Lenovo’s local operation looks after the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Indian Ocean Islands (IOI) countries – but, unlike many of its counterparts, it has a dedicated team ensuring that customers in the region get personal care.

Abhay Adhikari, territory manager: SADC and IOI at Lenovo, has 14 different countries under his wing, covering the full range of products and services from Lenovo.

“Lenovo is 100% dedicated to the region,” he says. “In fact, I think we are the only vendor that has this level of commitment.”

Adhikari moved into this position about 18 months ago, and has already built up an enviable infrastructure and resources around the company’s enterprise, consumer, commercial and mobile lines of business.

A network of distributors takes care of logistics and support functions, while Lenovo helps to develop reseller partners in terms of skills.

“In addition, we have a very good authorised warranty services network in each country,” Adhikari says. “This means that issues can be dealt with immediately, in-country.”

As well as standard channel offerings such as education on products and a reward programme, Lenovo organises regular workshops for its partners. Resellers can bring their customers along to learn more about what Lenovo can do for them.

Importantly, Lenovo invests in all the countries in the region – not just the two or three big economies that are targeted by most IT companies.

“There is a lot of work that’s needed to develop the economies of these countries,” says Adhikari. “The whole SADC region has a population of about 80-milllion to 84-million and four of the countries account for 70% of that.

“But we have invested skills and resources in all of the countries, because our target is to help build the whole region.”

While growth in many of the African economies has slowed over the last couple of years, Adhikari believes Lenovo’s investment in the SADC region will pay dividends.

“Yes, there are challenges,” he says “Outside of South Africa, the biggest market in the region is Angola and the low oil price is having an effect there. Zimbabwe is another big economy that is struggling in terms of foreign exchange, and Mozambique is having similar problems.

“So the four largest markets in the region all have some social and economic challenges. But Lenovo isn’t running away; we are still there and continue to look after our customers and partners,” Adhikara adds.

“We believe these are temporary challenges and they will go away. It won’t be tomorrow, but they will pick up in a year or so, and these economies will come back.

“Lenovo is in it for the long haul,” he stresses. “We want to be with these countries in tough times as well, not just when the business is growing.”

The commitment is paying off, and Lenovo has already been involved in a number of big successful implementations in the region.

One of these is an m-farmer solution in Namibia that helps farmers access the information and resources they need to be successful.

In Mauritius, the ministries of finance and education are using Lenovo solutions.

“We are getting some good penetration into the SADC markets,” Adhikari says.

The very fact that it’s present in the region is a major contributor to the company’s success, he adds. “We have a team of four people that is travelling within the region every day. It makes a big difference when you have someone in-country rather than a remote sales team, or a distributor that’s been appointed to move your products.

“Because we are actively there, we are in front of the customer, talking to users, service providers and universities. We are actively helping our customers to come up with solutions.”

Another differentiator that Lenovo brings to the SADC region is its financial services offering. This service is currently available in Namibia and Botswana, but will be rolled out into other territories over time.

Additional services that Lenovo offers in SADC include factory-level integration, asset tagging and the LanSchool classroom management software aimed specifically at the education sector and which is pre-loaded at zero cost.

Education and skills development is a big focus across the region, Adhikari adds. “Young people account for about 60% of the population in SADC, and it’s important that we focus on this fact.

“We want our technology to be easily available to young people across Africa. And this means we have to ensure that youngsters have easy access to our technology.”

To effectively do this, Lenovo has to ensure that the correct stock is available and that it enables good communication through marketing and media.

“I believe that the youth in Africa is the future of the continent,” Adhikari says. “These are the guys that will develop the economies and, in a matter of a year or two things will change – and change big time.