The Valencian multinational DEVSTAT is collaborating in Libya to help control the one and a half million refugees that has entered the country fleeing war-torn Syria.
With no census carried out in the country since 1934, DEVSTAT will be in Libya for a year and a half helping the government to refound the country’s statistics department.
They say that no man is a prophet in his own country, and the fact is that DEVSTAT is a Valencian company in demand all over the world, with projects on most continents, although much less is going on for them in Valencia, their home.
Their list of clients and collaborators is impressive, and they are one of only about 20 organisations in the world that is capable of the kind of number crunching that results in their winning tenders worldwide.
Valencia International spoke to José Vila, the company’s Scientific director, a mathematician and economist, who has 20 years experience working with governmental and private institutions, including all the different phases of statistical production, dissemination and management. He has worked in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, China, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Thailand, USA and Venezuela, and even Spain, despite being Spanish.
He has been a consultant for a number of public organizations (Andean Community Secretariat, European Commission, Eurostat, Romanian Minsitry for SMEs, United Nations agencies, World Bank, etc.) and private companies (Alsa, Bayer group, Burger King, France Telecom, GlaxoSmithKline, Inlingua, MTN Nigeria, different countries, etc.). We also spoke to Santiago Abril, the General Director of Devstat, who joined Adecco Group, the first world company in Human Resources, in 1994 and stayed until 2002 as Regional Manager. He has been also member of Randstad Group, a Dutch company in Staffing and Human Resources Services, as District Manager of East Spain, and was a Store Manager at Leroy Merlin Spain, the leading French DIY retailer.
The founders of Devstat are José Vila and José Luis Cervera, who in 2007 started to bring together their experiences in statistical analysis and application and their experiences working with organizations such as the World Bank and the European Union among other international institutions, applying a model of a company that would have two kinds of activities; offering a limited product as a sub-contractee, providing data and analysis of that data for clients involved in international projects, or providing a total service, leading projects from inception to fruition.
So why is this company, a reference in its field in international scenarios, not well known in Valencia?
Santiago sums it up in an astute analysis, when he says that statistics is just “not sexy!”
Statistical analysis and interpretation is definitely a behind the scenes activity that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
As they say, they can provide clients with specific quantitative information or information analyses, in the short or long term.
They can help clients to implement sustainable Business Intelligence methodologies that can be used and maintained independently by their clients.
They can integrate specific human or technical resources within their client’s structure.
The company’s activities have generated incomes of over 1,300,000 euros in 2015 and a projected 4 million euros for 2018. So much success have they had competing for tenders in countries all around the world, that José estimates that he now spends about a third of his time travelling, grateful for the fact that the Valencia-Istanbul connection of Turkish airlines enables him to globe trot without too much damage to the budget.
As we spoke he was planning his latest trip, to Sudan, where Devstat is collaborating with another international company that is assisting the Sudanese Ministry of Health on a survey to understand local health needs.
With long term projects ranging from health to fisheries; from public administration to property registries, Devstat at any one time has about 25 projects on the burner at various stages of completion.
Most of their work is with developing countries, such as Cuba, where they are collaborating on the transition from a wholly state-run economy to a mixed model.
They are also involved with BRIC countries such as the Russian Federation, where they obtained a contract to diagnose and improve the antiquated Russian statistics office, Rosstat, a project financed by the World Bank.
Another important move has been into the Middle East area, with growing links in Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia, where their activity has multiplied fourfold in the last two years.
Logically the company has an international staff with eleven Russian, Rumanian and Italian employees complementing the Valencian leadership, led by José Luis Cervera, a Mathematician and Chartered State Statistician, who has worked in sub-Saharan Africa (Cape Verde), Latin America (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay), Asia (Kazakhstan, Korea, Thailand) and Central and Eastern Europe (Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania), as a consultant for a number of international organizations including the European Commission, UNCTAD, ITU, PARIS 21, and the Inter-American Development Bank.
They are also keen sharers of knowledge, and for this reason organized a conference on Big Data in Rome in 2014 in collaboration with Eurostat, the European Union data organization, and they are also involved in R&D&I, in particular on a European Union project called Horizon 2020, a project with €80 billion of funding available over 7 years seeking breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by transforming ideas into internationally competitive market-place products and services.
Among Devstat past and present international projects are:
Surveys on access to and use of ICT in Oman and training of staff of the Bureau of Statistics and Census of Libya.
Evaluation of the impact of microcredit programs in Latin-American countries (2012), carried out by BBVA Microfinance Foundation in Chile, Colombia, Panama and Peru.
Analysis and report of the 2011 survey on ICT usage in the Omani business sector (2012). Implementing external data sources in the air transport statistical production system (2011).
A follow-up international conference on national accounts tools in the context of cooperation (2011-2014) in Vanuato, Belize and Addis Ababa.
Analysis of the agro-food and seed markets in China (2010-2012).