Marco, could you please introduce yourself?
My specialisation is in the training and consulting of technical issues related to dialysis projects. I was born in South Africa but most of my career spent in Germany, working with market leaders like Fresenius and B. Braun for 18 years. I studied biomedical engineering at the technical university of Pretoria and completed my master equivalent in Germany at the Fachhochschule Gießen, and found myself consumed by the dialysis world straight away. I had the opportunity to contribute to small and large dialysis projects all over the world, from Surinam to Chile, or Senegal to Ethiopia. Especially the African and South American continents I have seen major developments in the dialysis field. It has become a personal mission of mine to help these countries maintain European standards and provide patients with the same quality of care you would expect in developed countries which resulted in the establishment of the company Fürst Solutions in 2018.
You worked for Fresenius Medical Care and B. Braun for 18 years. These companies are ones of the biggest world PPP dialysis providers. What are dialysis PPPs, how do they work and why do we need them?
PPP’s are a very interesting business model, with great benefits to all parties involved. Especially in developing countries where governments and private companies are battling with issues like corruption, mismanagement, lack of education, lack of funds, etc. Companies like Fresenius and B.Braun supply the PPP dialysis projects (also called provider business ) that the government desperately needs. It’s very close cooperation between public and private partners. The government provides the patients, the private companies provide the infrastructure and educated staff and the community benefits from first world dialysis services. There are many other benefits, like the education of nursing staff and doctors, the creation of jobs in other segments of the governmental hospitals, or even far-reaching benefits, like nutritional programs for the community, where patients open kitchens that cook for the patients and their families. There are countless examples.
What are the best practices, failures that could be avoided with PPP dialysis projects when designing such projects? What public and private partners should keep in mind?
It’s extremely important to have a technical team involved from the beginning of the project. I have seen it a thousand times: projects are started and plans are made by architects who don’t really have the experience in designing dialysis facilities, and before you know it, a dialysis unit is designed, that is impossible to build. This causes a lot of extra (unnecessary) costs.
Another interesting cultural aspect of Africa, that many European companies (private sector) do not take the power of being present in Africa into consideration. “The guy who shows up gets the job!” It’s hard to believe, but even if that company has no experience, they will get the business, just because they are there. This, of course, makes PPP’s a tricky job since the projects usually take a long time to get off the ground. Market presence should always be considered before projects like these are started.
The third thing I often see in developing countries are financial restrictions. Private companies who are able to provide funding of some sort, or have the right contacts to do so, have a great advantage. This makes PPP’s particularly interesting because project proposals have to be considered from multiple parties: the government institution, the private company and the financial institute providing the funding, all having their own requirements. It’s a balancing act of note.
You are running a social network platform. Tell us more about it. How did you come up with this idea and what is the purpose and current status of your platform?
Our company Fürst Solutions GmbH recently created a social network platform Afri-EU. Europe has so many resources and knowledge to offer and Africa has so many ideas and motivation. The Afri-EU platform offers a virtual bridge for African and European tech entrepreneurs, tech start-ups, well-established tech companies, business angels, investors, consultants, etc. to connect and network.
The Afri-EU platform offers many services which support a diversity of tech enterprises to transform their business idea into a successful business. It enables the tech groups to present themselves and their business ideas or already established businesses. People can exchange and share news, personal blog posts, interesting articles, etc. The social network also has a marketplace which allows members to buy and sell services, for example, consultations. The e-learning feature offers learning opportunities through online training material.
Why you have joined PPPHealth4All and where do you see a value of PPPHealth4All?
I am excited to join PPPHealth4All because I see a lot of potential in participating in new projects, especially in Africa. It is clear that PPP’s are developing faster and I would like to be part of this. I look forward to exploring the network in your PPPHealth4All community and finding new opportunities.
Interview by Natalia Korchakova-Heeb