Henley W&RSETA Students Visit Ghana

The WRSETA ILDP Class of 2016 visited the Cape Coast Castle, a 17th century castle that was one of the many forts along the Ghanian coast used to trade slaves and then send them over the Atlantic ocean through the gate of no return (pictured here). Today the fort is nestled in a vibrant and colourful fishing community.

Henley Business School’s W&RSETA students have visited Ghana as part of their immersion programme. The visit included a presentation by the African Center for Economic Transformation on the topic of Ghana’s socio-economic development, and visits to Stanbic, Game, Makola Market, Meltwater, Coca Cola, MPedigree and dinner with the SA High Commissioner.

Dr Joe Amoako-Tuffour, along with Dr Ed Brown, were guest speakers at the African Centre for Economic Transformation. They spoke about the difference between Ghana’s formal and informal sectors and how these impact routes to market, highlighting the difficulties in starting a business in Ghana and providing insight into Ghana’s economy and transformation.

They spoke about how South Africans should not limit our thinking to the South African market with the opportunities available in the greater African region saying there are still challenges in trying to regionalise and integrate most African countries.

A presentation by Stanbic covered Ghana’s economic and consumer landscape where Randolph Rodrigues, Executive Vice President and Head, Investment Banking at Stabic, provided insight into Ghana’s banking relationship with South Africa.

He spoke about the different economic sectors in Ghana, primarily the banking sector’s role in the country’s economy, highlighting that banking’s first-world solutions for informal markets are not a solution for the African market. He added that opportunities abound in mobile money.

“While Ghana’s GDP is stable and much stronger than SA,” he said, “late payments by government are causing companies to close down. For business, energy is another challenge. New regulations such as the Tax Act, oil subsidies and electricity subsidies will alleviate the burden on government. Africa can be a major player for business in the world, but needs to put its resources to better use,” said Mr Rodrigues.

Dinner with the high commissioner, Selai Khuele, a South African who has lived in Ghana for four years, gave insight into how well SA businesses are doing in Ghana, with many of SA’s big companies already having a footprint in the country. “There is policy formulation in government based on the embassy’s influence and there are immense opportunities for expansion in Ghana,” he said.

Mr Khuele highlighted that South Africans don’t realise how much they have because they don’t travel much to other African countries. “South Africans continue to project the perception that they are not African. The Ghanian people are very warm, self-driven and well educated and invest a lot into education. The country is building internal capacity but skills are low in mining and other industries, however the growth potential is enormous,” he said.

The group then visited the South African retailer’s Game store in Accra Mall where they met Kelvin Brinkhuis, Store Manager, who explained that there is a distinct difference between Game in South Africa and Game in Ghana. He shared some of the techniques used to move products such as pairing different items and selling them as specials. He said that some of Game’s top selling items are gym equipment.

“Customer service in Ghana is of high standard and staff take pride in their jobs with our store having low shrinkage. Retail is not a rigid structure in Ghana, it is constantly moving.” He said it is important to build relationships, collaborate with suppliers and understand your market. “There are chall
A visit to the Makola Market gave an insight into Ghana’s informal retail environment. “The businesses are more structured than you initially perceive. It is organised chaos, everything somehow works well. The traders are passionate and take a personal interest in their customers more than the formal sector. They engage more with customers and connect with them. You can find both local and international products there,” said one delegate.

“There is also loyalty amongst the sellers. If their neighbour is not around, they will sell their products on their behalf. There’s a huge difference between SA’s informal market and Ghana’s. The people there really know the true definition of “ubuntu”. Locals still prefer shopping at the informal sectors, where bargain are to be found,” he said.

The visit to Meltwater covered enterprise development and business incubation. This is a centre that trains and develops future African entrepreneurs. Meltwater, a company that offers software as a service, is currently involved with four countries, Ghana, SA, Kenya and Nigeria. The W&RSETA delegates had an opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and gain an insight into their challenges and successes.

Celine Duros and Emmanuel Quartey of Meltwater spoke about opportunities for young entrepreneurs. Meltwater invests in people with potential who are trained to see challenges as opportunities. They said there is a huge need for creativity and innovation.

“It is important to find solutions to our own problems instead of relying on outsiders. There are opportunities created for Ghanaians to empower themselves within their own communities. We are also encouraging Africans to consume African products,” said Ms Duros.

Coca-Cola covered the topic of multinational brands and distribution in Africa. Anthony Chinebuah, Operations Marketing Manager at Coca Cola said there are opportunities for women in remote areas and young entrepreneurs which can help eliminate poverty in Africa. Coca Cola is developing people to be business minded.

He explained how Coca Cola has had to diversify its products to stay ahead of increasing competition as well as people being more health conscious. “There are opportunities to combine business growth with community empowerment. Coca Cola has an intensive drive to grow market share and attain loyalty.”

“We understand that to increase our footprint we need to be more active in the communities we serve. This is a combination of Ubuntu and corporate social responsibility,” he said.

A conversation with Dr Ruben Atekpe, serial entrepreneur and Executive Chairman of MECOWA, gave an insight into being an entrepreneur in Ghana. He said SA businesses still have a lot to learn about how to deal with doing business in Africa. “More than 50% of retailers in Ghana’s malls are South African. For small businesses to become a formidable economic powerhouse we have to collaborate, network and connect to break the barriers and become global,” he noted.

He said that South Africans are perceived as being arrogant and see themselves as the US of Africa. He believes that the success of this continent is dependent on the collaboration of all the economies.enges with importing goods into Ghana as each item has to be registered, increasing costs. Both the formal and informal sectors are still valid and vital but the formal market is growing significantly. My advice to South African companies is to research a market before entering to ensure you understand all aspects of the local needs,” he said.

Innovation in the retail supply chain was presented by mPedigree, a global leader in the use of mobile and web technologies in securing products against counterfeiting, where Bright Simons, entrepreneur extraordinaire and President of mPedigree, said that Africa can do a lot if the continent collaborates more. “We need innovative solutions to resolve distribution issues. Ghana should be leading the journey in solving African problems. There needs to be regulation controls in the pharmaceutical industry for example, to ensure controls are in place to empower consumers and ensure authentic products are being distributed,” he said.

He highlighted the importance of technology in Africa and the need for the development of innovative software with social benefits, not necessarily for profit purposes only. “This is saving and enriching lives through the products being offered.”

“Distribution systems, involving data collection, are being put in place to ensure Ghana is on par with the rest of other African regions. Technology is being used to assist businesses in running smoothly,” he said.