If there were a family of entrepreneurs characterized by its passion, professionalism, commitment, creativity, international influence, philanthropy, thirst for optimism and the search for excellence in the business world and with governments, Albert Karaziwan would definitely be a part of it. Born on August 9, 1958, he built his reputation by founding several successful companies. He is currently the CEO of Semlex, a company specializing in biometric identification systems. Here is a focus on this charismatic businessman who places the human dimension, solidarity and respecting the environment at the heart of his concerns and within his business strategies.
Creation of Semlex, the Pioneer of Biometrics in Africa
In 1992, Albert Karaziwan founded Semlex, a company that provides biometric identification systems, with an ambitious purpose: to help the American authorities fight identity fraud. The company’s name means “meaning of the law” in Latin, reflecting this visionary man’s ambition. He wanted to leverage his expertise and keen interest in new technologies to serve his customers, primarily governments, and by extension, their citizens. By helping the authorities better identify people and to guarantee the authenticity of official documents such as passports and visas, Mr. Karaziwan is fighting against crime. In the beginning, biometrics was still in its infancy; this technology existed but wasn’t fully integrated into identification documents.
The work provided by Albert Karaziwan’s company is rapidly bearing fruit. Very quickly, many governments from all over the world are seeking Semlex’s services to help make their borders more secure and to prevent falsification of official documents. And he certainly has his sights set on Africa. In 2001, Semlex introduced the very first biometric passport in Africa, in the nation of Chad. The introduction of this reliable, inimitable document was so successful, it helped the company quickly secure new contracts in Africa, Europe, Asia and in Latin America.
Located a very beautiful art deco building in the heart of Brussels, Semlex provides its services to more than 40 countries today. Albert Karaziwan’s company manufactures passports, visas and biometric cards, including ID cards, residence cards, government official ID cards, military ID cards, veteran’s ID cards, vehicle registration cards, driver’s licenses, postal and excise stamps, civil acts, electronic gates to control border traffic and mobile stations used to facilitate biometric data collection and recording.
The Biometric Network System (or BNS) is the flagship of Semlex’s solutions. This network can house many applications and enables users to manage very large databases to control the identity of many millions of people. The solution has the ability to deliver documents, to count a population and to cross-reference data. From providing border control to issuing voter cards and creating a database to register all the vehicles within a region, the BNS provides a range of possibilities to its users. This flexible, transversal tool is customizable and appropriate for many fields, and has a proven track record in many countries for many years. Fingerprinting is the most widespread measure of biometric security, but Semlex provides other means of identification like facial recognition, hand geometry and iris scanning.
An Influential Man Appreciated Around the World
As CEO of Semlex, Albert Karaziwan maintains privileged relationships with the authorities in the countries with which he works, in particular with the Ministries of the Interior (police forces and immigration services) and Defense. Every year he attends Interpol’s general assembly, exchanges ideas with the chiefs of police and shares his points of view with them. He is always on the lookout for new challenges to tackle in terms of biometric security. He thereby becomes acquainted with any new methods employed by fraudsters to falsify documents in order to outsmart security checks. He also takes advantage of these meetings to acquire new knowledge about the latest technological advances. This information is of great use when designing fully reliable solutions and take advantage of new technologies to enhance people’s security.
Because of the importance of the challenges of the solutions provided by Semlex, Albert Karaziwan has had the opportunity to make many official visits abroad over the last few years. He has met his customers, essentially governments, and forged relationships with them that extend well beyond the professional dimension. His company Semlex has provided ID cards to the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), ID cards and military ID cards to the United Nations (UNO), ID cards to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as ID cards and military ID cards to the European Union for Guinea-Bissau.
Albert Karaziwan’s influence is particularly significant in the Comoros, one of the African states that has solicited Semlex’s services to manufacture biometric passports, visas, national ID cards and residence cards for foreigners. Located between Madagascar and the African continent, this country comprised of four islands.
The Values of a Passionate Man
To succeed, you must believe in your own success. And to acquire such a conviction, you have to be optimistic. Albert Karaziwan espouses and shares this idea, which is why he is a member of the Board of Directors for “Optimists Without Borders”. This Belgian association advocates unifying collaboration to the detriment of competition, which is divisive. “Together we will initiate a cultural revolution of optimistic realism, one that chooses cooperation inspired by the belief in abundance rather than competition, which is based on the fear of scarcity,” said Luc Simonet, the association’s President. For Albert Karaziwan, self-confidence and positive thought are the pillars of success and accomplishment. These pillars have led him to acquire this entrepreneurial spirit and to successfully create several companies known all over the world.
It is difficult to mention Albert Karaziwan without underlining his passion for new technologies. For this businessman, digital tools must be used wisely in order to enhance people’s security and quality of life. Semlex has recognized expertise that is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001: 2015 certified. The company’s biometric identification systems meet the standards of many international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Semlex’s quality charter focuses on quality and sustainable development. In a memo published in March 2017, Albert Karaziwan recommitted himself to his employees to improve Semlex’s integrated quality/environmental management system (SMI), to comply with applicable environmental standards and to optimize its buildings’ energy performance.
This resulted in the installation of photovoltaic panels that can be observed on the roofs of Semlex offices in Drogenbos, thus supplying the building with solar energy. And to stay in control of the quality of his products and biometric solutions, Albert Karaziwan has equipped Semlex with his own printing company. In this way, the Belgian firm controls the entire production chain of the identity documents it offers, and the printing press also reduces its paper waste and its environmental impact. This strategic acquisition greatly contributed to increasing the group’s reputation.
A committed man and philanthropist
Albert Karaziwan is the founder and shareholder of several companies. The success of these has allowed him to support projects that are close to his heart:
The Hougoumont Farm
The last witness to the Battle of June 18, 1815, this historic farmhouse hosts an unprecedented multimedia installation that tells the story of « battle in battle ».
The Hougoumont Farm was the scene of deadly fighting. Advanced position that protected the right wing of the allies, it is here that the brother of Napoleon triggered the action. What was originally to be a diversionary maneuver became the most violent point of the Battle of Waterloo. Throughout the day, the French assaults were terrible and vain.
Passionate about history, Albert Karaziwan wanted to contribute to the restoration project of this historic farm through Semlex, which has joined the donors of the Hougoumont Foundation. The place is open to visits all year round, and is part of the Waterloo Memorial.
Water treatment in the Comoros
Anxious to put his expertise and new technologies to the benefit of the people, he has supported several solidarity projects in developing countries. In April 2014, he attended the inauguration of a water pumping and treatment plant offered by Semlex in Mohéli, Comoros. This facility has significantly improved the quality of life of the island’s inhabitants by providing them with access to drinking water. Several personalities attended this event: Ms. Hadidja Aboubacar (First Lady of the Comoros), Ms. Sitty Kassim (Minister of Employment) and the Governor of Mohéli. Albert Karaziwan also supported several other solidarity projects in the Comoros, including the setting up of another drinking water station in the Fomboni hospital.