Getting down to Business!
Before moving to Ghana we were told, “Make a list of 100 ideas you have for doing business in Ghana and get to work.” However, the next line was, “all these ideas won’t pan out, so don’t get too excited.” There are many opportunities available for you to become your own boss if you choose to repatriate to Ghana or Africa in general. Africa has some of the fastest growing economies, therefore, starting a business on the continent is a great long term investment. No matter the sector you may want to venture into, the likelihood is that there is no company/person performing the service or selling the products you want to provide or there is room for competition/improvement. Ghana is no exception to the rule.
During our stint in Accra and other regions, we observed several sectors that need investment. The only thing necessary is the capital to fund the idea, proper research, and a well thought out plan of execution. Because we advocate for group economics, we would say get a team of investors and work together to get the plan executed. If nothing else, it will make the task of starting and operating a business in Ghana more cost effective for all involved.
Here are a few sectors (list is not exhaustive) that we have heard local Ghanaians discuss as viable business opportunities or we have seen with our own eyes:
· 1. Agriculture: I think it goes without saying, you can come, purchase land, and grow food. Besides produce, the country imports almost everything else. Ghana lacks poultry and cattle farms. Producing meat that is raised locally can be sold to the restaurants and private consumers as well exported. Currently, Ghana imports a substantial amount of meat from Brazil or the UAE. Another idea, but may require more capital, is figuring out a method for growing berries within the country. Ghana’s climate is tropical, thus lacks the frost needed to grow and harvest berries. No matter what you decide to grow, a good farm hand and a business mentality can produce a lot of income whether you export the food or sell it within the country.
2. Construction/Infrastructure: Ghana, especially Accra and the surrounding regions are growing at a rapid pace. The unofficial number of people calling Ghana home is approximately 26 million. The number continues to grow as foreigners are quickly moving to the country. With an increased population, comes the need to build and build a lot. No matter where you look new single family homes, apartment highrises, business developments are popping up. Thus, if you have any skills in operating a construction company, have new building methods, or can build roads/trainways, then you should be looking at Ghana. This sector will only increase over the next few years as Accra continues to become more and more overpopulated and people expand into the neighboring areas.
3. Real Estate /Community Development: With a growing population comes a need for housing and land. However, land deals are very tricky and can lead to court time for some people If one is not careful. Setting up a business to ease the fear associated with purchasing property would generate a lot of clients and referrals. Simply putting land, apartments, houses, etc. on a verifiable website would be helpful to potential foreign clients. However, persons venturing into the real estate sector would be wise to make contacts with chiefs and do thorough research on properties prior to listing them. Additionally, doing away with all the fees that you currently acquire when using an agent to see land and property, would help your cause as well.
4. Waste Management/Recycling: Look around, look around. What you will see is plenty of trash lining the streets and drainage ways of such a beautifully green country. Well unless of course you are in East Legon, Airport Residential, or Osu. Currently, there is a huge, and I mean huge, waste problem in the country. Zoomlion is the waste management specialist in the Ghana. However, the company only handles waste management for private parties that can afford to pay for the services. The rest of the population toss trash on the ground due to no trashcans in most parts of the country and/or burn the trash because there is no one to come and get it. Additionally, a recycling company would be welcomed in a country which consumes so much water. The population consumes almost all of its water via plastics bags and or bottles. Just working with the government alone to start a “Make Ghana Beautiful” program would give you a nice business and help the country immensely. Anyone possessing the skill set to tackle the issue should be running to the country because making Ghana green again will put a lot of green in your pockets.
· 5. Technology Companies: Although Ghana is living in a technological world, it does not use technology to make life easier for its citizens. Helping to provide more access to cashless transactions can be lucrative. Not many businesses currently have the means to accept debit or credit cards or their machines don’t work when you attempt the transaction because it’s essentially dial-up service. Another business could be in the communications arena. Ghana operates on cellphones services yet, they use Internet applications for international calling and it becomes extremely difficult to use these services when there is spotty Internet and it’s expensive (No unlimited Internet plans). There is room for improvement on Internet and cell signal services.
6. Recreational Activities: From our observation is seems that most people here are bored especially young people. They are looking for activities to engage in. Prior to coming to Ghana, I often wondered why all the people I knew here, Ghanaians or non-Ghanaian, were always at home. The activities that exist are too expensive for locals and cater to expats. In addition, most activities are in select areas of Accra. Developing spaces focused on entertainment would be ideal for this growing population of young people looking to hang out and mingle.
· 7. Retail Spaces: Open a mall or a farmer’s market and charge for spaces. Accra mall is always buzzing with people even beyond closing hours. Maybe people are seeking to avoid the heat, but there are people spending money on food and shopping. If you build a mall in a developing area, the retailers will flock to sublet your spaces, especially places like ShopRite, Woodin, or food eateries. There are more malls being built, but of course there is still time to get you a piece of the pie.
8. Grocery Stores: A growing population, rapid development, coupled with unsanitary markets creates the need for grocery markets, that are affordable of course. Grocery stores are minimally scattered throughout the city. Some areas lack a grocery store or even a major outdoor market, so something to fill the need is necessary.
9. Hospitality Training: One of the observations you can see immediately upon entering a business here is that either the employees seem irritated by your presence, don’t listen to what you are asking of them, lack answers to the questions you ask, or they are flat out sleep on the job. Customer service training or employee training programs is a sector people should really consider. As we know, customer service can determine whether a business succeeds or fails. I mean how many times can the waiter/waitress get my order wrong and try to charge me for it before I say, “Forget it! I’m not coming back here.”
10. Tourism: After about a week or two in Ghana, you would have done all the tourist attractions available in the country. The attractions that the country does have are not well maintained and could be updated to draw more people in. Ghana is a high demand tourist destination in Africa, there may be an opportunity to capitalize on the country’s underdeveloped tourism sector. Working directly with the government to receive funding to build new attractions and properly manage the current ones is worth considering.
Before you come running to Ghana with money in hand to set up a business, please take a second to find out how the system works to set up your business. Being on the ground would aid in this process so much more than online attempts. Or make connections with trustworthy people who can help guide you through the process or handle the paperwork on your behalf. Just know that proper research on the methods for conducting business in Ghana or any other African country is key. Until next time...