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Entrepreneurs Leverage ICT, Product Diversification To Increase Sales

Some Ghanaian entrepreneurs are leveraging information, communication, and technology (ICT) to diversify their products to improve sales post COVID-19. They said the use of ICT had helped them to expand their horizons and to diversify their businesses.

In an interview with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hillbil Company Limited, producers and manufacturers of Ghana made shoes and belts, Mr. Bright Aferi said he had now diversified to also produce caps, branded t-shirts, and ankle-high shoes, among others, to be able to recover from the effect of COVID-19.

“I introduced these new products to help my company rise from the loss and to make more sales. I mostly use ICT for administrative purposes, like bookkeeping, sales, and marketing and to reach out to existing and new customers on a large scale,” he said.

He elaborated that unlike the traditional way of engaging clients, he was leveraging ICT to reach out to a large number of clients over a limited period.

“Now we are able to operate from our office and reach out to our customers beyond the borders of Ghana without much stress. We are also able to keep records of transactions and customer details for future reference when the need arises,” he elaborated.

Challenges

Mr. Aferi said although resorting to ICT use had improved productivity, it was expensive.

He said the restrictions imposed on movements during the outbreak of Covid-19 affected their businesses adversely because their works required outdoor display and showcase of products.

“Our sales actually declined by about 25 percent but somehow with the help of ICT, we were able to market our products to make some sale. Online marketing has opened our eyes to diversify our products to be able to meet customers’ demands,” he said.

Another entrepreneur, the CEO of Ignite Group of Companies, Mr. Jeffrey Osei Bonsu, also shared his experience and said the Covid-19 outbreak had been a hard time in the company’s operation.

However, it left them to think through to leverage ICT to expand sales globally.

“During and post-COVID ICT helped us to connect to off-takers through e-commerce. We have been able to generate traffic and seek off-takers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Burkina for products such as shea butter, chili pepper, and coconut,” he said.

Mr. Bonsu added, “ICT through e-commerce has impacted our business positively to stay competitive, expand globally, reach out to people on a large scale, lowered cost on advertising and provided better targeting,” he emphasized.


Tech support

Eventually, Mr. Aferi said together with others they received some funds to boost their businesses through an accelerator program for entrepreneurs.

According to Mr. Bonsu, the Covid-19 pandemic had changed a lot in the way of life and work ethics.
Therefore, “focusing on the next phase, we should continue to use technology more often to be able to augment business and ensure productivity,” he added.


Banking sector

Sharing experiences from the banking sector, the Head of Operations, SIC Life Savings and Loans, Mr. Theophilus Lamptey, said that now ICT has made banking easier because banking software had been designed in a way that the inputter had to make one entry into the system, and another face of the transaction was automatically generated into the appropriate general ledger account.

He said other activities such as a coalition of bank transactions into account reports and managing reports had been made simple, with ICT.

“Hitherto, circulars and processes were typed on paper and delivered by post to other branches and departments. But now with just a click on a button, through emails, all branches and departments can be advised with an instruction without having to use the postal system,” he stressed.

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