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Christopher Roy Garland: Building a More Prosperous Botswana

Christopher Roy Garland has called Botswana home for more than 30 years.

For most of that time, he has been principal and managing director of Fidelity Indemnity (Pty) Limited, a diversified business services firm that advises individuals and corporations doing business in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which covers most of the southern third of the African continent.

A native of England, Mr. Garland has seen quite a bit during his time in Africa, and he recently agreed to discuss some of the highs and lows of his career with us.

What drew you to Africa?

A sense of possibility. I was fortunate to grow up in the U.K., with all the advantages that it brought, but I didn’t see myself making a life there. I completed my education in Southern Africa, and one thing led to another, and now I’m more than three decades on in Botswana. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

How has Botswana changed since you relocated there?

There has always been a large British presence in Botswana, and I found it very easy to fit in with this very integrated community.

During my time here, Botswana has become much more connected to the rest of the world and much more economically diverse as well. It’s truly a shining example of what good governance and sound investment can produce in Southern Africa.

What accomplishment are you most proud of (so far)?

I’m not sure it qualifies as a single accomplishment, but I’m very proud of my work advising the Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC). Together, we helped push forward several major infrastructure projects that have been critical to Botswana’s continued growth.

To what do you credit your success?

I’m a planner by nature. While I appreciate the importance of being nimble and adaptive, and responsive to change, I’m not big on strategic shifts for their own sake. These often cause more problems than they solve.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give young entrepreneurs?

Don’t rush into a career for the wrong reasons. To the extent that I’ve been successful in my life as “Christopher Roy Garland of Botswana, managing director of Fidelity Indemnity (Pty) Limited,” it’s because I didn’t set out to have a particular title or role or endgame in life. That might sound contradictory, but I’d swear by it.

How do you spend your free time?

I’ve logged quite a few flight hours over the years and still enjoy getting up in the air. I’m also closely involved with The Equinox Trust, among other charities. But mostly, I enjoy spending quiet time with my family. I’ve learned to appreciate the simple things in life.

What trend or trends have you most excited about the future of Botswana and Africa?

Botswana has long been an example for other emerging economies in Africa, and we’re beginning to see that momentum build on itself in places like Kenya and Namibia. As global firms look for new places to invest, we expect African countries — particularly SADC nations — to top the list.