My quest to see SMEs succeed birthed my own business


…the story behind Universal Marketing Consultancy (UMC) Ltd.

Many of us have heard countless times that the path to success is through helping other people achieve their success. That saying resonates with one young man whose enthusiasm to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in the northern part of the country to grow landed him his own business. His name is Van-Ess Alootey, the Chief Executive Officer of Universal Marketing Consultancy (UMC) Ltd. Read more as he recounts how it all started.


Van-Ess Alootey holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

His outfit, Universal Marketing Consultancy (UMC) Ltd., was adjudged the Service Provider of the Year at the 2022 Young Entrepreneur Awards, organised by the Ghana Startup Network.

Van-Ess described himself as a self-motivated, adaptable, results-driven and industrious individual who has over twelve years of experience working as an entrepreneur.

He is also a business development expert and a social enterprise advocate who enjoys collaborating with individuals, institutes, organisations or groups in creating and designing strategic ideas for start-ups, providing strategic policy direction for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as initiating and building strong marketing and communication tools that project and enhance brands and services on the Ghanaian market.

Before all these, Van-Ess recounted that growing up as a young boy, he was always excited about everything leadership and business advisory, hence, he had wanted to be a consultant even though he didn’t know what that meant.

“The courage and confidence to stand before a large crowd to sell or deliver a message motivated me to read a lot of books to hone my communication skills and build my knowledge base and confidence for public speaking.

“For me, it is always like: ‘What can I do for society’? This is because I am always interested in what I can do to improve another person’s life. I think that is what life is all about for me. It has always been service, service and service,” he said.

With such ambition and passion to leverage his skills to support businesses, especially SMEs to project their operations, Van-Ess was still not sure how this would churn out until 2015, when he was having his National Service at Tamale.

According to him, the idea to start a marketing and communication consultancy firm in 2015 was to fill a need, a gap he identified in the northern part of the country during his National Service in the region.

“The absence of a 360 marketing and communication agency that provided a support system for existing and emerging SMEs gave birth to Universal Marketing Consultancy (UMC) ltd.

“The focus of the agency is to help project and create a market for the products and services of indigenous companies. The quality of the products and services of SMEs from the north was a huge motivation for me to start the firm as a way of providing support services for these SMEs to grow,” he said.

With the increasing rate of unemployment, he also noted that youths need to understand that they cannot continue to seek jobs that are non-existent while sleeping on their God-given talent.

These words inspired him to help other start-ups which made the effort, and also to think twice as a young entrepreneur to strive hard to reach for the sky as the limit in his entrepreneurial journey.

Van-Ess believes that the ability to muster courage in life and take a good decision to transform one’s life is the surest way to grow and contribute to the development of society and the nation at large.

UMC’s services have been uniquely designed to meet the needs of its clients. They include outdoor advertising (360 Outdoor Campaigns), brand activation, revenue mobilisation, and skills training and development.

“The value system that defines UMC Ltd. is what makes our services unique. The firm is driven by a culture of excellence and integrity, which are the new currency for doing business today, and the timely delivery of our flawless services to our growing list of satisfied clients. These are the things that define and make us stand out as a leading service provider in the region,” he said.

How education and work experience has helped

Talking about his university degree, he said: “The whole course structure was marketing and communication-driven, and the knowledge and exposure I acquired influenced my decision to start a marketing and communication agency in the north.

“My previous work experience with other companies has all had an impact on my company. The priceless knowledge and experience I got from these institutions over the period I worked with them have contributed significantly to the growth of my firm.

“I always encourage young people who intend to start a business in future to take the skills and knowledge they acquired during internship and National Service seriously as these experiences will, in the long run, be beneficial to whatever enterprises they want to set up.”


Van-Ess said the business environment, especially the rigorous tax regime system in the country, poses a huge challenge to their expansion and growth.

“The high-interest rates from the banks make taking loans to expand our operations difficult. The right human resource to train and work with, especially at the early stages of the business, has been a huge challenge.

“Outdoor advertising and its related services are capital-intensive. Funding remains a big challenge for our operations, especially in the country where angel investors are practically non-existent.”


In the next five years, the vision of Universal Marketing Consultancy (UMC) Ltd. is to project and create a bigger market for products and services of SMEs in the Northern Region and the country at large while targetting the West Africa markets like Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

“Research has shown that with the right marketing strategy, SMEs can penetrate the West Africa market and rake in the needed revenue while scaling up their operations in the long term,” he said.

So far, the firm has worked with about 60 organisations, including SMEs and start-ups.

How should government assist start-ups?

Given that there is a need for start-ups to scale up their operations, Van-Ess is confident this can only be done through a deliberate government policy support system.

He added that more financial, technical and managerial interventions are critical to helping grow start-ups to impact society.

“There must be a conscious effort by Ghana Enterprises Agency and other allied agencies to continually support start-ups to grow in the country.”

Advice to young entrepreneurs

“Entrepreneurship is an exciting but, oftentimes, a very lonely journey for persons who dare to dream and are willing to make sacrifices to see their dreams come true. You must have a lot of grit if you want to succeed in that space. There are no short-cuts to succeeding in business.

“You must have an open mind that is willing to learn and take all the criticisms in good faith, and a strong character to weather the storms when challenges come up along the way.

“Finally, if you can develop and build a strong network base, your entrepreneurial journey can be more rewarding and fulfilling than you imagined.”

Contact details


Email: [email protected]

Tel: +233207434968/+233242815480

Facebook: Universal Marketing Consultancy ltd.

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