As the pay gap between CEO and median employee earnings continues to increase, African solar energy company Fenix International is burning the outdated rulebook on traditional employee stock options. It announced the first cash payout to its employees across Africa, with mid-level and low-level workers set to benefit. How successful will the scheme prove to be, and could it be a template for other companies in their pursuit to improve workforce productivity?
How do employees benefit from Fenix Flames?
The solar energy supplier’s ‘Fenix Flames’ programme provides additional benefits as an alternative to traditional ownership options. The scheme was designed to offer a cash payout in the event of an acquisition or public listing. Following global energy company ENGIE’s acquisition of Fenix International, all 350 African employees across all sectors will profit.
Fenix International CEO Lyndsay Handler said: “At Fenix, we believe that employee ownership is powerful. Fenix Flames drive the team to go above and beyond to achieve our long-term goals, to collaborate across traditional department lines, to operate with integrity and to achieve profitability. “We spent over two years working with lawyers, investors and financial advisors to carefully craft the Fenix Flames programme and all of this hard work has paid off today.”
The novel ownership scheme was created to ensure all full-time Fenix employees benefit from the company’s increased performance and value creation, including in the event of an acquisition or IPO transition. Longer-serving employees may receive up to two to five times their gross annual salary.
Employee ownership as a novel concept in Africa
The average Ugandan earns as little as $1.50 per day. A core part of Fenix’s mission is reportedly to create a lasting solution for the African market, as well as to ensure long-term interest in the business.
Fenix says it wants to attract and retain the best talent, and the scheme has already proved to be a strong performance driver for the solar company’s rapid expansion.