landscape, we have built business development presence in corporate services, reinsurance brokerage, renewable energy, with more to come as we continue to build the East Africa portfolio.

What are the office’s next projects?

With the growth in scale of the group’s footprint in the region, it is time for the East Africa office to evolve further to include post-deal investment and operations management with the partners in which we have invested and/or established strategic relationships. As we focus on the sectors in which IBL is represented in East Africa, we also look at how synergies can be built further among the group’s operations to establish a strong value creation model, as well as provide the relevant support in terms of shared services from a corporate perspective. The East Africa office will continue to spearhead IBL Group’s expansion in the region, and these are promising days ahead for anyone to join on this journey.

Beyond professional opportunities, what Kenya has to offer for one’s personal development?

As the economic hub of East Africa, Kenya has a vibrant business and investment community, with the presence of many multinationals, international organisations, tech companies, making it a lively and cosmopolitan place that will continue to gain in prominence. Nairobi is a dynamic city with a bustling economic life with a strong pool of talented Kenyan professionals who bring a wealth of local experience to any international organization starting operations in the region. Nairobi has also seen a lot of infrastructure development and hosts an ecosystem that caters well to its cosmopolitan nature in terms of educational, shopping, and medical facilities. A lot of options are also available for social and leisure activities within Nairobi itself, and certainly outside of it with world-renown wildlife natural parks such as the Masai Mara, and the beautiful Kenyan coast with pristine beaches.


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