Webster Ghana Masterclass Sparks Interest in Pursuing Made-in-Ghana Business Ventures
February 07, 2020
The Webster Ghana Business Masterclass was encouraged to looking at the loopholes
in the Ghanaian agribusiness and packaged goods industries. Where local Ghanaian food
producers continue to be at a disadvantage in poor business practices, the Ghana business
masterclass created the theme “Homegrown: Establishing Market Success for Local Foods
and Made-in-Ghana Products.”
The past few decades have seen the issue of supporting made-in-Ghana products continue to gain momentum, birthing initiatives such as 2019’s, “Eat Ghana Rice” campaign and consistently addressing the problem of the country’s insatiable longing/desire for foreign brands. Many local Ghanaian food producers continue to be at a disadvantage with little to no patronage or sustaining major yield losses owing to poor business practices.
Opening with a presentation, Heather Gordon, visiting faculty and Leif J. Sverdrup Global Teaching Fellow from the Savanah, Georgia extended military campus, the business masterclass also featured prominent figures as guest speakers, Edmund Poku, CEO of Niche Chocolate and Nana Ama Aning Oppong-Duah, an agribusiness and policy advisor with the J.A. Kufuor Foundation.
Gordon’s introduction set the stage for the discussions by taking a look at how the United States successfully initiated a "Made in America" campaign to move Americans to patronize local goods and how Ghana can easily follow suit. Gordon is currently teaching marketing and finance classes at Webster Ghana focusing on developing entrepreneurs’ skills for business success.
Exploring Ghanaian business within the agricultural context with a specific focus on local rice, Oppong-Duah championed the need for Ghana to shift towards sustainable agro-based raw materials with homegrown solutions. Oppong-Duah encouraged agriculture enthusiasts to join the rice producers of Ghana as rice has overtaken the once top-consumed yams thanks to rapid urbanization and ease of cooking. There is a large gap between the amount of rice Ghanaian consumers seek and what the nation is currently producing, offering a significant business opportunity. Beyond farming and selling raw produce, Oppong-Duah made the case for value addition and the greater profit margins in the export market.
Poku dazzled the audience with a video on the success of the Niche confectionary brand and how it grew from modest beginnings to the impressive award-winning and globally recognized chocolate products. Poku entreated the audience to understand how key education is to one’s future success, referring to how his business developed from an MBA class project while at Columbia University.
Poku spoke about learning the ins and outs of his industry and the need to gain practical experience at all levels of business. Expanding on Oppong-Duah and Gordon’s lesson on standards and competition, Poku mentioned a big factor in the success of his chocolate company was not compromising on brand standards and quality with globally competitive packaging that could compete with the likes of Hershey and Godiva.
The Masterclass attracted a great deal of attention and audience participation from university students from different institutions in Accra, aspiring entrepreneurs and team members from established brands. Many sought counsel regarding tips to success in the pursuit of homegrown businesses and questioned the role of government in seeking financial support. The memorable event ended with a business card raffle of a crate of all made-in-Ghana products and a sampling of the renowned Niche chocolate for all participants.