May 22-24, 2010. Ghana -- The CEIBS 2009 EMBA Class in Accra welcomed three eminent speakers during its Entrepreneurial Management course: Mr. Prince Kofi Amoabeng, Mr. Patrick Awuah, and Mr. Charles Nornoo. The gentlemen provided a wealth of information by drawing on their successes in launching their own start-ups. Earlier this year, in a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in collaboration with the Business and Financial Times newspaper, Mr. Amoabeng’s peers voted him Ghana’s most respected CEO. The company he heads, UT Financial Services, was also voted Ghana’s most respected company in 2010.

Mr. Prince Kofi Amoabeng

Mr. Prince Kofi Amoabeng, Ghana’s most respected CEO for 2010. Mr. Amoabeng co-founded UT in 1997 as Unique Trust Financial Services, with the objective of providing loans to the “unbanked” informal sector. Over the years, UT has broadened its focus to servicing the short-term credit and trade financing needs of SMEs. UT prides itself on clearing loans in less than 48 hours. The company, which has grown to 722 employees with a strong presence across Ghana, has also recently opened operations in Nigeria and Germany. It is now a publicly owned firm with shares listed and actively traded on the Ghana Stock Exchange. Sharing his entrepreneurial learning over the years, Mr. Amoabeng made the point that unless one has strong empathy for others, one cannot be a good entrepreneur. Empathy helps you see a given situation from the perspective of others, and allows you to understand what needs to be done to make that situation better for them, he explained. His second tip to would-be entrepreneurs was for them to be ruthlessly realistic about their ventures: to see their ventures as they were, with all their strengths and weaknesses. Third, he recommended a commitment to continuous capacity building, both for entrepreneurs and their organizations, to ensure that they keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields. Finally, he urged entrepreneurs to treat everyone with respect. He added that one way he ensured that everyone was respected at UT was by ensuring that systems and procedures were adhered to at all times.

Mr. Patrick Awuah

Mr. Patrick Awuah, Founder of Ashesi University. The course’s second guest speaker was Mr. Patrick Awuah, the founder of Ashesi University which is the subject of a recent case study by Stanford Business School Dean Prof. Garth Saloner. While still in his teens, Mr. Awuah left Ghana on a scholarship to study at the elite Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, USA. His liberal arts educational experience at Swarthmore, with its emphasis on critical thinking and ethics, was an eye-opener for him. When he joined Microsoft in Redmond after graduation, he could see how useful his education had been in preparing him for work in a dynamic, knowledge-intensive industry. He became convinced that Ghana needed an institution modelled along the lines of Swarthmore if it was to develop the kind of leaders that the country would need in the future. He decided to acquire the business skills needed to set up and run an institution on his own. To achieve this goal, he enrolled in the MBA programme at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating, he set up Ashesi University in Accra. Sharing the many difficult challenges he and his team faced in making their dream a reality, he gave details about the difficult process of introducing the Honor System at Ashesi. Under this system, students joining the institution give a commitment to abide by a strict code of ethics. The system is designed to achieve self-monitoring by the students themselves. Once it becomes operational, students are allowed to write exams unsupervised, and can even write closed-book exams at home. The Honor System is fully operational at the university, Mr. Awuah said. In just seven years since it was founded, Ashesi broke even, financially, for the first time in 2009, with tuition revenues exceeding operating expenses. Its total enrolment exceeds 450 students, with over 100 new graduates being added every year. It has now launched a campaign to raise US$7.2 million to build its own campus. Ashesi is now the university of choice for parents and aspiring university students alike. Mr. Awuah’s achievements have received wide recognition: he was nominated as a Global Leader 2007 by the World Economic Forum; and awarded Membership of the Order of the Volta by His Excellency, President J.A. Kufuor. He is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative (a branch of the Aspen Global Leadership Network), a member of the United States Council on Foreign Relations, the Pacific Council on International Policy, and the United States Tau Beta Pi honour society for excellence in engineering.

Mr. Charles Nornoo

Mr. Charles Nornoo, Executive Director of Development Solutions Centre The third speaker to address the EMBA class was Mr. Charles Nornoo, Executive Director of Development Solutions Centre (DSC) and Chief Executive of Genuine Products Ltd. An agricultural economist by training, Mr. Nornoo has over 19 years experience as a development practitioner, business consultant and entrepreneur. This blend of unique experiences and leadership skills accounts for the success of DSC. Mr. Nornoo began his career as an Evaluation Specialist with TechnoServe Inc., and within eight years rose to become the Ghana Country Programme Manager and the Lead Person for the worldwide development of TechnoServe’s Monitoring and Evaluation Systems. After leaving TechnoServe in 2001, Mr. Nornoo was instrumental in establishing DSC, GPL, the West Africa Trade Hub of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Accra, the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) of the Rivers State in Nigeria, and the Newmont External Affairs Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (NEAMU) for Newmont Ghana Gold Limited. Speaking specifically about SME development in Ghana, Mr. Nornoo shared some insights from his vast experience. He pointed out, for example, that development funding for SMEs is most effective when it is combined with capacity development in the areas of managerial expertise, product development, marketing, planning and systems. He spoke of several success stories where SMEs had achieved sustainable and profitable growth through interventions by DSC. While most of the interventions had taken place in the agricultural products sector, there were a few in other areas such as general manufacturing and artisan products, he said.

DSC facilitated the provision of a two-week training of small-scale vegetable farmers in Accra on Quality control and financial Management under the Eden Tree Project. One of 21 USADF funded projects being implemented by DSC in Ghana.

Photographs of HPI Project beneficiary activities and facilities

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