A No-nonsense Family business

Cornelder further expands activities in the Beira port area in Mozambique


Cornelder Holding provides logistics and maritime services in the ports of Rotterdam and Beira, Mozambique. With financing from Invest International, storage capacity and the bulk terminal in Beira and Machipanda, on the border with Zimbabwe, will be further expanded. Good for local jobs and a more sustainable infrastructure. Ellen van Dam, CEO of Cornelder Holding, explains why and talks in passing about doing business in ‘booming Africa’.

Cornelder in Mozambique

For five years Ellen van Dam has been CEO of Cornelder Holding, a family business with a rich maritime history. “The business of logistics was instilled in us at an early age, I am from the fifth generation,” says Ellen. To add: “My father is a pioneer, when I look at how long we have been doing business across borders, from China to Africa.”

“We started in Mozambique just after the civil war, about 25 years ago. With our subsidiary, Cornelder de Moçambique, we have been guiding the further development and expansion of the port of Beira in the coastal region since 1988. It is a port that we have rebuilt together with the government, local partners and the population – there was nothing left of it – into an excellently functioning terminal with an eye for safety, health and environmental standards.”

“Through this Beira Corridor, the Southeast African hinterland, from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana to the Democratic Republic of Congo, can be reached more efficiently by road and rail than through other ports along the coastline of South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania. The Beira Corridor therefore has a very important function. Southeast Africa is now one of Cornelder’s strategic spearheads.”

Investing in the port of Beira

Cornelder de Moçambique has been active in the port of Beira for over twenty years. The construction of storage facilities, a bulk terminal and open space storage are the continuation of these activities.

The new storage facilities and bulk terminal were realized with financing from Invest International. “Cornelder himself has invested a substantial part, whereby the financing of Invest International provides more clout. Think not only of the development of buildings, but also of the further development of the infrastructure, such as access roads and fences. In the wake of these expansions and activities, other transport connections are deployed. An example of this is the 317 kilometer long railway line between Beira and Machipanda. This means fewer wheels to the hinterland, a greener environment and more cost-efficient and faster transport. That’s what we’re going for!”

Ellen van Dam CEO Cornelder

For five years Ellen van Dam has been CEO of Cornelder Holding, a family business with a rich maritime history.

“The goal: fewer wheels to the hinterland, a greener environment and more cost-efficient and faster transport.”

Ellen van Dam
CEO Cornelder Holding

Local jobs and knowledge transfer

More than 770 people work at Cornelder de Moçambique, the Dutch company is the largest employer in the area. The jobs of the new bulk terminal will also be added. Ellen: “At the new bulk terminal we work with a minimum number of expats, with the training of local staff being an important part. The terminal is now up and running and is not yet operating at half capacity, but it already provides more than 30 jobs.”

Making an impact with a focus on:

• Creating local jobs (SDG 8).
• Knowledge transfer.
• Increasing sustainability with a favorable effect on climate and the environment (SDG 13).
• A logistics chain to the hinterland that functions well from head to tail.
• Making as much use as possible of more cost-efficient train connections, which results in lower CO2 emissions and less nuisance from diesel trucks on the E16 Highway.
• Use of products on the terminal that suppress dust, which is better for health and the climate.
• Reduction of water consumption during machine cleaning.
Read more about our vision on impact

Doing business in Africa

Invest International has used the Dutch Good Growth Fund for financing. Traditional banks are skeptical about such financing, since doing business in Africa is not without risk. Ellen: “Entrepreneurship always involves risks” and “Mozambique is a country with many challenges and opportunities.”

“However, our many years of experience and contacts in the country form a solid basis, which helps us to see and seize opportunities more quickly to initiate new developments. Africa is booming in that respect with many opportunities. The good relationship of the Dutch government with that of Mozambique, in combination with the government programs for water and infrastructure, are a welcome added value. And, the recent BHOS memorandum focuses on projects in which Aid and Trade reinforce each other. Our activities and this financing fit in very well with that.”

View of bulk terminal Cornelder Mozambique

The port of Beira has been rebuilt into an excellently functioning terminal by Cornelder together with the Mozambican government, local partners and the population.

Developing Beira together

Cornelder expects the storage facilities and bulk terminal to be up and running at full capacity in both Beira and Machipanda by mid-2023. This coincides well with another Invest International project: the sustainable coastal protection of the port city of Beira against flooding and erosion in relation to climate change.

The expansion of Cornelder’s activities will help the country improve its infrastructure and supply chain, enabling the Beira region to strengthen its position after all the difficulties it has experienced due to Cyclone Idai.