Everybody needs help; everybody needs to help. That was my thought when I came across the work of Invest in Africa (IIA) in November 2017. They are helping businesses that need help.
IIA is a not-for-profit initiative, established in 2012, that works across sectors with leading global and local businesses (including Tullow, EY, Newmont, MODEC, Ecobank Ghana, GCB Bank and Guinness Ghana) to do three things:
- Connect multinational corporations and large businesses to credible local SMEs.
- Improve those local SMEs’ access to skills, contracts and finance to build long-term capacity.
- Improve the investment climate and quality of policy discussions in markets where it operates.
Using the platform of its Business Linkage Program (BLP), IIA has been instrumental in boosting the fortunes of Ghanaian SMEs.
Adding precision to Ad Precision
Like many SMEs in Ghana and other parts of Africa, Ad Precision Limited has had its share of challenges. These challenges are both internal and external. The ability to address the external challenges depends on how the internal challenges are addressed. The company is in the business of supplying engineering tools and IT equipment to its clients. Ad Precision also runs a human resource outsourcing service whereby it manages and provides labor for organizations in Ghana.
Ad Precision faced the hurdle of accessing tenders and managing its operations effectively. The company also had deficiencies in its book keeping practices while grappling with cash flow challenges which resulted from delay in payment from customers.
However, through the intervention of Invest in Africa, Ad Precision has been able to overcome these bedevilling challenges. According to CEO Michael Adaflagbe, his company’s accession to IIA’s Business Linkage Program has resulted in a 20% increase in profit as well as employment of ninety-two (92) persons through their outsourcing and recruitment plan. The company has also moved on to win juicy deals with notable organizations such as Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority, Volta River Authority and Electricity Company of Ghana.
Mr. Adaflagbe is now more confident about his own competence, “I am now a more organized person,” he says. He is pleased that, “Instead of handling every task of the company, I can now delegate some aspects of the business operations and that actually has taken stress off me.”
Again, with the help of mentors assigned by IIA, Ad Precision was able to organize its objectives and strategies into a business plan that was shared with team members. The CEO is now no longer the sole repository of where the company is headed. Subsequently, the company saw improvements in its operations. The plan certainly facilitated the company’s quest to obtain a license from the Petroleum Commission to operate in the upstream realm of the petroleum industry.
Gearing up Gyabils Farms
Gyabils Farms situated in Amansie Central District of the Ashanti Region of Ghana. The farm has in its portfolio herds of goats, pigs and ducks. In addition to this, Gyabils Farms also maintains a fish farm and a teak tree plantation.
Although Gyabils Farms had attained many laurels prior to its engagement of IIA, CEO Ambrose Gyabil found it necessary to sign up for IIA’s Business Linkage Program. To him, the program was an opportunity to add to his pool of knowledge. Mr. Gyabil told me over the phone that the program “equipped [us] to be captains of business.”
Throughout the course of their association, the Farm received business development support which culminated in the creation of a comprehensive business plan. The plan served as the anchor for their application to be considered for government’s One District One Factory (1D1F) policy. Having been shortlisted, Gyabils Farms is likely to receive between USD 100,000 and USD 1,500,000 when the government fully implements the policy. Mr. Gyabil intends to apply these funds towards the establishment of a feed mill and an organic fertilizer plant.
Meanwhile, he and his team relish the enhanced revenue in excess of 40% as a result of the lessons they have gleaned from IIA’s program.
The Business Linkage Program
The Business Linkage Program (BLP) run By Invest in Africa seeks to offer services to help SMEs to transition from being local champions to becoming globally competitive over a three-year period.
Participating business leaders and firms are taken through a capacity-building workshop. The training program has been deemed to offer a major paradigm shift due to its strategic focus on behavior change. Beyond the training, IIA assigns a consultant who works with the firm to integrate the lessons delivered into the operations of the business.
The BLP is funded by the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) through the African Development Bank.
It is instructive to note that IIA complements the Business Linkage Program with a second vehicle called the African Partner Pool (APP) through which graduates of the BLP are placed to go on to win contracts posted by large businesses.