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Business Spotlight: Mauve Group

30 Mar, 2023

Ann Ellis is founder and CEO of Mauve Group. Ann, originally from Denbigh, is currently based in Dubai. Mauve Group helps fast-growing companies of any size, and from any industry, to scale their workforces and operations globally. The company recently launched Mauve Cymru to support ambitious Welsh businesses to go global.

Mauve joined the GlobalWelsh for Business membership programme in 2021. We caught up with Ann to find out more about her business and how she's connecting with her homeland…

"We are a global business and I am passionate about my Welsh roots; I believe us Welsh should all be supporting each other. Whether we’re home or away, it shouldn’t be a barrier and I love how GlobalWelsh brings these communities together."

Let’s start at the beginning, tell us how Mauve Group started?

My husband John was a telecoms engineer in the early days of the telecoms boom - in fact, he was one of the first employees of Orange. He and his colleagues were headhunted to set up projects around the world. John was asked to go out to Italy, which was great news for me because I studied Italian at university, and I always wanted to live in Italy so we couldn’t wait to go! I gave up my teaching job, and off we went, two small children in tow.

We soon found that all the engineering guys that John knew with jobs in different countries were having problems with compliance and getting hold of work visas. So we thought, ‘why don't we set up a company that could help these people?’ - and that's what we did. At that point I was a stay-at-home mum so, as if I wasn’t busy enough already, I put my hands up to run the company. With no business experience, John set me up in a broom cupboard and that was my first office - a broom cupboard with a computer and a bookshelf!

There was a big project starting in Hungary so my first job was to find out how these telecoms engineers could work compliantly in Hungary. I got in touch with Ernst and Young to ask them that question and they told me I needed to set up an entity in Hungary. So I did! Once you’ve got the company set up, you can sponsor the work permits, put people on a local payroll and pay them in local currency. I loved it as I was able to use my teaching skills to brief them on how to be compliant. 

We followed the likes of Nokia and Ericsson as they set up networks in different parts of the world, and wherever they set up, we would then set up a company to employ the engineers. We replicated that same model all over the world.

We rode the telecoms boom up until around 2010 when mobile and smartphones really took off. We realised our services could be used by any business of any size and in any industry - so, we decided to go after the biggest market, the US. We attended a huge expo in Atlanta for HR managers, as we identified these as the type of decision-makers that needed our services. That was the start of the model we now know today as “Employer of Record” – one of our core services.

Over the last 13 years we’ve built up a massive client base in the US. It was timely because it was in that time after the financial crisis when American companies were looking outwards. It took longer for the UK to take off but now we have as many clients in the UK, and we’re looking beyond to grow in markets such as Latin America and Asia.

"We’re focusing on Wales at the moment – I see Wales as having huge opportunities on the global stage, and I want to help Welsh businesses to access those opportunities."

What services do Mauve offer companies and who are your clients?

Mauve provides global HR, payroll and immigration services - basically anything connected with operating overseas. We can support companies by setting them up quickly in their country of choice, in the smoothest possible way with the least amount of risk.

Our clients are companies of all sizes and industries, from small startups to large multinationals. We work a lot with universities, and in the US we're actually working with all of the Ivy League universities because they have researchers and lecturers working for them internationally. We also do a considerable amount of work with charities and NGOs; we are very excited to be working with Comic Relief, helping them deploy people on projects all over Africa in the easiest possible way.

We’re focusing on Wales at the moment – I see Wales as having huge opportunities on the global stage, and I want to help Welsh businesses to access those opportunities.

What challenges are you helping your clients overcome?

Setting up a company, especially overseas, can be a huge hassle and costly - not to mention risky. It's not just the setup, but it's the running of that company that can be a challenge. When you’re a small or rapidly growing business looking to grow teams, win new customers or deploy freelancers abroad quickly, you just don’t have the knowledge, skills or resources to dedicate to this and it can take months, years even to build these up. This is where Mauve comes in.

As a group we have entities set up in 70 countries, and growing. We have on the ground experts, in-market skills and payroll mechanisms ready to help companies set up quickly and cost-effectively without the logistical worries and overheads. Having this infrastructure in-place already means our services are scalable and fully compliant for our clients.

It’s not a one-size fits all approach because each country is so different, so we also advise companies on the best strategies for growing or deploying their workforces. For example, we know which visas and permits would work best depending on what the company is looking to achieve and in what timeframe.

Not many people know services like ours exist so we want to make Welsh businesses aware that we are here to help them scale internationally and get them productive in global markets fast.

"As a group we have entities set up in 70 countries, and growing. We have on the ground experts, in-market skills and payroll mechanisms ready to help companies set up quickly and cost-effectively without the logistical worries and overheads."

Tell us about the launch of Mauve Cymru?

Well of course, being Welsh, I’ve always had a keen eye on what’s going on back home and over the years, I've seen how Welsh businesses are starting to really grow and demonstrate lots of ambition. There are so many amazing world-class products being produced in Wales now. I started to think that these companies will considering the possibility of expanding globally, and we can help them.

I left Wales over 30 years ago - I've been all around the world and I’ve always told people about Wales. I'm very proud of being Welsh and the world needs to know about our great country and all our fantastic Welsh companies too. I'm really excited about how Mauve Cymru can help Welsh businesses expand rapidly. Having lived all over the world, I really feel it’s a good time for Wales to be having more pride in what we are capable of and thinking more globally.

"I left Wales over 30 years ago - I've been all around the world and I’ve always told people about Wales. I'm very proud of being Welsh and the world needs to know about our great country and all our fantastic Welsh companies too."

What are the biggest markets for you as a business?

The USA and UK are both huge markets for us. Following Brexit, we are also helping a lot of UK companies who’ve set up operations in the EU, especially Spain and Portugal due to the tax benefits there - and the weather of course! 

During the pandemic we had a lot of projects with US universities whose researchers were stuck in China and other countries, and unable to get home - we employed them locally so they could stay in China compliantly. 

Looking ahead, the biggest opportunities for us will be in Latin America and Asia - we are currently growing teams in both those markets to service clients there.

Finally, why is it important for your to engage with the GlobalWelsh network?

We are a global business and I am passionate about my Welsh roots; I believe us Welsh should all be supporting each other. Whether we’re home or away, it shouldn’t be a barrier and I love how GlobalWelsh brings these communities together. 

Having recently launched in Wales I am looking to connect with the most globally ambitious Welsh companies, so it makes sense to be involved in GlobalWelsh who are focused on supporting these types of businesses.

I am very excited to be part of the GlobalWelsh community - as a business we have already gained so much value and support through our membership, and we’ve just renewed for a second year.  On a personal level, being involved with GlobalWelsh has given me the opportunity to reconnect with my homeland in a positive and productive way, even though I live in Dubai.

Connect with Ann and her team via Connect >>

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