Derick Fonderson: The Entrepreneur Empowering Africa, One Payroll at a Time

Top 10 Visionary Business Leaders in Africa 2024

In the heart of Africa, a seasoned professional with over 21 years of experience in Finance, Tax, and Human Resources, Derick Fonderson, embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that would transform the landscape of HR and outsourcing services. Leveraging his extensive expertise and fueled by a vision for innovation, he founded Intel HR Consulting Plc (Intel HRC) in 2015 with just a laptop and Excel as his tools. Derick rapidly assembled a skilled team dedicated to delivering top-tier recruitment, payroll, and employment services. swiftly elevating Intel HRC to the forefront of service providers in Cameroon by 2017. In the same year, the expansion continued with the establishment of the Intel HRC Yaoundé branch office, further solidifying the company’s presence in the region

Intel HRC’s success led to the creation of Intel Outsourcing Services in 2017 to meet the growing demand for bookkeeping, project fund management, and tax compliance. By end of 2017 the company decided to invest  in the upgrade of the payroll and accounting software, showcasing a commitment to efficiency and innovation. His leadership fostered a culture of continuous improvement, which was marked by introducing a constant training program that same year.

To ensure transparency and accountability, external auditors (Big 4) were appointed for both companies in 2018. Under Derick’s guidance, Intel HRC continued its remarkable growth trajectory, expanding Intel Outsourcing Services to Côte d’Ivoire (2018), Mali and DR Congo (2020), Senegal (2021), Burkina Faso (2023), and Niger (2024). In 2024, Derick further solidified the company’s commitment to good governance by establishing boards of directors for both Intel HRC and Intel Outsourcing Services. The Intel group now holds 40 direct employees and provides payroll services to over 2500 staff members across a client base of more than 60. This nine-year evolution embodies Derick’s visionary leadership and the unwavering dedication to excellence permeating the company’s DNA.

The enterprising trailblazer celebrates this milestone, stating, “This remarkable journey reflects our commitment to excellence, growth, and impactful service delivery.” This cover story takes us through Derick Fonderson’s inspiring annals from his personal and professional lives. Each chapter, milestone, and turning point nudges one to stay firm in their pursuit of excellence in their desired field.

Fundamental Factors Behind the Intel Group’s Success

This success story isn’t built on luck. Several key factors propelled it. Through eight-plus years of experience, CEO Derick honed his leadership, communication, and strategic vision to guide a team of 40 employees and cultivate relationships with over 60 clients. Building and nurturing these client relationships, founded on understanding needs and delivering value, have been instrumental under his guidance.

Continuous learning and adaptation to industry trends and technological advancements have kept the company at the forefront. Upholding high ethical standards across diverse operations, including payroll for 2500+ staff, the Intel group has cultivated trust with its stakeholders. Finally, the ability to scale from a one-person operation to two companies spanning seven African countries indicates Derick’s exceptional guidance and vision that has propelled the Intel Group’s growth, demonstrating its financial acumen, a knack for building teams, and an ability to adapt to unique market challenges.

The Entrepreneurial Journey – Where Preparation Meets Opportunity

As the saying goes, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” Derick’s career journey is a testament to this adage. It began in payroll computation and tax filing, drawing on his accounting and taxation education. However, a layoff in 2013 at Baker Hughes (due to a company-wide restructuring) unexpectedly steered him towards entrepreneurship. He later joined the Managing Director position at a local HR firm. Within two years, through this role, he honed his management skills and prepared him to seek new opportunities in the burgeoning African outsourcing market.

Recognizing Africa’s vast potential, Derick’s investigation revealed that its abundant natural resources and growing workforce make it a prime location for global businesses. To capitalize on this, he identified key areas for innovation: employment services to help companies manage their workforce; payroll management to ensure accurate and timely compensation; project fund management to ensure efficient oversight of development projects; bookkeeping to maintain accurate financial records; and tax filing to navigate complex regulations.

What sets the Intel group apart is its commitment to filling identified gaps with a values-driven approach. They prioritize integrity, client-centric solutions, innovation, and social impact. Their operational excellence is evident in their strict adherence to compliance, transparent costing, independent legal entities in each jurisdiction for tailored solutions, and local expertise in tax, labor, social laws, and cultural norms. Additionally, their ability to handle multiple currencies (euros, US dollars, British pounds, Australian dollars) seamlessly facilitates cross-border transactions, showcasing their agility in the global market.

Operational Excellence Across Borders: A Localized Approach

Navigating the complexities of operating across seven diverse African nations requires a nuanced and adaptable approach. Derick and his team have embraced this challenge, establishing a unique operational model prioritizing local expertise and tailored solutions. By maintaining independent legal entities in each country and employing local personnel, they have cultivated a deep understanding of the cultural, legal, and logistical landscape in Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, and Niger. This localized approach allows them to respond effectively to the specific needs of stakeholders in each nation, ensuring compliance with local regulations and fostering strong relationships with tax authorities, social security bodies, labor offices, employees, and clients.

Underlining these unique strategies, Derick explains, “Our commitment to adaptability and responsiveness drives our success across these varied contexts.”

Approach to Accurate and Timely Payroll Management

Derick’s payroll unit ensures accuracy and timeliness in payroll processing through a multifaceted style. “Our commitment to precision ensures that payroll processing remains accurate, reliable, and timely,” shares the veteran. They have a team of dedicated key account managers who specialize in their assigned clients, allowing for a swift 24-hour turnaround time for payroll tasks. A detailed, collaboratively agreed-upon payroll calendar is followed to outline crucial dates for receiving changes, running payroll, and disbursing salaries.

They employ robust, licensed payroll software configured to comply with regional laws and utilize secure online banking channels for timely salary disbursement. Rigorous data validation and cross-checking between payroll and accounting teams further enhance accuracy. Plus, through regular training and proactive updates to the payroll calculator, they ensure compliance with evolving regulations.

Dual Leadership, Double Impact: Derick’s Strategic Management of Intel HRC and Intel Outsourcing

This astute leader adeptly balances his responsibilities at Intel HRC and Intel Outsourcing by adhering to the guiding principles and responsibilities of each company. While Intel HRC focuses on employment, payroll, and recruitment services in Cameroon, Intel Outsourcing specializes in project fund management, bookkeeping, and tax compliance for NGOs in Cameroon and offers a broader range of services beyond the country.

Derick shares that their in-house and client-specific escalation matrix ensures efficient issue resolution. He stresses the importance of clear and constant communication, explaining that dedicated staff in both companies have distinct roles. The management team handles day-to-day operations, while the leadership team focuses on strategic planning. He further explains that reporting is structured based on country, client, key account manager, and services, with weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual assessments and monthly personnel evaluations to enhance performance.

This business executive also shares that collaboration and synergy are promoted through regular communication between leadership teams from both companies. They discuss opportunities, successes, and challenges while prioritizing leveraging synergies. Shared resources, such as accounting and payroll software, access to online training portals, and best practices, contribute to improved efficiency. Additionally, Derick highlights that Intel Outsourcing teams provide essential services, including finance, sales, tax, and legal support, to Intel HRC.

Multifaceted Expertise driving Growth and Innovation

Derick’s career is a testament of his multifaceted expertise. He effortlessly navigates the intricacies of recruitment, payroll management, donor fund accounting, business development, risk assessment, and tax planning. When asked how he leverages this diverse skill set to propel growth and innovation within his organizations, he attributes his success to his extensive experience and background, honing his ability to understand and effectively address his client’s unique needs deeply.

His exceptional talent for identifying and nurturing the right individuals has enabled him to assemble a high-performing team that he proudly proclaims is the cornerstone of Intel’s current achievements. Recognized as one of the “Top 10 Visionary Business Leaders in Africa 2024,” Derick stresses the critical importance of continuous learning and development in today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape. By staying at the forefront of industry trends and innovations, he ensures that his organizations remain agile, competitive, and well-equipped to thrive in an ever-changing business environment.

“Experience has taught me the importance of risk management,” the sagacious enterpriser says, “We must consistently assess risks in relation to stakeholders, analyze them thoroughly, and proactively mitigate potential issues.”

Derick believes it is essential to document these risks hierarchically because their business operates in multiple jurisdictions with varying dynamics.

Proactive Approach to Staying Ahead in the Industry

Derick explains that their dedication to excellence drives them to stay abreast of industry trends and developments, leveraging a multi-pronged approach. They actively subscribe to industry newsletters, ensuring they know the latest happenings, innovations, and emerging trends. Membership in trade organizations across their operational jurisdictions provides them with valuable networking opportunities and access to industry-specific insights through conferences, workshops, and forums. Licensed Employer of Record (EOR) providers benefit from privileged access to government statistics, which inform their decision-making and strategic planning. They maintain compliance with licensing requirements to stay informed about legal and regulatory changes. Regular attendance at seminars and training events, at least once a year in each operational jurisdiction, covers topics like compliance updates, best practices, and industry-specific insights. Moreover, their team members are encouraged to continuously learn and research to enhance their collective expertise and stay ahead in their respective fields.

Overcoming Challenges in Building Multiple Businesses

Setting up a business isn’t easy, and managing multiple ventures becomes even more complex. Derick has faced his own set of challenges on the path to success. As a newcomer to the industry, gaining trust and market share initially proved difficult. However, his team’s dedication to excellence and the support of early clients allowed him and his team to slowly build repeat business and referrals, eventually establishing their presence.

Another significant obstacle was the need to prefund payroll for clients. He shares how many clients expected upfront funding, but limited cash reserves and difficulty securing credit lines or invoice discounts made it unsustainable. To tackle this, they made a strategic shift in their business model, now requiring payment from clients before releasing salaries, especially for those unresponsive to payment requests. They currently prefund only about 10% of payroll, with exceptions as needed.

The next on the list is that implementing the right processes and procedures proved challenging. They sought the guidance of external consultants, and while progress has been made, they remain steadfast in their commitment to continuous improvement. Their initial reliance on Excel spreadsheets for operations led to issues with turnaround time and errors. As their financial situation improved, they made a gradual but significant investment in software solutions, provided laptops to team members, and continued enhancing their IT infrastructure.

Lastly, he struggled to communicate their vision, strategies, and goals early on. However, through collaboration with the team and external consultants, they have overcome these communication hurdles and now have a well-defined vision for their organization.

A Visionary’s Outlook: The Future of Outsourcing and HR Consulting in Africa

As a farsighted business leader, Derick sees the global human resource consulting market poised for significant expansion. The future of outsourcing and HR consulting in Africa is set for substantial growth, driven by demographic shifts, technological progress, and complex business needs.

Despite challenges like regulatory compliance and data security, firms that can handle these issues expect significant growth, with an estimated 10% annual growth rate. By keeping up with trends and technology, African firms are becoming key contributors to the continent’s economic development, offering services that ensure efficient and compliant workforce management

Derick, however, remains optimistic and says: “We anticipate significant year-on-year growth, especially as we continue our expansion journey. Our estimated capitalized annual growth rate is 10%.”

This insightful expert recognizes the significant opportunities in the African HR consulting market, fueled by both local factors and international movements. He feels that strategic planning and flexibility are essential to thrive in this environment.

Derick’s Proudest Milestones: Building Companies and Empowering Lives

In the world of business, true success is often equated with profits. Derick, however, defies this conventional wisdom, as his proudest milestones stem from building thriving companies and empowering countless individuals. His brainchildren, Intel HR Consulting and Intel Outsourcing Services have blossomed into industry giants within a mere nine years, a testament to his visionary leadership and relentless pursuit of excellence. The expansion of these companies across seven African nations further solidifies their impact, creating a ripple effect that uplifts livelihoods and empowers individuals.

Derick’s commitment to nurturing talent is evident in the 50 staff members he has trained, many of whom have progressed to senior roles in multinational corporations. This legacy of mentorship, coupled with the positive impact on 40 households through his current workforce, showcases this accomplished entrepreneur’s staunch belief in empowering others and creating a lasting legacy in the business landscape.

Furthermore, his journey highlights the importance of financial resilience and strong stakeholder relationships. Consistently reporting profits and settling all liabilities underscores his financial discipline and tenacity. Maintaining excellent relationships with bankers, clients, and government entities reflects his professionalism and trustworthiness, solidifying his reputation in the industry.

Vision for Transforming Africa’s Business Landscape

Derick envisions Intel HR Consulting Plc as the leading staffing partner and employer of choice in Cameroon. At the same time, Intel Outsourcing Services is poised to become the premier outsourcing firm across Africa, specializing in Employer of Record (EOR) services, payroll management, project fund management and compliance.

He plans to achieve this by expanding to 20 African countries by 2031. To support this ambitious growth, this judicious CEO prioritizes strengthening governance through experienced board members and attracting strategic investors who can contribute both capital and expertise. This dynamic and versatile method showcases Derick and his ventures’ persistent drive to revolutionize and uplift the African business scene. As he aptly puts it, “In pursuit of these goals, we remain dedicated to excellence, integrity, and sustainable growth.”

Message for Aspiring African Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

With his wealth of experience, the alacritous entrepreneur leader Derick advises inspiring African entrepreneurs and business leaders to choose ventures they are passionate about and have expertise in, which compels resilience and commitment. He accentuates being actively involved and taking a hands-on approach, especially in the early stages.

Understanding stakeholders’ needs is crucial for tailoring offerings effectively. Derick stresses upholding professional integrity by honoring commitments and exceeding expectations. As a pragmatic mentor, he advises these aspirants to define a clear mission and vision and regularly review and adapt them. Derick suggests they seek guidance from experienced mentors who can provide valuable insights.

He also indicates that investing in continuous training and leveraging technology are key. Lastly, as a seasoned businessman, Derick cautions these prospects against excessive credit and suggests investing idle cash wisely. “When borrowing,” he points out, “carefully evaluate whether the expected returns from your investment will cover both the loan amount and interest within the agreed timeframe.”