Are you looking for a list of profitable African business opportunities? Then you are at the right place! We are back from our Business & Investment Mission to Ghana 2017 and what an amazing and successful trip it has been!
I have to say: I am used to working in Africa and to opening doors, but the doors have been opened so widely this time for our participants that even I was surprised 🙂
Frankly it took our participants 5 days to get a foot into the door…oh no, make that two feet, in a very concrete manner. They are ready to go and get their business started in Ghana RIGHT NOW!
But we did our homework – we positioned them strongly, so they approached local stakeholders from a position of strength offering concrete value to the local company, the country's markets and development agenda. It was powerful stuff…..and the business partners we met ranged from committed hard-working cocoa farmers….. over managers of top banks and hotels…..to Ghana's leading government departments.
Done – done – and done!
Maybe now it is YOUR turn, to step into your very own potential that may still be hidden deep inside you….your turn to tap into Africa's HUGE resources and demands on the marketplace….to build a lifestyle you truly crave….to build wealth for yourself and Africa!
What are you waiting for?!
In today’s post I want to cover some of Ghana’s amazing opportunities. I have covered a huge deal following our last business mission last year, and if you missed that article, you can still read more about those secret insights in my blog post:
But today I want to let you into more opportunities [images used in this post are all my own!].
How much capital do I need to start a profitable African Business in Ghana?
Before I share some amazing business insights, we need to get some clarity first: It is very important that you understand how much capital you need when starting a business in Ghana….if you are a non-Ghanaian national. And with that I do not mean the starting capital for your own business operations, but the capital the Government of Ghana requires you to bring into Ghana if you are not a citizen of the country.
We were welcomed by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), which is the government entity for doing business and investing in Ghana. And we asked them that particular question, to get some clarity. Well, there is bad news and good news for you if you want to start a business in Ghana as a non-national – and it is straight forward. You can watch my 6 mins video about those exact requirements here.
Opportunity #1: Chocolate processing!
The chocolate industry is a billion Dollar industry worldwide. But did you know that a total of 70% of all the cocoa in the world comes from Africa? And out of that both Ghana and Ivory Coast are Africa's top producers.
The tragedy however is that Ghana and other cocoa producing countries in Africa are exporting their chocolate in raw format. They make about 20% profits or less of the chocolate trade, whereas the remaining 80% is made outside of Africa. Why? Because value addition – so the processing of a raw product such as cocoa into a final product such as chocolate is where the money is. And that is not taking place in Africa.
And for this reason, when the world thinks about chocolate, it thinks Belgium chocolate….or Swiss chocolate….. – and sadly, Africa is not on that map.
But there is good news! The awareness across our continent is finally, finally changing. LOCAL value addition through processing and manufacturing is the TOP agenda of almost every fast emerging African economy….and Ghana is no exception. This is very true for the cocoa industry, too.
We met with the new Ghana Cocoa Board. It is a huge office, with a clear mandate, and a strong vision. And many people in the cocoa industry we talked to, have the hope and optimism that things are finally changing.
This is where you come in!
You can start processing chocolate locally, sell it in Ghana, export it into other African markets or outside of Africa (did you for example know that a great amount of Ghanian cocoa is exported to Japan?).
You may worry about this being a very complex or capital intensive venture…
Let me tell you: We met a couple of chocolate makers in Ghana – one who grew up there and ome from the Diaspora who moved to her homeland in Ghana from Britain just two years ago…
And they are rocking!
They both started their chocolate vanture on a shoestring budget….learned how to make chocolate on YouTube…..they use their kitchen and homes as processing plants…..and they are producing amazing quality chocolate! So delicious and so well packaged and branded that top hotels, banks, corporate clients, and government among other belong to their clientele. Truly, the sky is their limit!
Watch my video where we are at a cocoa farm – here I share the start-up story of one of the local chocolate processors who raised to a leading brand in 2 years!
P.S. A huge thank you to the cocoa farmers who gave us so much insights – it was an amazing trip to the farms!
Opportunity #2: Start a Training Venture using your Skills
Those of you who have been following me for some time, know that setting up a training venture in Africa is in my view one of the best African business models for the Diaspora, which I have promoted for quite some time. This is particularly true, if you want to manage your African business from abroad and you want to get started on a shoestring budget. It allows you to use your knowledge, your skills, your experiences that you may have gained professionally as a base to start your venture. No capital injection needed (except for your website and flight tickets), no permits, access to land, imports, exports, inventory… Just you and your knowledge based on a sound strategy to enter the market and grow, because you provide amazing relevant content and quality.
It does not matter if you train ICT skills, customer service skills, team management, sales, high performance you will find a growing market in many of Africa’s capital cities.
But I will let you into a secret that I teach my boot camp participants, Academy members, and coaching clients: In general it is still difficult to sell ‘non-physical products’ in Africa. If you hand someone over a machinery they need and you say it costs $10,000 you can make that sale. But to sell a training in Africa at the same price is not as easy. This is why it is absolutely vital that you sell your training packages within industries that generally understand the value, because they heavily depend on it – and that's why they will pay. This is primarily the case in two African industries:
The financial industry and the hospitality industry. A training for engineers across various sectors, is another potential opportunity. Offer a training package relevant to one of them (we found out in Ghana that getting into the hospitality industry was easier, but you can also focus on smaller local financial companies). Then you build your track record and portfolio.
How to market your training? Word of mouth and repeat customers are what will allow you to grow once you have your foot in – we heard that first hand from training experts in Ghana.
Opportunity #3: Food Processing & Manufacturing
As you have heard in my video (the one on how much capital you need to bring into Ghana), manufacturing is a key priority for the government and hence non-Ghanaian nationals can start a manufacturing business in Ghana without any minimum capital requirements to get registered.
Manufacturing of course ranges across many industries, but I want to focus today on food & drink manufacturing. Why? Because it is going to be the fastest growing sector in Africa (according to Ernst & Young). This is why during my research routine, which I always do during any visit in Africa, I go through supermarket shelves to have a good look at product labels to get an understanding of locally manufactured brands. I was once more seriously SHOCKED of what I found (well, and what I did not find).
(Side note: My supermarket trips are so important to me that when I emerged out of the shop, my local business partner joked: ”When you disappeared in the supermarket, I told our participants that you were not in there to do shopping, but that you are checking out the products, and just when I finished saying that we saw you literally hanging half way in a freezer looking at labels.” 😊 )
Yes, indeed the freezer it was. Let me tell you about a few of my findings….and why they are AMAZING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES for you.
1. Potato chips (French fries)….or call it ‘peeling and cutting potatoes’
Producing potato chips (french fries) is probably one of the easiet manufacturing process one can think of. You get potatos, peel them, and cut them – done. Does Ghana have potatoes – yes you bet, and it also has sweet potatos, which you can also use.
Now, the freezers in our Accra supermarket where filled with potato chips (french fries) coming in all sizes and brands. They took up an entire long row, much more as I am used to in our supermarkets in Europe! Now guess where they were produced ?!
Holland – Denmark – Italy – and yes, GUATEMALA in South America ! None made-in-Ghana….
Cost of the imported french fries? A whopping US$6-8 for a 2,5 kg bag !!! Wow, what a healthy margin….but not much of this is staying in Ghana.
I know, well, this 'craziness' is continuing, so please keep on reading.
2. Tomato paste & ketchup….smashing tomatoes….
Africa is wasting millions & millions of tons of tomatos every single year. They rotten. In Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana…largely because of missing storing and transport facilties.
What does it take to produce tomato paste or ketchup? A simple manufacturing plant – maybe a little more sophisticated than cutting potato chips, but overall a straight forward process. You know what comes next right? Well, yes, I checked the ketchup…
I found one local brand. 3 brands were imported from France and one from as far as the USA. That's 4:1 for imports! When I asked the owner of a local hotel what kind of products they buy locally and what they import, tomato ketchup was one of the main food products she mentioned that she imported.
3. Cornflakes….made of….corn?
Whenever I do my research in African supermarkets, I check the breakfast cereals and I can tell you they are almost always completely imported. More and more upper middle class families in Africa adopt Western eating habits including breakfast….
Ghana has corn – and it is very cheap. Africa has corn in every backyard. Yet the cornflakes in our Accra supermarket – at a price of around a whopping US$6 – came all the way from the USA and Germany!!
This is a another niche opportunity for you…
4. Pineapple juice….just squeeze it
Ghana is the land of pineapples. They are sweet, delicious, juicy and hands down some of the best fruits I have ever eaten anywhere – in Africa or abroad.
They melt on your tongue.
Pineapple juice production requires…..well….to squeeze the juice out of the fruit….and then package it. Simpler than simple, right?!
And where did the pineapple juice in this large supermarket come from?
France (4 brands !!!), Egypt, and Lebanon!
France wins. A country where no pineapple grows, sells its pineapple fruit juice brands to Ghana – the land of pineapple.
Ok, why don't we look at sliced pineapples. Tiny pieces in a tin. Simpler than juice.
Canned fruits – tropical fruits! – in Accra's supermarket shelves came from China, France at US$2-5 and the sliced pineapple came from…..Ghana….? Nope, Thailand it was – at $4.
Cutting pineapples and mangos into bite-sized pieces in Ghana and transporting them the same day by air into London is a business model we came across during our last business mission in Ghana with a Diaspora entrepreneur. He had won major deals with Tesco's and Sainsbury's (UK's largest supermarket chains) and just this simple concept made him a millionaire after returning to Ghana for business a few years ago. And this does make sense – because the UK loves pineapple but does not grow them. Ghana does. Your opportunity in this area is manifold.
But back to our supermarket in Accra….and here is something I simply did not expect…..
5. Cocoa powder…..the brown gold of Ghana, right?!
As you know we covered Ghana's cocoa industry in great detail during this business mission trip. Ghana is the world second largest producer of cocoa after Ivory Coast, which is next door. So surely, I would find simple cocoa powder in the supermarket. The kind of simple process you require to produce the powder one uses for baking…or making a chocolate drink….
I marched to the shelve and saw immediately that it offered quite a lot of options. Great! Who would have thought. But then seriously, I was in for a shock – probably the biggest I ever during my famous Africa supermarket research. There was ONE made-in-Ghana cocoa brand on the shelve.The cocoa powder in Ghana's popular supermarket was imported from….
Price range US $4 – 18 (for the Nesquick)
Now I have to confess: I was not happily or patiently taking notes anymore. I kind of always do, with the feeling of excitement for the opportunities this creates for people in Africa, for the Diaspora…..for people like you and me. But this time I got angry. Seriously. I marched out of the supermarket back to our group and for the first time, I said: 'This is stupidity. It's simply sad and stupid and we all have to start taking responsibility.'
I hope I did not offend anyone.
But sometimes the truth hits home.
Here you have the cradle of cocoa bean production, yet the products – the simple cocoa powder – is imported from around the globe from countries who don't produce a single bean. We have the richest continent on this planet – yet we complain about poverty and see the devastation of it every single day
The cocoa powder example in Ghana's supermarket – a country that even enjoyed peace, stability, and economic growth for decades – is the image of that contradiction across the continent. And for once I don't accept that we use colonialism or corrupt leaders or even expensive electricity as our escape goat for not being able to produce pineapple juice or cocoa powder locally…..create jobs…..cut down import spending (yes, it will have to happen gradually and that's OK)…..and develop….
Yes many challenges exist. Many – but we need to get started anyway. Luckily, things are changing in Africa – with the new generation of African entrepreneurs at the forefront and increasingly enabling policies – peple have built amazing and powerful businesses. Many who are right now starting from scratch and who arelaying the foundation for new African business empires. Leaders. Innovators. Disrupters. This is where we find our hope and our amazing one-in-a-lifetime-opportunity.
We are in charge of turning the future of Africa around. Every single one of us. in our own humble way. And we shall start in those stable countries that are free of armed conflict and where one can do business, because the business environment is enabling and packed with so many opportunities that you don't even know which one to take on. The success will trickle down…..for generations to come….nationally, regionally, across the continent…and it will have a ripple effect on those countries that today seem far away from ever realising such opportunity.
Dear Africa Business Jumpstarters, I hope you did not mind my strong tone in the end, but this is precisely, why I do what I do and why I do it so passionatley. This is precisely, why we should stop chasing monthly wages when we can create African businesses or start investing in existing businesses on the continent to build real impact.
Not only will we be able to get rid of our own chains and limitations in life, become financially abundant and grow as a person alongside the business we build, leaving behind a legacy for our family….but at the same time we will be able to significantly contribute towards Africa's future and development.
LEAD – BY – every single one of US.
This is why – we have to continue to support each other.
Empower each other. Educate ourselves.
Why we should not see our ambitions as single incidents…
But a mass movement and effort. We are in it together.
With love for Africa.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your feedback and own view below.