Bright Simons: “I will invest in ‘warehouse-for-short term hire’ facilities in Ghana if I had $50,000”

According to the Trading Economics website, Ghana’s GDP is currently growing at 4.9% which is an increase from 3.9% in the third quarter. However, Ghana’s oil business does not seem favorable due to the global fall in prices. On October 18, I asked my Facebook audience which sector in Ghana they would like to invest in if they had access to $50,000. I asked such a random question to understand which sectors or small business opportunities in Ghana seemed more attractive to the citizens in the country. On my Facebook wall I asked:

“If I have $50,000 to invest in any sector in Ghana, which specific sector will you recommend and why?”

Below are some of the responses I got on the subject matter. These response have been categorised under the various sectors indicated by the respondents.

Agriculture

The question caught the attention of some of my Facebook friends and they shared interesting views about which sector they deemed  more attractive and profitable to invest in. The CEO and founder of Ady Amani Clothings pointed out that, she will invest the $50K in farms specifically growing vegetables. However, Kane Mani, CEO of Orrigin, argued that “we have been investing in agriculture even before Ghana was independent. It hasn’t been a good bet and will never be. Almost 70% of Ghanaians are farmers yet we still see no progress. Why do we invest in an area that has proven overtime that it doesn’t work. We need to drop everything and invest in technology.” Michael Addanaye pointed out that the emergence of technology agriculture still seems to be the best bet to invest in for many young Ghanaians, he said – “we even import tomatoes and onion from Burkina Faso. With the emergence of new technologies, farming is the best bet. You can make a lot of profit within a short time as you create jobs and contribute to food security. Ghana’s agriculture is highly regulated by the government which stifles lots of growth, Charlene Bello believes that if the sector is less regulated by government, there will be some improvement, she said – ” the problem is state regulation and the fact that marketing of our agriculture is so closely controlled by the state, they should release those sectors and come back to tax (minimally) the profits.”

 

Technology

I thought the first sector that will be mentioned will be in the tech industry, to my surprise, none of my Facebook respondents mentioned it in the first five options. The tech industry in Ghana is still new and quite risky to invest in and it has a small percentage of users. Gary Al-Smith, in response to the Facebook post indicated that, “the Ghana tech industry is still extremely risky to invest in and that includes apps like Waakye Locator which will get heavy usage by me, but not by the masses.  It is however not reasonable to expect me to use my hard earned capital to go into a risky area. Which is why the nascent tech industry must target angel investors and other parastatal funds. They have more altruistic interests.” Kane Manni, a tech entrepreneur, disagreed with Gary’s comment saying – “everything is risky at the beginning. It grows overtime. The industry will stabilize in 5-10 years. However, If we don’t put in the work to averse the risk, it will never attain maturity. It will take other hugely financially successful tech entrepreneurs who understand the business of technology to put in their own money to fund start-ups so we can create huge success stories. It’s only when this happens that angels and VCs will be willing to put in money. It’s sad most investors don’t believe in the tech industry at this point but we will change that story and perception.”

 

Sanitation

One of the respondents to my Facebook posts indicated their interest in investing in public toilets, which is commonly known as the “shit business” where users will pay an affordable fee to be able to have access to it. In explaining how to make profit from such a business, Weyinmi Ebobo explained that, “the high income folks won’t really use a public toilet, most have decent toilets in their offices and besides hotels, restaurants and the likes. The middle income folks are basically restricted in their movement since they are more or less in a particular location at the time of the day or offices. The low income who have, happens to be the vast majority would easily and readily patronize it. So you could make it affordable while you use the population to make the returns on your investment. For a populace city like Accra, it would always be in demand just as in Lagos”

 

Real Estate

The real estate business is growing rapidly in Ghana. It was not surprising to see some of the comments on the Facebook post geared towards real estate business. Ebenezer Gwumah indicated that “buying/building a home and eliminating the pain of investing in someone’s rent. Land disputes in Ghana are too much for this brother to make a business out of.” In agreement to Ebenezer’s view, Veronica Marfo, CEO of Kente Hub, also commented that all you need to do is to “find a land close to a university with large number of admissions and build a spacious hostel. Your investment returns is assured. Nick Adatsi, a young and upcoming photographer, also commented that “real estate would be an awesome idea. Build/ create an affordable community of tiny home apartments targeted towards entrepreneurs, graduates about starting life with maximum stay of 5years.”

 

Finance

The banking services in Ghana is booming, however, Penelope S. Bartels-Sam gave another opportunity which is the agency banking, she says in her comment “my industry is Agency Banking. There are tens of thousands of agents nationwide who are offering various financial services like mobile money, bank account opening, deposits and withdrawals and they need liquidity support. They get more traffic than their capital can handle. You can offer some carefully-selected agents overdrafts at prevailing bank lending rates. You can do this through a partner bank so that you secure your principal and earn monthly. Agency Banking is when a bank extends its services into the communities through shops owned by third parties. At a shop that maybe sells provisions or electricals et cera, you can go and deposit funds into your bank account, do your deposits and withdrawals and many more. Some offer Account opening, Mobile money, Bill payments et cera.”

 

In addition to gathering ideas from my Facebook page/wall, I sent an email to one of the young seasoned entrepreneurs in Ghana – Bright Simons to help me have a better understanding of the investment opportunities in Ghana. He articulated, “I strongly believe that trade-related logistics infrastructure is the biggest missing gap in the economy right now. There are virtually no ‘warehouse-for-short term hire’ facilities in Ghana, even in the capital, Accra, or in the industrial hub of Tema, that are suitable for SME use and budgets. If I had an unencumbered $50,000, I would most likely invest in building an SME-friendly warehouse in Tema or Accra with an online booking interface for customer engagement, and I would target the many SMEs that need short-term leasing space for all manner of trade-related reasons.”

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