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The 10 best companies to work for in East Africa

East Africa best employer

Let’s face it, any old job just doesn’t cut it anymore. Smart, savvy employees like yourself are looking for more than just a pay check.

You want a thriving “culture”, growth opportunities, benefits packages that go beyond the basics, and generous vacation days. It helps if the company has a solid mission you can get behind 100% and hires great people that inspire you.

These 10 employers have responded: They offer fair compensation, solid career development opportunities, family-friendly policies, and work-life balance programs.

We’ve combed the web, reviewed employer rankings, and researched companies’ policies to find the 10 companies in East Africa that should be on your employment radar.

Here are the best companies to work for in East Africa:

DHL Express

Logistics group DHL Express reigns as one of East Africa’s top employers. Sure parcels and printed documents may sound a bit dry, but these guys really go the extra mile when it comes to their employees. So much so, that the Top Employers Institute (TEI), an indepedent research firm, dubbed DHL Express a Top Employer in Africa — the exclusive status was also extended to the company’s national operations in Kenya and Uganda.

Charles Brewer, managing director of DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa, says that having a motivated workforce is a key pillar of their strategy. The company is known for its exceptional employee development programs, training, and engagement. High-potential employees are paired with a mentor in DHL’s International Mentoring Program. The company also offers an online learning portal, where employees can access everything from language classes to management methods. Did we mention they offer competitive pay and an opportunity work with people from all over the world?

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East African Breweries Ltd

For obvious reasons, working for East Africa’s largest alcohol beverage company sounds pretty darn good, and East African Breweries Ltd (EABL)  is no exception. But don’t expect to find boozy slackers here — they’re serious about business and employee development. In a 2014 Deloitte survey, EABL workers voted the brewery the best company to work for in Kenya.

The company’s workforce is particularly pleased with the employee-friendly work environment, solid career-progression paths, and competitive compensation and benefit packages.

Need more inspiration? Their guiding purpose is to, “Celebrate life every day, everywhere”.

Although EABL is headquartered in Kenya, the company has subsidiaries and distributors in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Century Bottling Company  

There must be something in the water at these beverage companies. Uganda’s Century Bottling Company, owned by Coca-Cola Sabco, scooped up the Employer of the Year Award from the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) in 2011, after two years as first runner-up.

What’s so special about a bottling facility you ask? Well, generous medical insurance and travel allowances for one thing and progressive talent management strategies for another. The company also promotes family-friendly policies and work-life balance initiatives.

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Unilever East Africa

When it comes to employee health and well being, consumer goods company Unilever is arguably the best employer the region. The same 2011 FUE survey that crowned Century Bottling Company as Uganda’s top employer also singled out Unilever’s medical benefits package as among the country’s best. Unilever Uganda provides medical coverage not only to employees, but also their spouses and dependents.

This year, the TEI awarded Unilever Kenya its coveted Top Employers Africa and Top Employers Kenya certifications. The reason?

According to TEI, “Our comprehensive independent research revealed that Unilever Kenya provides exceptional employee conditions, nurtures and develops talent throughout all levels of the organization and has demonstrated its leadership status in the HR environment, always striving to optimize its employment practices and to develop its employees.” Sounds pretty good, huh?

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MTN Uganda

Telecommunications giant MTN has built its reputation on outstanding offerings in human resources. In 2014, MTN Uganda scooped up the Best Human Resources Information Systems Award from FUE. In 2013, recent graduates voted MTN the most-preferred employer in a survey by the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences.

Michael Sekadde, MTN Uganda’s general manager of human resources, says the company’s openness is key.  “We believe that making employees aware of what is going on within the company can strengthen the employee commitment level. They don’t work just for a pay check or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals,” he said in a press release.

Google Kenya

Google tops best-employer lists worldwide. We’ve all heard the stories of gorgeous offices, free gourmet food, and complimentary massages. Alas, those insane benefits vary by location but no matter where you are, Google provides generous maternity and paternity leave, free travel insurance, complimentary legal advice, and reimbursement for career-related courses.

You’re also guaranteed to be working with cutting-edge technology and brilliant people. So if you thrive on being an early adopter who hangs around, well, other early adopters, then it doesn’t get much better than Google.

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The Serena Group

The Serena Group operates 32 luxury resorts, safari lodges, and hotels throughout East Africa. While we’d love to just lounge around the pool at one of their super plush hotels, we understand that doesn’t pay the bills, much less the restaurant tab we’d be tempted to rack up. Luckily, the hotel offers remarkable career advancement opportunities along with competitive compensation and benefits.

Then you’ve got the fringe perks, which include comprehensive employee training programs, a free staff medical clinic on each Serena property, a pension and life insurance scheme, and an employee savings and credit group. Did we mention they also provide accommodation, meals, and transport for staff at lodges?

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Nation Media Group

Most of us associate media jobs with long hours and low pay. But East and Central Africa’s largest media group, Nation Media Group (NMG) was named among the top five best companies to work for in Kenya in 2012 and 2013 by consulting firm Deloitte East Africa.

NMG offers competitive pay and benefits, but its key strengths include workplace culture, organizational ethics, human resource processes, and employee confidence. Plus, employees are encouraged to share their ideas and feedback, which NMG takes feedback seriously. If you want to feel like your voice is being heard within a company and a regional audience, this is the place to be.

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Techno Brain

We think tech firms are pretty cool, and Techno Brain, a leading software solutions provider, fits the bill. In 2011, the firm was listed among the top 10 mid-sized companies in Tanzania, based on a survey by Mwananchi Communications Ltd, KPMG, and Tanzania National Bank of Commerce.

Manoj Shanker, CEO of Techno Brain Group, makes it clear that the company’s culture is key. “The top 10 ranking confirms the company’s commitment to bringing about innovation and its belief in a work culture that values creativity, teamwork and leadership,” he said in a statement.

If you happen to be following Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s  career playbook, you’ll know she recommends grabbing a seat on a “rocket ship” (aka a fast-growing company). Well, this might be your prime spacecraft seat.  Last year, Deloitte recognized Techno Brain as the second fastest-growing company in Africa with its Fast50 Africa award.

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Karisimbi Business Partners

We’ll admit, generous compensation makes our ears perk up. And Karisimbi Business Partners (KBP), a management consulting firm in Rwanda, has built a reputation for performance-based payment and fairly rewarding employees.

Even better, employees are surrounded by experienced and driven colleagues. Cofounder Greg Urquhart makes it clear in his blog that selecting the best of the best benefits everyone. “Top performers like to work with other top performers.  If you lower your hiring standards and accept to bring in mediocre employees, the pressure on and experience of your top employees will also suffer and they may begin to consider other employment options, ” he writes.

Plus, they may just be another rocket ship. In 2012, the Rwanda Development Board recognized KBP as seventh among Rwanda’s top 100 fastest-growing mid-size companies. Better get on board while you can!

Career Opportunities

By Robin Okuthe


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