“If you can make it in Africa, you can make it anywhere”

Inemarie Dekker
May 28, 2018 · 3 min read

Jean-François van Boxmeer (56) is CEO of Dutch beer brewer Heineken. And in 2012 he was elected as ‘Top Executive’ of the year by the Dutch Association of Stockholders.

His first decade working for Heineken was in Africa. Van Boxmeer started as young as 23 as a trainee. Within 2 years he’s appointed as sales director in Rwanda. As even the best trainees never got a senior position like this right from the start, it is broadly assumed that father-in-law Bodart (manager of Ibecor between 1971 to 1986 — a Belgian subsidiary — Heineken is still using to avoid taxes) used his influence within Heineken.

Olivier van Beemen shows in his book ‘Heineken in Africa’ how Van Boxmeer got from sales director in Rwanda to the position of CEO. He seems to live under the slogan of: “If you can make it in Africa, you can make it anywhere.”

Picture: Afrika kriebelt onder de huid van topman Heineken.

Among other things those are:

· After Rwanda, Van Boxmeer started working in Zaire (currently DRC) — first again as a sales director and 3 years later as a top executive. He managed to double the sales figures in Congo.

· Van Boxmeer had a direct relation with dictator Mubutu (responsible for tortures and random murders, lootings and plunder in his country). He has been invited several times to Mobutu’s palace, and was present at his son’s wedding with a gift of 1.000 crates of beer and soda.

· Van Boxmeer has a relation of years with a Heineken event host (aka promo-girl: promoting beer for a small salary and often forced to have sex with Heineken’s managers). After the start of the relationship, she becomes a merchandise-shop manager.

· African governments receive in total €150 billion euro (!) less because of tax evasion of companies in Afrika like Heineken, according to the ngos Christian Aid and SOMO. (The article doesn’t mention how much this is for Heineken.)

· Heineken’s Human Right’s Policy lags far behind. In the 2017 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark Heineken scores last from all other Dutch companies in the benchmark. “It is like Shell twenty years ago, they haven’t thought about their own vision, they just react when an incidence occurs,” says Egbert Wesseling from ngo Pax.

· According Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant received Van Boxmeer the biggest bonus and has the biggest wage gap with an average worker at Heineken. He earns 324 times as much.

The ‘green’ ASN Bank stopped investments in Heineken after latest publicity.

Read all: Afrika kriebelt onder de huid van topman Heineken.

All about Africa

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