“In the water supply sector, we want to be known as the best in groundwater engineering in Africa,” says Vincent Amewornu, Founder and CEO of Enacent Agency Limited. The business started in 1982 as a sole proprietorship and undertook printing and general supplies of equipment to the construction industry.
Amewornu worked as secretary to the Tender Committee of the Ghana Food Distribution Corporation. While there, he realized that the best way to improve his financial fortunes was to venture into entrepreneurship. That realization served as the springboard for his personal pursuit of business. He was optimistic that the ride would be smooth, but the reality was tough.
In 1997, he incorporated Enacent as a limited company and revised his business by phasing out of stationery supplies and equipment supplies, venturing into a new area of water engineering. Although this too was challenging, Amewornu was able to grow beyond the building of culverts and drains, to being able to construct dams and all kinds of irrigation and treatment plants. Competing with existing and relatively well-known construction firms proved a huge hurdle to overcome. Nonetheless, he prevailed eventually with some financial support from the banks.
The pursuit of higher heights
In 2016, Amewornu heard about Invest in Africa (IIA) and the Business Linkage Programme (BLP). IIA is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving Ghanaian SMEs’ access to skills, contracts and finance to build long-term capacity. Through the BLP, Invest in Africa is able to offer coaching and mentorship interventions that assist SMEs to scale up and become globally competitive. The African Development Bank provides funding for the BLP through its Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA).
So, in pursuit of what he refers to as “higher heights,” Mr. Amewornu signed up for the BLP. He thought that since Invest in Africa grooms “local businesses to achieve higher targets,” the BLP would be beneficial to him and his business. For him, securing contracts from multinational organizations was “very difficult.”
Support from Invest in Africa
He and other participants received training in so many aspects of business. According to him, they learnt about how to prepare tenders professionally and what to do if one feels they have been unfairly eased out of a bidding process. He also found the sessions on how to structure and establishing partnerships very relevant.
“Since receiving the training, we have seen that the business has improved,” Amewornu testifies. “We have been able to bid and win two major tenders. Things are now better than when I was on my own,” he says. He reveals that their bid success rate and revenue have improved by 50%. Notably, they have won substantial contracts from the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. He reveals that although he employs a total of ten people on full time basis, he had to recruit forty (40) additional team members with various levels of expertise to execute the contracts for the two international organizations. He attributes these major wins to his participation in Invest in Africa’s BLP.
He looks forward to leveraging other opportunities offered by Invest in Africa; in particular their SME financing opportunity through their partner banks – Ecobank, GCB and Barclays Ghana. As they plan to procure new and more advanced water engineering equipment, they are hopeful that this network and the set of skills offered by Invest in Africa will be very helpful.