Entrepreneur's Portrait: Falihery Ramakavelo, Director of VATEL MadagascarSubmitted by Admin on Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:16
VATEL Madagascar is a hospitality management school, part of the global network VATEL, created in 2014 by Falihery Ramakavelo and his wife Hanitra Ramakavelo. The main site is located in Ambatoroka, Antananarivo, and a new campus will be opened in October 2019 in Morondava to welcome students of the Ecotourism Master’s degree.
VATEL is the third investment of Miarakap, the first impact investment company dedicated to the financing and support of small and medium-sized companies with high potential in Madagascar.
Interview of Falihery Ramakavelo, General Director of VATEL Madagascar
A few words on your career and your motivation to join VATEL group?
My professional career has gone through several phases: first I was in the Malagasy army, then I entered the world of finance, working for the subsidiary of the Société Générale Group in Tamatave, then I worked with several large Malagasy groups... After several years in these large companies, I wanted to set up a school, to teach management to the Malagasy people and encourage them to start a business.
I started teaching management and finance in 2011, for VATEL Maurice. This is how I discovered VATEL group. Their model seemed really appropriate, as it mixes both theory and practice. I was then offered to start the franchise in Madagascar, which I naturally accepted: the tourism and hospitality sector is fundamental in our country. Thanks to its biodiversity, Madagascar has tremendous potential. But it also has enormous needs in terms of training.
What are the needs that VATEL Madagascar intends to meet?
We found that there was a significant lack of qualified managers in the hotel and tourism industry. It's not just the managers. There is also a lack of staff in positions such as servers and cooks.
Our first concern was to have an effective training model. Effective in the sense that when the students leave the school, they are truly operational.
The feedback so far has been excellent. On the one hand, we have more and more students and the selection of candidates is becoming increasingly more difficult. On the other hand, we work closely and are now widely recognized by Malagasy hoteliers, who need efficient and effective managers.
How did you meet MIARAKAP ? What are the objectives of the investment?
We have known MIARAKAP since the beginning of VATEL. Every year, we organize meetings between our students and hotel groups, but also with investment funds for those who want to start their own businesses. As we went along, we thought that MIARAKAP could also be useful for VATEL itself. We needed investors and funds to improve our teaching tools and equip our centers. We also needed support at the governance level. MIARAKAP could provide us with technical assistance and the funds for our development.
Our partnership with MIARAKAP has three main objectives: improving our training offer, controlling our development as we grow rapidly from year to year, and expanding to other parts of the country. We strongly believe in decentralization, and we want to open hospitality schools in the main regions of Madagascar.
Can you tell us more about VATEL Madagascar's specialisation in ecotourism?
VATEL currently has 50 schools worldwide, and about ten of them have a specialization.
Madagascar’s biodiversity is unique in the world: it is a major asset, that must be developed and protected. Today, our country is in great danger with regard to the future of its fauna and flora. Our specialization in ecotourism is a way of addressing these issues.
MIARAKAP receives technical assistance resources through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). These resources will directly benefit the development of our new vocational training centre located in the Morondova region, west of Magascar.
►See below to read more about the CEPF
You underline the importance of entrepreneurship in Madagascar. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs ?
In Madagascar, there are very few entrepreneurs compared to the number of inhabitants, whereas entrepreneurship is the first source of income to improve a country’s economy.
Three words are in my view essential to successfully develop an entrepreneurial project: faith, passion, and discipline. You have to sincerely believe in your project. It’s counterproductive to start a business only because the potential profit seems high… This kind of motivation does not last over time! And finally, it is important to surround yourself, to have the humility and courage to work with other people. You can’t do everything on your own!
As an entrepreneur myself, I find that it really is a personal and intellectual fulfillment to be able to create an activity, to be able to make it profitable and sustainable. It is a personal challenge that brings a lot of satisfaction when you succeed.
FOCUS : The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative between the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. Its strategy is to help civil society to propose innovative approaches and solutions to solve local problems, with a focus on biodiversity hotspots. They work in areas considered to be the richest in biodiversity and the most threatened.
In January 2018, Miarakap partnered with CEPF to implement an innovative system to support private companies that have a positive impact on the protection of biodiversity in Madagascar. CEPF supports Miarakap in three main areas: implementing the fund's environmental strategy, identifying and supporting SMEs and start-ups with high positive environmental impact, and advocating with the private sector on environmental and biodiversity conservation issues.
Thanks to this partnership, Miarakap was able to formalize its environmental impact strategy and to train its investment team to better identify conservation issues during the training process for SMEs in the dealflow. In this context, 22 companies with a positive impact on Madagascar’s biodiversity were identified by the team, including 5 that benefited from a thorough study.
Among these 5 companies, Vatel received the approval from the Miarakap Investment Committee for an equity investment. As part of the partnership between CEPF and Miarakap, Vatel received technical assistance to support the entrepreneur in the implementation of pre-investment actions. Vatel is part of this project thanks to its role in raising the awareness and training future managers of tourist establishments on environmental issues related to the tourism sector and its contribution to income generation in rural areas.
Miarakap also participates in multiple events related to environmental issues and is an example of the private sector investor’s engagement on biodiversity conversation issues.
Read more about CEPF : https://www.cepf.net/