Company

why your Start-Up needs a Conflict of Interest Policy

In 2015, we introduced the Conflict of Interest Procedure to our robust Compliance programme in TOTAL. It was a necessary procedure the company needed at the time to save us from unnecessary law suits and biased business practices. Today, I will discuss on how Conflict of Interest can help Start-Ups achieve good governance and systems.

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The Conflict of Interest Policy states that any situation in which the interest of an employee or of one of his Close Relation or friend conflicts or could conflict with those of the company, causing a risk of biased decisions being taken, it must be declared and an action must be taken to manage the conflict.

In Africa, Conflict of Interest has been relegated to a Legal Department issue and ignored in the operations of a company. It is mostly only stated during court proceedings, negotiation dealings or contracts however Conflict of Interest issues contribute to over 60% of dangers to businesses today. Lack of Conflict of Interest policies in workplaces has nurtured nepotism, sub standard products/services, fraud, law suits etc. And may I say this is partly why systems suffer in Nigeria today?

 

Let's consider a scenario, 

Your company has opened bid for contractors to handle a project and you are in charge. Your brother bids for this project and on the day of negotiation, you identify your brother in the negotiation process but even after you declare your conflict of interest, no steps were taken to isolate you from the process. Your brother wins because his company is the best fit however the other vendor who lost finds out that he was your brother and sues your company to court.

How do you plead? In this scenario, either your reputation or your company goes down with a huge fine slam.

Now, in the era of entrepreneurship and startups, we find entrepreneurs have ignored the importance of compliance in their business operations. The basic Start-Up kit includes Tech, branding, product/service, business development and marketing. When Legal comes in, its only about equity, company registration or shares. I've seen several startups built to fail from the onset because its structured around non-compliance procedures.

Conflict of Interest Issues affect recruitment of new team members, bringing on board qualified & best practice contractors, in-house fraud, bad company cultures, biased judgement among partners and public officials, law suits, sub standard products & services, over spending etc.

Here's a case study of a distribution and warehousing company

Company XYZ ran a successful business through imposed profit (buy-sell difference) sale and distributing commissions. The CEO's friend drove one of the distribution trucks but could not explain his fuel expenditure playing the age mate friendship card to avoid declaring it. On the other hand, another friend worked pro bono to manage the company in the CEO's absence however 'sometimes slept' with the receptionist in the CEO's house nurturing a late resumption time.

Now let's begin to calculate the loss Company XYZ has lost and the bad company culture that resulted. Finally both were sanctioned and sacked.

Recommendations

So how do you avoid Conflict of Interest in your Start-Up

  • Get every team member including yourself, the CEO, to sign a Conflict of Interest Form at least every year. Also, introduce a policy where each team member declares a conflict of interest once it arises.
  • Isolate team members from negotiations where they have potential conflicts of interests and introduce mitigation measures to vendors/partners who have a potential conflict either within their company or in relations to your company.
  • Have each employee sign a confidentiality form on behalf of the company.
  • Extend a tailored Conflict of Interest Form to your Advisory Board and Directors.
  • Train your team on Anti-Bribery Compliance including Conflict of Interest.

I personally wish that Nigerian Government would install a robust Compliance Policy into our Systems.

When in doubt, always seek advice from your Compliance Officer/Consultant.

Africa Needs Brands Destroyers

Have you heard of a Brand Destroyer? Is it part of your Brand package? Do you know what it means to vanish a brand from the face of the Earth like it never existed? NewsFlash! This is a Life Career Alert and Africa needs more of You.

Let's paint a picture: BUSINESS

Say you started a company 30 years ago called "LURK" and it has been remarkably successful and popular across Africa but then you suddenly hit the 21st century, where business has gone digital and your business model has sunk! Experts tell you that your model needs to be revamped and a new business idea born. The first concern you have is; How can I start a new brand that is not affected by the old failing company?

And another picture: FRAUD

Your shipping company, a major contractor for the biggest brands in the world from oil companies, fashion houses to technology recently came into a Compliance Scandal. Unfortunately, you did not win the case and have had to pay $509 Billion in fine and as a result filed for bankruptcy. Your old clients have abandoned you & it's impossible to win new clients because no one wants to be associated with scandal. You desperately need to pay your debts and cater to your huge manpower which means you need to fix your brand. Your first thought is; How do I erase the old brand so that it won't affect the new one?

Yet another picture: BRAND

You are a fast market. You start shit fast and end shit fast. Basically, your company model is to start new market trends, kill them & replace with new ones. From fashion to political trends to music & so on. Your company owns over 100 brands. You have some brands in the market that need to die completely without any trace. Your plan is; Who can I hire to erase these brands from the face of the Earth because you hate the taste of failure?

The guy you need is a Brand Destroyer! They are skilled at varnishing any trace of a brand from records, people's recognition and the Earth. They withdraw the product from the market, erasing counterfeits also, re-orientating your community to forget and replace the brand with something new, deleting the product from the web even the dark web, all media publications, search engine optimisation, all publicity, all partnerships, all legal records etc. 

Their job is to give you a clean slate, an empty paper and advise you on how long you need to remain underground before coming back & the branding mistakes to avoid any semblance to the old brand.

AFRICA

Africa, our beloved continent. Popularly known for Human & Raw Material Resources. A vamped land that exports her raw materials only to import it in finished products & her people laboriously slaving to enrich the pockets of the foreign market. Largely, it is slighted, not seen, perceived to lack potential, ravaged by wars & unstable political systems hence dangerous. Now, here we are with a bad reputation on our hands in a dire need for a new perspective. A perspective that shows how our economy grows with its human capital investing on our own lands towards a better future & harnessing our own natural resources. The one where our youths have ventured into ideas of a new world and our political systems are ruled by the people for the people.

Will you join to build a new brand? Who will be our Brand Destroyer? Africa needs US !

You & I <3

WATCH: AKON Talking Branding AFRICA & Telling our own Stories

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