Cameroonian Mathurin Kamdem

My profile of the week is Cameroonian Mathurin Kamdem

The Man behind the Mall

William Pollard a 19th century English writer said “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable”. The biggest shopping Mall in Central Africa was just inaugurated in Douala, Cameroon. The spirit of innovation, creativity and the incentive for improvement definitely drove the man behind the rudder of this unique project. He is my profile of the week. He is the Man behind the Mall.

Cameroonian Mathurin Kamdem

The brain behind this imposing infrastructure built on 18,000 m2, with 160 shops, combining commercial and leisure activities, is Mathurin Kamdem. This engineer quit an enviable senior management position at Bouygues in France to put his expertise at the service of his country. Through this Mall he is creating 4,500 jobs. A first-time investor he has already embarked on the second face of the project, the construction of a five-star hotel and an office park opposite the Mall.

To put together a collection of independent stores services and a parking area conceived constructed and maintained by a management firm as a unit is not an easy proposition.

Mathurin Kamdem raised funds from the project partner, British investment fund Actis which is a leading investor in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America. It currently manages US$15bn in assets, operating through 17 0ffices globally. The Douala Grand Mall & Business Park, whose current occupancy rate is close to 70% (with a projection of 100% by the end of 2020), will inject a total of XAF30 billion into the local economy through various equipment purchases and service payments.

Cameroonian Mathurin Kamdem

For weeks Cameroonians have been thronging from all over the country to discover this monument. True, many others have gone there to have their very first adventure on an escalator. Videos have gone viral of visitors screaming, falling and being rescued as they “daringly” attempted to get their first ride on an escalator. It is projected that the Mall will have 300,000 visitors a month.

Doing business in Cameroon, is not exactly a picnic, so when Mr. Kamden started talking about his project many felt it was just another story. He actually graduated as an agricultural engineer from the University of Dschang, Cameroon from where he also acquired a Masters, in water management. In the thick of all of this he has found the time to register in Germany and Belgium for a Ph. D in climate change. While his passion for innovation and creativity have blossomed into the Douala Mall, and the world of mega investments, it has not stopped from continuing to pursue his academic ambitions. It will be interesting to see the direction to which the combination of these two tracks will propel him.
The current occupancy of the Douala Grand Mall & Business Park is close to 70% with a projection of 100% by the end of 2020. Looking like a mini village, it has a multiplex cinema centre of five theatres, with 1000 seats. There is a beauty and spa centre on 750 square meters, to add to 160 shops and 22 restaurants. Spaces for banks and mobile phone operators have been duly allocated.
So, the achievement of the man behind the Mall can be best explained by five Cs. Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, Consistency and Competence. Confidence is the most important of these, because it is the fuel you will always need on your journey towards success. Bravo, Mr. Mathurin Kamdem.