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Do not despise your humble beginnings – young entrepreneurs urged

BY: Isaac Yeboah
Martin Kwabena Quaidoo Osei, Chief Executive Officer of Digicast Properties, and Office Bureau
Martin Kwabena Quaidoo Osei, Chief Executive Officer of Digicast Properties, and Office Bureau

The Chief Executive Officer of Digicast Properties, and Office Bureau, Martin Kwabena Quaidoo Osei has shared what he says are four principles to guide youthful entrepreneurs aiming to go far in their careers.

He says they must not despise their humble beginnings as it serves as their foundation and roots and determines how far they go as entrepreneurs. Again, they should focus on the process and not the results as it is the process that determines the consistency of the results. In addition, they must also seize every opportunity, and be kind to others and to themselves.

Martin Quaidoo Osei, an old student of Mfantsipim School, shared the insights as the Guest Speaker for the 144th Speech and Prize Day of Mfantsipim.

Explaining his submissions, he quoted the Bible in Proverbs 21:31 saying, “The horse is ready for the day of battle but victory belongs to the Lord”, urging his listeners to commit their ways to God so He directs their business path each day.

On the need to focus on the process and not the results, he said it is without doubt that the road will be tortuous, however they should have the strong desire and passion to succeed no matter the obstacles

“The pathway to greatness is often paved with pain and adversity. Be thankful for it. Out of that comes enduring success. The dogs will always bark along the rails but it doesn’t stop the trains. Remember your times and seasons. There’s a time to sow and a time to reap. Never let your sowing season pass you by. It is an essential ingredient in your success.”

“Third, seize every opportunity. Be reminded that the Chinese concept of crises is rendered as dangerous opportunities. The current pandemic has catapulted a whole new generation of youthful entrepreneurs who have used technology to advance solutions in the world of business. Young people of today are firmly taking their destinies into their own hands. This is a great trend that must be encouraged. Identify opportunities in government policies to keep your business afloat.

“Fellow Students, the Fourth Principle is that you should be kind to others and to your own self. Be a branch of a tree. Tree branches provide shade, succour and fruits to mankind. They are also habitat for birds. Provide for people when you excel thus touching the lives of the underprivileged. Note that no one is blessed unto himself alone. Your success should impact the lives of many. This is also an impetus of growth and prosperity.”

Below is Martin Quaidoo Osei's full address

GUEST SPEAKER’S SPEECH FOR THE 144TH ANNIVERSARY SPEECH AND PRIZE GIVING DAY

Theme: Dwen Hwe Kan; A Mantra for Creating Youthful Entrepreneurs in Our Digital World.

Date: Saturday, 14th November, 2020.

Mr. Chairman, Guest of Honour, Headmaster and Teachers, Sponsoring Year Groups, Fellow Old Boys, Students, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

I feel honoured to be chosen as the Guest Speaker for the 144th Speech and Prize Day of our unparalleled School, Mfantsipim.

We arrived here on Friday, the 13th September, 1985 as little boys thrown into the great unknown, to attend Mfantsipim, unarguably the greatest school ever established in Ghana. Little did I know that 35 years from that day, I, an innocent boy plucked from the police barracks in Takoradi would be given the singular honour to represent my mates at today’s momentous ceremony as the Guest Speaker. For this singular honour done me, I say, Moba 90, I will forever be grateful.

The theme for this year’s speech day, “Dwen Hwe Kan: A Mantra for Creating Youthful Entrepreneurs in Our Digital World” underscores how thoughtful and foresighted our forebears were in putting together such timeless creed, “Dwen Hwe Kan” for our beloved school.

When this theme was chosen from the many that were initially tabled, scarcely did we know this will speak profoundly to the emerging necessities confronting the world presently. It has become even more relevant as the entire world, Ghana not exempt, had to confront and deal with the Covid 19 pandemic.

Ladies and gentlemen, “Dwen Hwe Kan” which literally means “think and look ahead”, though appears simple, connotes transgenerational and deeper meanings. Mfantsipim School, through our timeless creed, trains us to be resilient, have mental fortitude and be Spiritually upright.

Mr. Chairman, I’m scarcely a scholar so I’ll try to be less academic but pragmatic in offering my take on some key words or concepts in this year’s theme. An entrepreneur is deemed to be a person who sets up a business, takes up the financial risk with the hope of providing solution to a social need and making some profits. The entrepreneur should go into business with the right attitude and motive, and the benefits will be to himself, society and the nation at large.

Without a doubt, we now find ourselves in the digital world which is powered by technology and innovation. Technology is regarded as that enabler in the business unit, holding everything together thus making things simpler, better and faster. Innovation involves the deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in delivering greater value from resources through the generation of new ideas. In business, innovation is the offspring produced when ideas are uniquely cross fertilized in satisfying customer needs and wants to generate profits.

Mr Chairman, while innovation and technology in our digital world empower you to stay relevant and keep you at the cutting edge, entrepreneurship takes you to the market place. This, dear ladies and gentlemen, epitomizes the true spirit of “Dwen Hwe Kan”. Permit me to quote from the scriptures to illustrate our “Dwen Hwe Kan” mantra. Proverbs 13:16 says, “A wise man thinks ahead, but a fool doesn’t and even brags about it”.

Now, how does the “Dwen Hwe Kan” mantra help in creating youthful entrepreneurs in our digital world? With your kind permission, Mr Chairman, I’ll seek to address it. I’ll give examples to help to illustrate my point.

Although Mfantsipim is well noted for being a science and arts school, it has produced some excellent entrepreneurs who have defined our generation. Mention is made of the likes of the late K Dom, an old Boy and a pioneer in the souvenir and branding business who set up K. Dom Company, Kwesi Twum, Moba 78, set up the first private radio station in Ghana, Joy Fm and owns Multimedia, Gaddy Laryea, our Special Guest of Honor and a Moba 70, an advertiser of international repute who was behind some ground breaking ad campaigns this country had ever seen, set up MMRS, Henry Osei, Moba 85, who incidentally is my big brother, started Kruger Brent Security in his garage at Achimota and today is rated as one of the top security companies in Ghana. Kofi Amoa-Abban, Moba 2001, of Rigworld, who this week was awarded the Oil and Gas Downstream Entrepreneur of the year, Samuel Edmund, Moba 88, partner in OMA GROUP, which won the bid to build and operate the FPSO J A Kufuor for ENI and Kweku Bediako, Moba 89, an astute entrepreneur who founded CHASE GROUP and Gold Key Properties, which is responsible for the magnificent Cantonments City being built at Cantonments, Accra.

For our engagement today, I would engage your attention on two individuals who have used technology to boost their businesses.

The first to talk about is Mr. Moses Baiden, Moba 83 and a lawyer by profession. Currently, he is described as a Digital Technology Entrepreneur and the CEO of Margins Group. He set up this company from his father’s house at Ringway Estate, Accra in 1990. His company started by producing ID cards for companies, and through hard work, dedication and perseverance, has grown the business to become the brain behind the National ID Card project being undertaken in the country. His Intelligent Card Production Systems is an ISO 9001-2015 certified secure document and manufacturing facility with a production capacity of over 200 million secure document and cards per year. It’s a purposely built facility for international certification such as ISO, Europay- MasterCard- Visa etc.

The second, Mr Ernest Bediako Sampong, is the founder and Chairman of the largest pharmaceutical company in Ghana, Ernest Chemist. An Adisadel Old Boy and a Pharmacist by profession, he learnt the basics of his trade by helping his father sell at his chemical shop in Accra. After completing KNUST, he opened his first shop at Kaneshie in 1986. Ernest Chemist now represents some of the worlds leading pharmaceutical brands and operates an extensive network of distribution channels throughout the country. In 2001, his company set up a multi million dollar pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Tema which has an annual production capacity of 80 million units of Capsules, 6 millions units of Liquids, 23 million units of Powder and guess what 500 million units of Tablets. The plant produces 150 different Pharmaceutical products for the Ghanaian and the West African markets.

The common thread running through these two great entrepreneurs is the “Dwen Hwe Kan” Mantra. It is the primary denominator that binds these astute businessmen and their achievements.

Distinguished Guests, It is the “Dwen Hwe Kan” attitude that separates these two entrepreneurs and their likes from their competitors. They become dynamic through this and are keen to spot and stay in tune with the next big thing. They are prepared and able to adapt, otherwise they become extinct from this digital world. Mr Chairman, the fact is either you evolve or die. When I ventured into the narrow path of entrepreneurship 20 years ago, my start-up cost was very high. I had to rent an office, have a fax machine, get a landline and many more. Technology had not advanced to the level we have today. However, today’s youthful entrepreneur doesn’t need all that.

Digitization has made it possible for the budding entrepreneur to start and operate his business virtually. Digitization has made the cost of doing business negligible and this should encourage young men to venture into the world of self-employment. It has changed the business landscape in all four corners of the world.

Youthful Entrepreneurs should tap into the government policy on youth employment and take advantage of the tax breaks that are available to them. Statistics shows that 30% of Ghanaian businesses collapse after the first year and a further 20% fold up in the third year.

Mr Chairman, this shows that even in this digital world, as many businesses collapse as they are set up. As a young entrepreneur, you have to decide and refuse to be part of the failed business statistics. Choose to become a chapter in the narrative of success stories. Setbacks are part of the general pattern of transition to growth and development. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”

Steve Jobs who created the Apple empire puts it this way “stay hungry, stay foolish”. I will say be hungry for success for the right reasons. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. They will make you shine. Don’t envy their talent, rather be appreciative. This Digital world will be for those entrepreneurs who are passionate, persevere, constantly innovating, and prepared to run faster than the competition. One of my favourite quotes from Rev Martin Luther King is “if you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving forward”. The growth of digital entrepreneurs has led to improved business intelligence, inventions of new methods and technology. This means that talent is not enough to build a good business.

Application of technology and innovation is a crucial catalyst in today’s world. Mr Chairman, I have said earlier that one has to go into entrepreneurship with the right reasons and the right motives, the reasons and motives have to be pleasing to humanity, your community and God. Remember it takes a village to raise a child and any venture that does not have humanity at heart is not worth pursuing.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Old Boys, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to share few principles that should guide the youthful entrepreneur in this digital world.

First, do not despise your humble beginnings. That is your foundation and your roots. How far you go as an entrepreneur depends on how deep and embedded your roots are. The Bible says in Proverbs 21:31 and I quote, “The horse is ready for the day of battle but victory belongs to the Lord”. The “Dwen Hwe Kan” mantra is rooted in the word of God, the umbilical cord of Mfantsipim. Commit your ways to Him and he will direct your business path each day.

Second, it is obvious that the road will be tortuous. Focus on the process and not the results. It is the process that determines the consistency of the results. At all times, have the strong desire and passion to succeed no matter the obstacles. The pathway to greatness is often paved with pain and adversity. Be thankful for it. Out of that comes enduring success. The dogs will always bark along the rails but it doesn’t stop the trains. Remember your times and seasons. There’s a time to sow and a time to reap. Never let your sowing season pass you by. It is an essential ingredient in your success.

Third, seize every opportunity. Be reminded that the Chinese concept of crises is rendered as dangerous opportunities. The current pandemic has catapulted a whole new generation of youthful entrepreneurs who have used technology to advance solutions in the world of business. Young people of today are firmly taking their destinies into their own hands. This is a great trend that must be encouraged. Identify opportunities in government policies to keep your business afloat.

Fellow Students, the Fourth Principle is that you should be kind to others and to your own self. Be a branch of a tree. Tree branches provide shade, succour and fruits to mankind. They are also habitat for birds. Provide for people when you excel thus touching the lives of the underprivileged. Note that no one is blessed unto himself alone. Your success should impact the lives of many. This is also an impetus of growth and prosperity.

Mr. Chairman, Guest of Honour, Headmaster and Teachers, Sponsoring Year Groups, Fellow Old Boys, Associated Alumni, Students, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. As I draw the curtain on the discussion of our theme, I wish to thank you for the audience. I pray that from the top of the Kwabotwe Hills, your entrepreneurial light shall so shine unto the world that it may be a great testament to our time-tested creed, “Dwen Hwe Kan”.

God bless our great and beloved school, Mfantsipim and continue to churn out great entrepreneurs who will provide solutions to the needs of humanity and impact meaningfully on every successive generation.

God bless Mfantsipim and make it great and strong. God bless us all and God bless our homeland, Ghana.

Thank you.