The Orphans is mostly set in the rural Tanzania I remember from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.
Max Matham is a self-employed freelance forensic accountant living in a quiet village in Buckinghamshire. Della Jont is a hard-nosed businesswoman who presses Max into working for her, investigating alleged financial irregularities at an orphanage in East Africa. Max soon finds that some disturbing things are going on at the orphanage, and becomes involved in a set of intriguing events involving orphans, government agencies, witch-doctors, an old university chum and a multinational pharmaceutical company.
Beginning on 10 January 2016, I shall publish The Orphans here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
The Orphans. Chapter Fifteen, scene three: What Hannice did next.
Back at Nocturne, Hannice and I decided that we could pull our agenda forward by half a day, so I started to go through my ideas for KIT.
“In essence, Hannice,” I said, “if you want me to run this company, I need to have full control, and run it according to my beliefs.”
“Beliefs?” he asked, “What belief is there other than to make money?”
“Simply this,” I began, ”I don’t want to run a business that just invests in the most profitable arena, with no consideration of the needs of its host country. If you want it run like that, you will need to find someone else. Here’s what I propose.”
I pulled up a spreadsheet on my laptop, with a pie chart overlaid.
“My concerns in this country are HIV, especially inherited HIV, and the plight of people with albinism. KIT is already addressing the former by investing in JPT, and I am delighted at that. For my discretionary investment, I propose that KIT invest in start-ups that have a stated goal that fits with my concerns. I gather there is one such enterprise producing sunscreen that actually helps people with albinism, in a way that commercial, cosmetic sunscreens don’t. I want to support young enterprises like that, providing them with start-up capital and supporting them in other ways, too.”
“Continue,” Hannice said.
“My proposal is to set up a division of KIT that will offer administration and accountancy services to these young enterprises during their formative periods. This division would also give these services to KIT, KTA and JPT, the income from the internal provision effectively funding the external provision, allowing these services to be provided to start-ups at cost.”
“Sounds like you’ve thought this through, Max.”
“I have Hannice; but there’s more,” I said, “I have analysed Lindy’s workload and his capabilities. I want to offer him the managership of this division. I think he is up to it, and I think he’s ready for it.”
“Have you spoken to him about it?”
“Not yet, I haven’t. I wanted to clear it with you first.”
“Consider it cleared. If you think he can handle it, that’s fine with me. But are you sure you can run KIT and KTA, as well as your own business?”
“I shall have to let my own business go dormant. To be frank, though, I really don’t see that these two give me a full-time job between them.”
Hannice beamed. “Delighted to hear you say that, old thing.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Tell you tomorrow. Carry on with your pitch.”
“That’s about it, Hannice. I’m not sure whether the services division should be established as a separate company, but that’s the only uncertainty I have. What do you think? You know Tanzania better than I do.”
“Do that. Set up a company, wholly owned by KIT, which will automatically make you CEO. It will be Tanzanian owned and, if you think the boy’s up to it, young Lindy can run the show, under your leadership. Thought of a name for it?”
“I have. As a boost for Lindy, as much as anything else, I rather like the sound of ‘Holy Island Services’.”
“Oh, brava! Splendid suggestion. Okay, Max. Everything agreed in principle. Let’s get down to numbers, shall we?”
I presented my cash flow and balance sheet forecasts and went into the business plan in greater depth. We spent the rest of the afternoon throwing numbers all over the place. Financially, with the backing of Knight Global Trading, this was most certainly going to work. Once we had agreed the viability of my proposals, on paper at least, Hannice and I spoke with Dick Branson, and had him start the process of creating Holy Island Services, Limited. Hannice called Lindy, and asked him to call around to the house on his way to work the following morning.
We stopped at that point, happy that we achieved everything we had set out to do that day, and more besides. In fact, we had achieved in one afternoon everything I had hoped to cover in two full days. The next day would be taken up with Hannice explaining his plans to me. I had no idea what they would be, but I did sleep well that night; better than I had since first arriving in Tanzania all those weeks earlier.