For the first time in the over three decades of the Association of Ghana Industries’ (AGI) existence, a clinical pharmacist, Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi, is leading the institution and his pledge is one that will not just reassert the crucial role manufacturing plays in Ghana’s development but expand the frontier of businesses.
To achieve his objectives, Dr. Gyamfi, who is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Danpong Group, a pharmaceutical conglomerate, says he will prioritise economic research for sound business decision-making while helping Ghanaian businesses to access the idling Nigeria market.
“While the research is needed to help expose businesses and policy makers to opportunities and challenges in the economy, accessing the Nigerian market is expected to increase sales for Ghanaian enterprises, leading to expansion and growth. This should inure to the industrialisation drive of the country and AGI in particular,” he says, after his investiture last week.
He said his decision to prioritise bilateral relations for business growth was based on the conviction that no business can survive without markets.
“Most of our businesses are frustrated and do not know what to do because they cannot see at the end of the tunnel. Even if you are given money and you produce but do not have the market to sell, then there is no use of you,” he said.
Dr Gyamfi, who is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Danpong Group, said although entry into Nigeria remained a critical success factor to businesses in the country, the lack of a deliberate strategy to “hand-hold” these companies into that country had meant that the opportunity remained unexplored.
This limits the aspirations of Ghana’s entrepreneurs and their business adventures to Ghana’s population of about 28 million, he said. However, with a population of about 180 million people, Dr Gyamfi, who is leading the new team for the next four years, said everything showed that Ghanaian businesses could more than double their fortunes if aided to enter and stay in Nigeria.
“As president of AGI, it is not the position that I am interested in; it is about what I can do to help bring people on board to think collectively about how to develop industry and the economy.
How can we do this? First of all, we need to ask ourselves; where is the market?” he asked, explaining that answering that question helped to discover where to create synergies for growth.
“From where I sit, I have realised that if I am able to create better synergies with Nigeria and we are able to export there, where 180 million people live, then it means that we will be able to access over 200 million people. That is big enough for us,” he said.
The specific motivation for entering Nigeria?
Dr. Gyamfi believes that Ghana businesses have a lot in common with it West African colleague due to the Anglophone connection, the size of the market and the high appetite for quality.
“Francophone countries still have their umbilical cords tied to France. So, what I am saying is that if we are able to link Ghana and Nigeria, who are brothers anyway, then we will create an unimaginable market for Ghanaian businesses to go in and operate,” he said.
To signal his commitment to realising that goal, Dr Gyamfi ensured that a number of key persons in Nigeria’s industrial sector witnessed his investiture in Accra. Among them were a former Head of State of Nigeria, Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar; the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs; and the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Okey Akpa.
This, he said, was to set the tone for further discussions aimed at creating fruitful relations for both sides.
Solving the business sustainability headache
Even though Ghana, just like other countries, experience new business or start-up collapse, the case here is worse compared to the global statistic. Statistics by the Harvard Business School shows that 75percent of venture-backed start-ups fail globally, in Ghana’s case, the data is approaching 90percent.
The reason, he said, is that majority of such businesses were not established after thorough research, making it easier for them to wither away after coming into contact with challenges they might not have anticipated. This is unacceptable and a great indictment to the country, hence the need to back business establishment and operation with quality research, Dr Gyamfi.
To help forestall it, he said businesses needed to develop “a market where there is continuity – a chain of production where you can get the raw materials to be able to produce for the business to be sustainable. “Don’t forget, our aim is to build sustainable businesses, not businesses that will start today and die off tomorrow,” he said.
Businesses need regular collaboration with gov’t
No business or economic sector, across the globe, has survived without government’s support through the implementation of business-friendly policies and introduction of incentives that support growth and job creation.
Dr. Gyamfi, therefore, called for the need to see more collaboration between his organization and the government to help revive ailing businesses. Already, the government has established a stimulus package for businesses that were negatively impacted by the three year energy crisis.
Government last year confirmed that 80 companies, mostly AGI members, have been approved to benefit from the GH¢200million package.
“We want to be able to identify businesses which we can move to the next level. In fact, within the four years of our term, we want to work with the government to at least, move five companies from each region from where they are now to become bigger companies. It does not matter the sector; we just need to move them to the next level to become giants,” he said.
In all this, he said the creation of employment would be key, looking at the negative implications of joblessness to the country. As a result, he said the association, under his leadership, would collaborate with the Ministry of Education to develop skills that suited the requirements and aspirations of industry.
He will also encourage member companies to mentor the youth into entrepreneurship as a way of “developing better men and women for the future.” He thus called on other executives, members of the association and well-meaning Ghanaians to support him his drive to reposition Ghanaian companies to realise their full potential.
The association was founded in 1984 and currently has over 1,200 registered member companies in 22 sectors. About 85percent of its members are SMEs.
Brief profile of Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi
Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi is the Founder and Group CEO of Danpong Group of Companies, made up of Danpong Medical Centre, Laboratory and Pharmacy on Spintex Road, with various pharmacy branches in the country.
He is also the CEO of Danadams Pharmaceuticals Industry Limited, the first company producing Antiretroviral medicines (HIV Drugs) in the country and exporting to other ECOWAS countries. His company currently has over 500 local and international workforce.
Dr. Gyamfi holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmacy from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and is a fellow of the West African College of Postgraduate Pharmacists. He has also completed an Executive MBA degree at Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
He holds two Bachelor of Science degrees in both Chemistry and Mathematics from Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. In Ghana, he attended Konongo-Odumasi and Opoku Ware Secondary Schools where he obtained G.C.E. “O” and “A” level Certificates respectively.
He was the Vice President of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) – Large Scale, former 1st Vice President of Ghana Employers Association (GEA). He is also a member of Ghana Chamber of Commerce. He served as a Commissioner on Public Utility Regulatory Commission, Board Chairman for Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company and Ghana Pharmacy Council.
He has served as a Council member of the following Universities in Ghana; University of Health and Allied Health Services (UHAS), Ho, Central University School of Pharmacy, Ghana College of Post-Graduate Pharmacists, and Mountcrest University.
Dr. Yaw’s overseas work experiences include ownership and management of Adamsville Delivery Pharmacy in Atlanta, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Hospital and Medical Centre in Atlanta. He has a lot of business exposure; participated in international business meetings as a Speaker and Panelist. He is now President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).