Interview with Anne-Sophie DELATTRE, IGL / Project manager, Crédit Agricole SA
and Eva HÖGLUND, Chief Financial Officer, EFL Crédit Agricole Group
By: Mireille de Kerleau, Communications Manager, CACEIS
With the intervention of Mamadou FALL, Managing Director of Kossam
and Marie FAYE, CFO of Kossam
Hello, for the fourth edition of this podcast dedicated to Solidarity Bankers, I suggest you board a ferry that connects Dakar to the island of Gorée, in Senegal.
Eva: It was during a weekend, when we visited the island of Gorée, there were lots of children, and they were singing while crossing the ferry, and it was quite nice, so I filmed them.
This is Eva Hoglund speaking. We will discover in this podcast her experience as a Solidarity Banker, in tandem with Anne-Sophie Delattre.
You are going to ask me, what are the Solidarity Bankers? Well, the Solidarity Bankers are a skills volunteering scheme. It is open to all employees of the Crédit Agricole group and these are missions in favour of microfinance institutions and impact enterprises, which are supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
So before starting, I will just remind you that Senegal is a predominantly rural country. Livestock represents 7.5% of national GDP and 35% of agricultural GDP, but Senegal is highly dependent on the import of milk powder: 90% of the milk consumed in Senegal is imported in powder form, while 30% of the population traditionally lives from livestock and can produce this milk. It is in the face of this observation that Bagoré Bathily created in 2006 a social enterprise called La Laiterie du Berger, with the aim of promoting local dairy production. Today, La Laiterie is the main national processing company for local milk. Its subsidiary, which is called Kossam, is in charge of supervising and improving milk production and collection systems.
So there you go, the scene is set, I suggest you now discover who Eva and Anne-Sophie are.
Anne-Sophie: My name is Anne-Sophie Delattre and I have been with the Crédit Agricole group since the end of 2006. First with an initial experience of more than 10 years in the Crédit Agricole Consumer Finance subsidiary, and a final experience at CACF in expatriation in China where I was responsible for Risks and Permanent Controls for four years. And then following this experience in China, I returned to France, to the head office of Crédit Agricole S.A. and I work at the Group General Inspection, I am in charge of missions at the level of the international local banking division. This is what I have been doing since my return from China, in April 2018.
Eva: I am Eva Höglund. I joined the group in 2001, first at CACF where I worked in international management as supervisor of various CACF subsidiaries abroad. In 2010, I left for my first expatriation in Denmark and then I continued with a second expatriation in China, and that is where I worked day to day with Anne-Sophie. Anne-Sophie was responsible for risks and I was responsible for finance. Then, when I returned from China, I joined BPI, Banque de Proximité à l’International, at the head office in Paris. And for two years now, I have been an expatriate again, in the financial department of EFL, the leasing and factoring entity in Poland.
And so, you are Polish, Eva.
Eva: No, I’m Swedish
Ah Swedish, not at all Polish, okay
Eva: Nothing to do, I don’t understand a word!
So Anne-Sophie and Eva knew each other from having worked together a few years earlier as expatriates in China. I asked Eva how they found out about the Solidarity Bankers mission and how they ended up together in Senegal.
Eva: There you go… in fact, I had already conducted a Solidarity Bankers mission, it was in 2019 I think, and I went to Kenya. I have great memories of it, it went very well, it was also very rewarding because the company really used the material I produced. And when I saw this offer, I saw that it was in the finance field, I saw that it was also in Africa, I was interested, and I ideally saw a Risk and Finance pair. I said to myself, there you go, Anne-Sophie, she is an adventurer like me, I sent her a message right away, and she answered right away. I said to her: are you sure? Because if we apply, I’m sure we’ll get it. Because, really, our complementarity was perfect for what the announcement said and I said to myself there are not two other people who are going to match the offer the way we do. And we got it.
Then, I asked them to tell me about the social enterprise they have been supporting for the past two weeks in Senegal. Anne-Sophie begins by telling us about Kossam.
Anne-Sophie: It is a company whose main mission is a social mission. La Laiterie du Berger is a company with a capital mission, you could say, to make a profit, which is not necessarily the case with Kossam, it is really the particularity. Kossam today, of course, seeks to balance its activities, but it is very strongly colored by the social mission of developing the milk collection subsidiary in northern Senegal in fact, since the CEO of the Laiterie du Berger, when he set up this company, it was following an observation which was that the cattle were used only for meat and that the milk, in the end, it was not used in Senegal, and so he said to himself, we can’t let this material go to waste, not be exploited, so the Laiterie du Berger makes yogurts and Kossam develops the entire collection structure and therefore aims to improve the living conditions of breeders, to develop female employment since 53% of breeders are female breeders. And they also have a farm-school in which they accompany female breeders, or breeders to optimize milk production, help them to properly care for their animals and, incidentally, also try to teach them some methods for growing vegetables for example, that they can implement in the villages when they return later. So it was really a very different prism, for us who are grassroots bankers, to say to ourselves, in fact, each activity is not seen through a prism of profitability but more through a prism of social impact.
And Eva sums up the overall structure for us.
Eva: Kossam is a subsidiary of the Laiterie du Berger. It was created by the Laiterie du Berger, which owned it 100% until last year, when they brought in cooperatives, the breeders’ cooperative. Today, the Laiterie is the main shareholder, with à 95% stake, and the cooperative owns 5% of Kossam.
So why did Kossam call on the Solidarity Bankers? Mamadou Fall, managing director of Kossam, answered Anne-Sophie’s microphone.
Mamadou Fall: The maturity phase in which Kossam is now entering requires good control of operational processes, effective financial monitoring and permanent risk monitoring. The quality of work and the pragmatism of the solutions proposed by the Solidarity Bankers’ missions from which we have already benefited, motivated us to source this new mission to help us structure these subjects.
I then wanted to know more about their missions as such: what were their objectives, how did they go about it, and with which actors in the company.
Anne-Sophie: We had three projects: one project that we addressed together, Eva and I, which was Organisation and Process, a Financial Reporting project that was lead by Eva and a Risk Mapping part on which I was more in lead.
So on the Organisation and Process part, we worked on the basis of interviews with the Management Committee. There, the principle was to discuss with them and to understand the major processes of the company, that they explain to us the detailed operation of their processes, what could be the blocking points or the risks that they already had in mind, the areas for improvement that were already underway. Here we are, we have already discussed a bit of all that and then, on the basis of these interviews, afterwards, with Eva, we had observations, we established a diagnosis and recommendations which we then shared within the framework of the Steering Committee we had every two days. So we really built everything with them, shared the action plans, and validated the work to be done with them. And then afterwards, on the Risk Mapping part, we still went back to a lot of the interviews and also the findings of the project conducted by Eva on Financial Reporting. So there it was rather me who built a risk-based approach to set up a management system, or at least of control, by identifying advanced operational indicators of Risks, and it was me who built it and I shared it with them afterwards. So there, we are more in a stage where they have to appropriate the tools that we shared at the end of the mission and we remain available to discuss with them and finalise the tools.
This response from Anne-Sophie raised a question: what kind of risks might the company face?
Anne-Sophie: Not surprisingly, we have a major operational risk, which then breaks down into sub-topic risks. The operational is quite critical because it relies on key people, and on a process context in a society, in a country subject to fairly high climatic risks, water shortages, processes that are very manual and basically, the collection is done by tricycle drivers, in the bush. A tricycle accident seems silly, but we are really on the first level risk. If there is a tricycle accident, the collection does not reach the Dairy, so the breeders are not paid, it is a net loss for everyone. These are the risks related to operations and then afterwards, at Kossam level, I think you will confirm, Eva, we have a key person risk, which is very very high since we have no back-up on the Management Committee and we have roughly 4/5 people who are really key in the company. Afterwards, there are slightly more detailed risks, tax risk, financial risk, things like that, but it’s a little less critical, I would say, than operational and key person risks. Eva, do you want to talk about your project on the Reporting part? Because it is still a big pillar of the mission?
Eva: Anne-Sophie quickly mentioned the tax risk, which is good because there is no transfer-pricing in place, which is a fairly high risk because there are a lot of activities that link the Laiterie du Berger and Kossam, but without a transfer premium between the two of them. This creates a significant tax risk. And then, the financial risk that Anne-Sophie mentioned is a fairly basic risk since it is not an interest rate risk or an exchange rate risk or a liquidity risk, it is really a Financial Reporting risk since everything is manual. It is linked on the one hand to the key person question. If the key person is not there for the reporting, it will not be done. And then, because everything is manual, it also creates a fairly high risk of error. And then we also worked on the target financial reporting. The current reporting was a little too simple and complicated at the same time: it repeated the same data from one page to another and it was not necessarily the same figure from one page to another. And we identified the new target reporting with them. And now, based on the presentation proposal that I made to them, I am now waiting for them to verify and confirm it. So the ball is now in their court. We remain available to work with them post-mission until the end of June. And we remain available if they need us.
Marie Faye is the CFO of Kossam. She tells us about the contribution of the Solidarity Bankers mission to her daily work.
Marie Faye: I expected the mission to serve to strengthen the administration’s improvement capacities – I am the CFO of Kossam. And today, at the end of your mission, I admit that it will change a lot in our daily work. For example, it will allow us to minimize the risks, to strengthen our financial productions such as reporting and at the same time to save time, mainly. I will be able to move from operational tasks to more strategic tasks.
To conclude, I wanted to know what our two bankers got out of their mission.
Eva: do you want to start Anne-Sophie?
Anne-Sophie: I was about to say, come on, I’ll start ! Yes, it was very interesting, in fact, I hadn’t necessarily taken this whole social dimension into account before leaving, in fact, I hadn’t apprehended it well. And suddenly, it’s still very interesting and very rewarding to say that we are working to ultimately help the development of villages, to increase the standard of living of a population through the profitability of milk collection, by securing processes and similar. And then, being confronted with the operational process in the bush, it was also very interesting, you will tell what your point of view is, Eva, but overall, with hindsight, I tell myself that it was really funny to meet again, a morning like that, at the collection, at 7am with the collector who arrives with his son on his tricycle and his cans, the breeders who arrive with their cans, their buckets of milk to register the morning milking. And then, the second observation that I will also make is that in the end, I left with a lot of certainty about what I was going to deliver at the end of this mission and I did not deliver at all what I had in mind because we had to get back into a small entity context, with few people and we are often used to bringing out the heavy artillery and there, we had to be very operational so reframe the deliverables a little as regards the entire risk mapping part. So that was what was quite interesting because we had to rebuild tools, rethink things on the spot, and deliver things that may seem a little easy from our point of view, but which I think will greatly help.
Eva: I find that these solidarity banker missions are really unique experiences and I think we are very lucky to be in a group such as Crédit Agricole where we have the opportunity to participate in such missions. It really requires a significant open-mindedness, because you have to adapt to an activity that is not ours. Neither Anne-Sophie nor I are dairy farmers or cow breeders. We are experts in finance and risk, but in financial institutions. So you really have to adapt to the size of the company, to the activity of the company and in a context that is not at all ours. For me, one of the best memories is to see this landscape of sand, women who came from right and left, from a house, they sometimes came from quite a distance in fact, on foot. And who came to drop off these two liters of milk in these colorful clothes, very often with the children who accompanied them, and that was a great experience that I feel very lucky to have been able to experience.
A very satisfying mission for our two supportive bankers. I hope that this testimony will have aroused vocations among our listeners and I look forward to seeing you for the next episode of Solidarity Bankers… see you soon!
Listen to the podcast here