What comes to mind when you think of an Entrepreneur? You may think of a decision maker, a risk taker, or a leader amongst other things. But what comes to mind when you think of the Ghanaian entrepreneur? The Ghanaian entrepreneur, who dedicated a great amount of their time to building a reputable organisation from virtually nothing. The Creator. The Founder. The Visionary.
As Ghanaians, we must appreciate the business environment we find ourselves in, and the not so favourable economic conditions one must plough through to start and sustain a successful business in Ghana. We must also appreciate the stories to be told by these pillars of success that can now serve as guidance and inspiration for generations to come. We must allow these success stories to write new stories of success.
The decision to embark on a journey of success involves risk taking and decision making in various contexts. Stratcomm Africa is familiar with this journey of success and we invite you to travel and explore with us. Sit tight. Buckle up. Let the journey begin, as our Ghanaian CEOs now tell their stories. The many roads of perseverance, hard work, humility, and determination will be travelled, and all these roads lead to success!
- Whenever Kofi Dadzie, CEO of Rancard told his mother at the end of the school term that he had come first, she would respond “why weren’t you half?” Kofi explains that his mother meant well by consistently asking him this impossible rhetorical question. The question was indicative of the high standards of achievement in his home. Indeed, Kofi’s parents did not expect anything less than first, so attaining that position was “no big deal.” Kofi credits this early exposure to high standards with teaching him how to win and more importantly, how to overcome adversity when you don’t win.
It’s this attitude that enabled him to change course majors in college more than midway through his college education, overcome getting fired from an internship, and having a Whirlpool factory build a prototype of his design as a first year intern. The summation of this attitude and experiences enabled Kofi to co-found Rancard Solutions, a mobile software service discovery and delivery platform with clients like MTV (Music Television), BBC (The British Broadcasting Corporation), ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network), Google, amongst others on major networks in Africa, Europe and the Middle East .
Kofi has not always been technologically inclined. In fact, he is more inclined towards arts and interested in law. Although he was an excellent all-round primary school student, he was stronger in English and Geography than in Mathematics and Science. It’s his academic experiences in junior high school and again in college that put him on the technology track. Studying technical skills and technical drawing in junior high school opened him up to engineering (with an initial interest in automotive and mechanical engineering), and after academic counseling in college, a further refinement of his interests towards computer science and engineering. He was at that moment, placed on the path to co-founding Rancard Solutions with Ehizogie Binitie, his classmate from senior high school.
Although he co-founded a successful business, Kofi admits that he is not “one of those natural entrepreneurs that like to form multiple businesses”. In fact some of the reasons that led to his co-founding Rancard were purely practical and in some cases philosophical. Upon a visit to the career services office of his alma mater, Kofi faced a rejection to his offer of software development services, but this time it was accompanied with an explanation unlike some previous rejection experiences. The career services center made it clear to him that if they acquired a software application, they would also require continuing support services that an individual could not be trusted to persist in the way a company would be expected to. It was then that Kofi realized that one’s personal skill is not enough to secure clients, it was also important to be backed by a company. His other reason for co-founding Rancard is much more philosophical which is aptly captured in this phrase “I like to make things grow and I like to see them grow in their most excellent form.” It’s this philosophy that drives Rancard’s vision of becoming a truly world-class technological company out of Africa that competes with its global competition.
His parents’ high standards of achievement have proven invaluable in his professional life, but his internship experience with Whirlpool and brief stint with Dell cannot be discounted as he describes these as . “almost spiritual” moments. One of these experiences happened whilst he was interning as a first year Mechanical Engineering student at a Whirlpool factory that built room air-conditioning units. There was a junction on the assembly line which had a bracket that had been fixed to hold this junction in the line. However the bracket had been custom built and similar brackets were required for other junctions. It was therefore necessary to make a design sketch to the existing bracket for reproduction at a machine shop in the factory. Kofi’s task was to produce a design of the bracket by taking measurements of it from its installed position at the assembly line junction. His first thought when he had climbed a ladder to reach the junction was “how do I measure this? You can’t put a ruler on it, and you can’t put a triangle on it” (the bracket had the shape of a French curve). He was stumped. Then it came to him. “Sine rule.” “Sine rule?!” Although Kofi did not truly understand much of what he’d learnt in trigonometry, he recognized that, by seeing the bracket (which had the form of a French curve) as a part of the circumference of many interconnected circles, he could approximate the diameter of each circle using the sine rule and then go back and produce a design of the part. Kofi describes this experience as having been phenomenal, as he was able to connect something that he had learned about seven years earlier, and had no perception of its practical use at the time, but was able to apply it to a challenging task that he faced at his first internship. What made this experience even more incredible was the fact that Whirlpool adopted the bracket prototype that he eventually designed using the sine rule.
However Kofi’s further internship experiences did not begin as successfully as the one at Whirlpool did. At one point during a computer engineering internship, at a time when Kofi had just switched his major to this field, he was laid off. However he was re-hired almost instantly as he produced the result of a breakthrough he had just had with his software code from a long, hard, tireless night of labor. By achieving this breakthrough, Kofi had gone above and beyond his call of duty, and his employer had no choice but to hastily retract Kofi’s dismissal. Surprisingly, Kofi reports that he had remained calm when he was given the axe. He attributes this calmness to his belief that God has a purpose for him.
Kofi’s path to success is a unique and interesting journey. His challenges served as building blocks towards the entity which is today Rancard. Although Kofi believed his destiny was set in a certain direction, life and the good Lord manipulated his experiences to work together for good. It is important to recognize that even in the face of adversity, compromise was never an option. Kofi approached every situation with a fullness of zeal, commitment to work and a blazing desire to succeed. Today as CEO of Rancard, in developing a culture of excellence and integrity in the organization without compromise, Kofi is sticking with his faith in God that led him to previous breakthroughs in his career. Rancard, which employs about 80 people in Accra and Lagos with plans for continued geographic and market expansion, is getting closer to a fulfillment of his purpose of building a world class organization by Africans and in Africa.