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Going home with a business plan

March 26th, 2007 Posted in Business, General, Politics, Travel

Ghana BeachOn the train ride home last week I ran into a Ghanaian friend of mine and we got to talking about what else, doing business in Ghana. As we compared stories and ideas, my friend expressed to me his frustration with building a house in Ghana. Granted he still lives in the US, it is taking him 3 years to begin the process due to land disputes. The way he tells it, the land he purchased had been sold to another person by the same chief who was now dead. And because of the “light” record keeping, he was now stuck trying to haggle with another developer who stood to gain a lot more from the land. The discussion brought about one of my many fears of going back to Ghana with a Western mentality of doing business. I’ve heard from more than enough people about the complicated processes which slow down or even halt business in many countries on the continent, and at least for now I can’t get my head around it. In my rationale it serves a government entity, or even a businessperson, well to maintain processes that allows for ease of enterprise, particularly when that entity already has a bad reputation with foreigners. I’m not saying that we should kneel to foreign investments, but it doesn’t do anybody any good to run things as if it were a personal household. When we are in a position where we need all the help we can get, it serves us well to go beyond our comfort zone to make things easier for both foreign and domestic businesses. I guess Ghana in particular is in a transitional stage right now, with many of us returning home after living for so long in the UK and US, and trying to create a way of life we are already used to. In an allafrica.com article Benin highlighted in his Africa Investment series we are made aware of the Ghanaian ambassador’s investment “tour” of the US. In the article the ambassador, Dr. Kwame Bawuah-Edusei, says,

“The right environment should be created in the country so that those who have shown interest in setting up businesses in Ghana would not be frustrated. For example, the registration of businesses should take a day not days or weeks. That is the only way we can attract more investors into the country.”

This is good to hear from a government official especially since Ghana has been posting GDP gains for six consecutive years and is currently the most stable country in West Africa according to Inc. magazine. For those of us looking to retire to our homeland, I can only hope that processes and infrastructures back home back up the efforts of the ambassador. But despite the problems, I will continue to see the glass of opportunity as half full.

  • Akos

    Well, well, well… what can i say? I was in contact with a Dutch national’white’ recently, who purchased land in Ghana whose documentation went as far as being recorded on camera all signatories and fingerprints of the said land owners, just so the provability would be sufficient evidence. It didnt as he’s still in and our of court….No matter how much you try to protect yourself, it somehow seems to find a way of getting at you. It’s a tricky system from the sellers to the mishandling of files at the registry. Unfortunate but true.

  • http://www.annansiclothing.com Kofi

    And I’m sure the Dutch man will continue to have second thoughts about doing anything else in Ghana. So who do you hold responsible? the seller or the official whose job it is to make sure the process works?

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Pingback: Going home with a business plan « MY GLOBAL HUSTLE BLOG

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  • Sijui

    Nice blog! Just wanted to post my two cents. I’m a Kenyan married to a Ghanaian and we’re in the process of moving permanently back to Accra this year. A lot of generalizations have been made about buying land, starting a business….I’m here to report that we’ve done both….successfully, and its not rocket science all things considered in Ghana. The trick is do your homework and use common sense. Also collaborate with a local expert to get you through the process. It is not as difficult as people say it is, and as others have already pointed out ad nasuem, the business and political environment now is excellent.

  • http://www.annansiclothing.com Kofi

    Thanks for sharing Sijui. It’s good to hear stories like yours. Your suggestion to collaborate with a local expert could possibly be the step others have missed. I think particularly in Ghana where having connections are a big deal, using a reliable agent might make all the difference.

    Hmmm. Someone should start a agent matchmaking business. There seems to be a great need. Any takers?

  • Kofi

    Does anyone know of any local consultants who can write a business plan for me?

    Thanks

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