Issa Baluch is being honored this
week in Budapest, Hungary. Mr. Baluch is being inducted
into The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) Hall of Fame.
“I am honored, humbled,” Issa
said, “and mighty grateful for this recognition.
“Family and friends are equally joyed
and to me this is a testament to the many teams and individuals that have
worked side by side with me to excel, be it in the logistics world, or
in Corporate Social Responsibility,” Issa concluded.
Twenty Two Years Of Hall Of Fame
TIACA has been naming people into their
Hall of Fame now for 22 years.
But to our mind, 2019 can be remembered
Issa will join an honor roll that includes
Jacques Ancher, Bill Boesch, Ram Menen, Richard Malkin and Robert Arendal.
Bob Arendal, it can be remembered, was the
first person in the modern era to be named to the Hall of Fame in 1997.
The award will be presented at a dinner
in Budapest at 1900 Hours Wednesday November 20th.
Issa who is overwhelmingly busy these days
(keep reading) has asked his daughter Sarah (right) to accept the award
on his behalf.
Sarah is apropos, we think.
She is smart and beautiful and brings a
certain air of lyrical elegance to the fore.
Like Father Like Daughter
“Sarah is a dedicated teacher of music
at her own school for children in Dubai called Kindermusik,” Issa
“Her objectives are quite similar
to mine, in similar angles, except she is charged with developing young
minds starting from utero to 8 years of age – in cognitive &
language development, using the power of music.
“Sarah’s 20 years of active
engagement in teaching music, whether voice, instruments such as piano,
flute, viola, violin and trumpet just to name a few, are revealing.
“The transfer & development of
social skills & bonding features through music can be helpful in renewing
the art of talking and listening abilities that are becoming more demanding
in today’s social and family settings,” Issa notes.
Hall Of Fame Awaits First Woman
Sarah’s presence front and center
at a TIACA event brings to mind that across 22 years, since the aforementioned
first award in 1997, no woman in air cargo has been invited into The Hall
The World of Issa Baluch
We caught up with Issa last weekend and
asked him what was on his mind.
As usual, he was upfront and full of ideas.
“Whether agribusiness, aqua-culture
or developing of commercial zones in Somalia, the new generation needs
to understand the relevance of the logistics sector.
“Farms grow produce, but we move it
to consumer markets.
“The youth of today think clicking
is enough and things move from there onwards.
“My messaging – the niche I
found in my life, is simply to convey to this generation across many frontiers
that D-printing, robotics, artificial intelligence etc., do not at this
time, initiate beaming.
“As long as man is unable to beam
cargo from one location to another – we still have to move goods
and material physically.
“So our sector of logistics will continue
as the “wheels of commerce.”
“Easy to understand,” Issa smiles,
“but difficult to implement.
“These days because of my teaching
and crossing many sectors in my travels to Africa and around the world
I now have many followers – students, kids, interns that also have
From left to right—Professor Wesley Harris, Charles Stark Draper
Professor and Head, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology; The Hon. Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden, President
of the South West State of Somalia and Issa Baluch, Senior Advanced
Leadership Fellow at Harvard University, Chairman, FIATA Logistics
Training Program In Somalia
“My latest project in affiliation
with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is to train Somali
refugees based in Kenya–in preparation for them to head back and
resettle in their country Somalia.
“Designated commercial zones are being
planned and am currently assisting by make frequent trips to that country.”
Issa Out Of Africa
Issa Baluch was born in 1952 in East Africa.
Ethnically of Omani and African mix, Baluch
left East Africa in the 1970s and took up residency in Dubai, where he
launched his career as a tally clerk at the Swedish-owned Gulf Agency
Company in 1973.
He was general manager of the supply chain
department where he helped initiate sea-air multimodal transport between
Asia, Europe, and North America before he established his own business
Swift Group in 1989.
A Vision Ahead of Time
The Issa Baluch vision was to take advantage
of the African market –a place he still considered home –and
his position in Dubai gave Baluch a great advantage positioning his firm
at the midway point between Asia and Africa.
The sea-air multimodal transportation method
was designed so that goods from Asia could be shipped by sea to Dubai,
and then transferred by air to West African countries, saving time and
Business grew very fast in part due to Dubai’s
pro-business government, free seaports, and open skies.
Over time, Mr. Baluch began adding value
through light assembly and packaging.
Swift Sold To Barloworld
By 2008, when Issa sold Swift Group to South
African-owned Barloworld Logistics and retired, Swift Group had expanded
to 24 countries –16 in Africa –and 49 branches.
Mr. Baluch had also among other things served
as the founding President of the first Freight Logistics Association formed
on the Arabian Gulf Peninsula in Dubai, the National Association of Freight
Links Beyond The Golf Course
“In 2011 after having moved to North
Carolina and a relaxed retirement and frankly tiring of playing golf every
day, I was accepted by Harvard University to become a Fellow in their
new program, called Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI).
“The following year, I became a senior
Fellow and Associate of Science, Technology, and Globalization at The
Harvard Kennedy School,” Issa said.
“At present, I am considered as a
visiting Senior Fellow.
“Harvard encourages all ALI Fellows
to initiate a social impact project, and so, as one of the investors in
a 10,000-hectare farm (Africa Atlantic Farms) on the Afram plains alongside
Lave Volta (the world’s largest water reservoir) in Ghana, West
Africa, we studied the prospects of planting a Knowledge Center as a depository
of skills and experiences gained from the commercial farm and the African
Agribusiness Knowledge and Innovation Leadership Initiative (AKILI) was
How To Spell Wisdom?
It is not coincidental in this project for
Africa that “AKILI” is the Swahili word for wisdom.
“Sharing knowledge and wisdom lies at the heart of our mission,”
Issa Baluch said.
Doing The Most Good
“This project,” Issa explains,
“picked up momentum and we formally launched the Africa Agribusiness
Knowledge Centres (AAKC), where I was appointed Chairman.
“The effort, one of a kind was supported
by Harvard Kennedy School’s Science, Technology, and Globalization
Project Department, MIT, Masdar Institute of Abu Dhabi, and most recently,
the D.C.-based Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).”
Master Plan For Progress
“A master plan developed via a charrette,
(a brainstorming technique from the early 1800s) was completed by MIT.
“The complete project design includes
an airport, logistics and cool chain centers, and the AAKC facility, among
“A 27-course curriculum was created
to offer youth, farm workers, and all participants up-to-the-minute technology
to improve farm production.
“My own contribution is logistics
and work experience in Africa, particularly in distribution—the
entire project is driven from a demand angle and food security is a big
ticket item locally, regionally, and internationally.
“The stakeholders of this project
are committed to a vision of scaling this model across the continent of
Call For Help Goes Continental
In 2015 as the pilot program at the Africa
Atlantic farm in Ghana neared completion, word spread of the project to
train small-scale farmers for commercial success. The project excited
representatives from several African countries, who attempted to persuade
Baluch to establish AKILI divisions in their country.
Free Trade Agreement Out of Africa
“The Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement
(TFTA), has brought together member and partner states of the Common Market
for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC),”
“The Southern African Development
Community (SADC), was signed in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, on June 10,
2015, by representatives of most of the 26 countries covered by the deal.
“Today the 26 countries represent
48 percent of the African Union membership, 51 percent of continental
GDP, and a combined population of 632 million.
“If the TFTA countries were one country,
it would be the thirteenth largest economy in the world.”
Hope & Change
Issa Baluch brightens considerably when
“Innovation needs to be identified
and youth must be served.
“For example, FIATA amongst other
efforts, most recently conducted their biggest annual global event, the
FIATA World Congress in Cape Town this year.
“So part of the challenge is to uncover
and empower the intellect out there and work to coordinate talent anywhere
in the world for the good of everyone’s future to get things done.
“It’s all hands on deck for the future now,” Issa Baluch
Finally, it should be mentioned that Issa
serves on the Board of Directors of the International Federation of Freight
Forwarders’ Associations (FIATA), where he was president from 2003
Issa has authored two books on transport
logistics namely, “Transport Logistics: Past, Present and Predictions”,
and “Transport Logistics: The Wheel of Commerce”.
Issa Baluch is truly a great man; a brilliant,
successful, decent human being who not only has made it in the business
and social world but also with his wife Shelley has shepherded nine children
into the next generation.
Every good wish to you, always.