Three years ago, two brothers, Richard and Jerry, decided to quit their jobs in very reputable institutions and combine their synergies to form an IT company. Having no money to rent a shop, they started from their home garage. Today, the ‘garage’ company is making strides in the industry and is on its way to become a giant. Find out the journey so far as they share their story with the B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Richard Yaw Bansah is the CEO of Apps and Mobile Solutions Ltd. He has a first degree in French and English from the University of Ghana. His brother, whom he started the business with, is Jerry Ababio Bansah who has a first degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from the same university.
Jerry has worked with IT giants like Airtel and IBM; and Richard has also worked with institutions like the Australian Trade Commission and the Whitaker Group. Both brothers decided to resign from their work and jointly form a company in February 2015.
What moved them?
For Jerry, his work as a computer programmer in another company was too time-demanding; he had no time for himself, and so he resigned. And for Richard, he had just resigned from his former employment for personal reasons. So, both brothers had something in common.
Around the same time too, Airtel approached Jerry, even after his resignation, to develop a solution for Airtel money payment platform that will enhance its services. After developing the platform which was successful, the two brothers decided to capitalise on that and develop similar programmes for other companies that needed such services.
But having no money to rent an office space, as the Airtel project did not come with any monetary gain, they settled in their garage at home to start a business that will soon become a local champion. Sooner, they begun to attract attention.
But whoever was in Ghana in 2015 would have fond or terrible memories of the sporadic power supply that characterised the country. This pushed the young men to spend the little revenue they got from the business on acquiring a power invertor.
The state of the business now
Apart from the two founders of the company, it now has 14 permanent employees and two national service persons. The company now has been able to rent and furnish an office and no longer works from home. As at 2017, it had assets valued at over GH₵600,000 and turnover in excess of a million Ghana cedis.
Apart from developing payment solutions for companies, it also develops software tailored to needs of companies. Through this service, it has developed payment platforms that enable the customers of some banks to send money from their accounts to their mobile money wallets and vice versa. In fact, put simply, Apps and Mobile provides all kinds of IT solutions to address needs of companies.
The vison for Apps and Mobile is very big. It wants to be one of the leading names of payment aggregator in Africa in the next five years.
So, currently, it has initiated the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, which is a certification that a company acquires when it meets about 300 standards for processing data and card holder information and managing it in a secured way so that people’s data are not compromised.
This, Richard believes, will provide them a competitive advantage over other IT solutions companies in Ghana and Africa.
Apps and Mobile has not been immune to the age-old challenge of businesses face in accessing credit. Richard explains that beyond the difficulty in accessing credit, how quickly the borrower is expected to repay is a major cause for concern.
The high cost of electricity, he said, is another major challenge the company has had to deal with.
The cost of internet is also another major issue confronting the company. As an IT firm, it relies heavily on the internet. But it is increasingly becoming expensive to use the service. And what is more, most internet service providers in the country do not pay much attention to quality of service, further frustrating its operations.
Again, a sad challenge is the attitude of Ghanaians toward indigenous enterprises. According to Richard, people are willing to pay as much as US$1.5 million dollars for a software provided by a foreign company but are unwilling to pay US$200,000 for the same software if it came from a local company, thinking, indigenous companies cannot produce anything good enough.
How education has contributed
The education both brothers received has helped them immensely in their business. Jerry’s background in IT has been the backbone of the business. All the programmes and softwares are developed by him. And Richard’s background in marketing has also helped in the effective and efficient management of the business.
How government can support
For Richard, government must put more emphasis on digitising the country, as that will facilitate growth and development. He feels every sector of the economy must be digitised in order to achieve financial inclusion, and encourage the use of technology to grow the country.
Advise to the youth
Richard advises that young people should not dread the habit of trying and failing. He believes it is only after one has tried and failed, that one can know how to do it better and succeed the second time.
“The jobs are not coming; so, it is best to start something on your own, no matter how small it is. Use the internet to learn skills you don’t have and go out there and challenge the world.”