One of the continent’s celebrated entrepreneurs, Roland Agambire has played down perceptions that his monumental success has been due to luck.
He told the American business magazine, Forbes, he would rather attribute his modest progress to hard work and smart thinking.
“I am a born entrepreneur, and that is what I have done all my life …..I do not believe that luck exists. Poverty is a perception, our condition is a perception. It is only the mind that changes the human being. Only hard work and smart thinking is what will make you what you want to be. Africans need to take charge and take control of their destinies”, he remarked.
The magazine’s reporter, Muyiwa Moyela had sought Agambire’s reaction to some business and public affairs commentaries to the effect that his wealth and rise to prominence in Ghana’s business circle and even beyond is due to government patronage, but he dismisses this.
“Of course, like any other business we will compete for government business when the opportunities arise, but government accounts for less than 20% of our business,” he told Forbes Africa.
For a man whose early years were spent in poverty, Agambire’s current cozy lifestyle is a far cry from his humble beginnings. He shies away from any reference to his personal net worth. He, however, tells Forbes Africa that through AGAMS Holdings, he employs more than 500 permanent staff and 10,000 casual workers with an annual turnover of about $2 billion.” AGAMS Holdings has interests in oil, construction, computing and telecommunications, financial services and trading.
His story proves it is possible to be lonely in the middle of a crowd.
Born in Sirigu, a farming community in northern Ghana, his father reportedly had about 50 children and his mother is the sixth of his father’s 10 wives.
For most of the seventies and eighties, Ghana’s economy was in the doldrums and village life was all about subsistence farming, fishing and survival of the fittest. Success was defined by the number of wives and children a man could muster. Agambire recalls how 10 people would sleep on the same mat, like prisoners in a crowded jail, wake up in the morning and eat from the same bowl. He says his success came from this start in life.
“At that time, going to school was a struggle, all they wanted you to do was to grow into a shepherd boy, to be part of the domestic services, but I broke out of that.” By the age of six, his survival instincts led him to picking up coins dropped by much older folks, drunk on liquor, in the open air drinking holes in the market.
“I was going from one pito bar to the other to pick up money. This was how I made money to feed myself,” he says.
One day, his granddad accused him of pilfering. He told the old man that revelers obviously had too much money to spare. Why else would they throw it away every day and who would be identified as the owner of the money if he were to take the ‘lost and found coins’ to the village chief?
The old man had no reply. Soon, a few older folks noticed and joined him in the coin gathering exercise, so he changed tactic by going earlier to pick the pennies.
Soon, Roland the teenager was selling kuli-kuli (a local snack made from peanuts) and ferrying much sought after cigarettes, kerosene and petrol across the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Agambire worked his way through the Navrongo Secondary School. He would often travel down south to Accra, during vacations, to push trucks and wash dishes in bars to make money to pay his school fees.
By the mid-1990s, his trading activities had expanded and he had dabbled into cash crops exportation. He completed various courses in export and marketing with the Ghana Export Promotion Council, put himself through a regime of Business Administration courses at the Ghana
Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
A trip to Japan in 1999 opened his mind to the social impact and business potential of ICT. In 2000, he invested his first $200,000 into an internet café business in Accra; the dotcom age arrived and soon he was importing computers from the United States, and providing after sales support and computer networking services to Ghanaian businesses. He never looked back since.
The Ghana News Agency once described Agambire as “a personification of determination”. Having conquered poverty, he now wants to put West Africa’s second largest economy on to the global technology map, permanently. Not bad for someone who used to pick coins.
Rlg Communications Group is one of several ICT firms helping to provide PCs to students, as part of a government sponsored scheme. “We are focused on the consumer market side of things because that is where growth will come from. Ghanaians are fast adapters of change and I can see so much growth still coming for Ghana in the technology area.”
“What I would rather like to emphasize is the fact that the economy is being managed well, especially from the policy perspective. There is a deliberate plan for computerization by government. When you see public schools and students beginning to receive free computers, then you can see that these policies are transforming society for good.”
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|