The Business Year

Hélder Araújo

ANGOLA - Real Estate & Construction

Hélder Araújo

Administrator & Board Member, Grupo Casais

Bio

Hélder Araújo has a degree in international economic and political relations from the School of Economics and Management at the University of Minho. He is a board member of the Grupo Casais, a group present in 16 countries with 4,500 employees and a turnover of EUR520 million. In his long career, he has worked in several countries such as Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and Angola, where he reorganized local operations and enabled the launch of new business areas, both in the industrial sector and in real estate development.

Making strategic investments in the last few years in the areas of carpentry, steel works, and facades, Grupo Casais is able to provide its know-how and expertise to grow even further in the coming years.

With construction and engineering projects all across Africa, what is the mission of Grupo Casais?

Our mission is to manage with expertise and innovation privileging strategic partnerships and new markets, grounded on a culture of excellence and sustainability. To be a reference in engineering and construction, working together with our partners and clients in making a social contribution. We have many activities specifically targeting social responsibility that go beyond constructing roads, bridges, or buildings. To achieve that we have to provide education and sustenance to the community and especially to our employees.

What is the economic performance of the different business lines operating within Grupo Casais?

For us, it depends on the markets. We have understood from the outset that within Angola we need vertical integration. We have a need to control every process of construction contracts as well as the specialties required by that, spanning concrete works, electrics, plumbing, mechanical and all design materials. Many companies work in other markets with sub-contracts so they can hire electricians and carpenters, for example. We have proceeded with the vertical integration, such that we cover all services along the line. It all depends on the maturity of the market, the competitors present, and the available opportunities. We decided in 1999 to create this volume due to the lack of expertise. Accordingly, we employed and trained staff, which allowed us to do everything internally. That strategy has been a key factor of our success. 

What do your projects such as Zenith Towers, Av. Amilcar Cabral Building, and Luanda Towers represent for Grupo Casais?

We have projects in different sectors. There are residential buildings as well as water supply plants, and treatment facilities. We have developed infrastructure projects including roads and bridges, as well as in the energy sector. Our main expertise is civil works; however, we try to diversify our business with our know-how. Year after year, we try to gather greater know-how from different areas to develop our different construction departments and other industries where we are present. It is a growing process for the company. We have sporting facilities, commercial spaces and residential buildings as well. Each of them requires its own expertise to be constructed. These projects require the skills from within the company, and also, good partners. We work with our partners on a long-term basis, so the trust and confidence are there. And as we are open to the markets, we do not have exclusivity. However, when it comes to finding our partners, we have a due diligence and compliance process in place.

Can you give us an overview on the future of the sector?

In Angola, oil and gas was the most relevant sector for GDP. Now this is changing, and we see good progress elsewhere, as the government is supporting agriculture and industry. However, infrastructure has fundamental importance for an economy. We need better roads, and infrastructure will be more significant than it has been in recent years. Civil construction will still be relevant, yet infrastructure will give the most value and contribute the most to the country. Healthcare and schools are also important. Everything else should be done in parallel. 

What are the objectives of Grupo Casais for the year ahead?

We are going through very difficult periods, but we managed to keep our companies stable. We could maintain our contracts and our employees. Therefore, the future that we see is to support the country. We expect to grow in 2022. We have made huge investments over the past few years in the industry of carpentry, steel works, and facades. But we have also invested in agriculture. Over the past two years we have focused on investments, and in the coming years we expect the business to mature. We definitely see opportunities over the next few years in construction sector as well in the real estate arena.

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