You don’t necessarily need to have a huge operational base to do big business. With a little seed and harnessing experience, knowledge and relationships, one can start small and grow in value. This is evident of how Mr. Aaron Oduro, founder of A Comp Services Limited has nurtured his business.
Upon graduating in 1988 from the West Africa Secondary School and Workers College (now Accra City Campus of the University of Ghana), he was recruited by a UK-based supplies merchant dealing in safety wares, electrical equipment, stationery and other materials required by mining companies. The company at the time was making its initial entry into Ghana. They signed him up as a Shareholder and Director, responsible for sales and marketing.
After five years of operations, the sudden demise of his expatriate co-director unfortunately led to the closure of the business. Oduro did not sit back but capitalised on his experience and set up A Comp Services. Today, he has expanded A Comp’s offerings to include laboratory equipment, agro and solar products. The company has also developed a business model which encourages partnerships with local importers as part of its supply chain.
Challenge – recurrent clients and revenue
Although the business has made progress over the years, Oduro has typically relied on the business of one-off and seasonal clients which meant an unending cycle of searching for and acquiring new customers to manage their cashflow. For many years, it was Oduro’s desire to have all-year-round repeat customers.
Harnessing opportunity and reaping the benefits
When A Comp got the opportunity to join Invest in Africa’s African Partner Pool (APP) in the latter part of 2017, he did not turn it down. The APP is an online marketplace that bridges the gap between large companies with procurement needs (referred to as buyers) and SMEs who have products and services to sell (referred to as suppliers). The APP, launched in 2014, was borne out of the difficulty local SMEs face in making themselves visible to larger companies; and vice versa large corporates making their procurement opportunities visible to a wider base of SMEs.
In early 2018, Oduro saw a bid request posted by Ecobank Ghana on the APP. He put in an application and subsequently won a contract to supply several items of stationeries; and one year on, the contract is still in force. According to him, the deal with Ecobank has had a very positive impact on his company’s cash flow due to the recurrent nature of the arrangement and prompt payment by the bank. Proud that he can now boast of having a regional banking powerhouse among his list of clients, he also reveals that inflows from the Ecobank alone approximately constituted 30% of his revenue in 2018.
More opportunities continue to come way through the APP. More recently, the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), an initiative backed by the US Government, has also extended an opportunity to them. This, too, has been a revenue boost for A Comp.
A Comp looks forward to leveraging other opportunities offered by Invest in Africa; in particular their financing support through their partner banks – Ecobank Ghana, GCB and Barclays Ghana – for business expansion.
Since its establishment in Ghana in 2014, Invest in Africa has demonstrated commitment to improving local SMEs’ access to skills, contracts and finance to build long-term capacity. Through its flagship capacity building programme, the Business Linkage Programme, Invest in Africa offers coaching and mentorship interventions that assist SMEs to scale-up and become globally competitive.