The Executive Chairman and Group Managing Director of Kinapharma and Healthilife, Mr Kofi Nsiah-Poku, has urged local industrialists to think outside the box in order to survive and thrive.
Mr Nsiah-Poku, who recently won EY Emerging Enterprenuer of the Year for West Africa, told the Daily Graphic that local businesses must be innovative by taking a second look at their operations and constantly undertaking a review.
“What one has to do is to be very innovative. You must keep innovating to make sure that you survive and always stay ahead. The competition is always following and you must make some margins to aid you survive,” the Pharmacist cum entrepreneur said in an exclusive interview.
He said Kinapharma had to innovate with some of its products, citing APC and Kwik Action as successful examples.
Mr Nsiah-Poku explained, “we also looked at what the customers needed because we needed to satisfy the consumers. For Kwik Action, when we started, nearly all cold preparations available made you drowsy. that means when you took it you were not supposed to drive, go to the farm or do any serious work.”
Realising the common ailment needed a much better solution, the company worked tirelessly to remove the ingredients that caused the drowsiness and introduced other ingredients with the same effect without affecting efficacy.
“We did not copy what others were doing, but we tried to remove the bottlenecks in the original version, substituted them with something else that would be good for everybody. Though people have cold, they need to work, because they don’t want to be out of work,” he explained.
Fortunately, Kwik Action is in high demand with millions of tablets produced every month.
Regarding the local manufacturing environment, he said gradually it was increasing the cost of doing business in the country.
He called on state institutions to do more to improve the business environment by stabilising the macroeconomic environment to allow businesses to thrive, saying impediments to business were becoming too many and disincentives to private sector investments.
“I must say the cost of doing business is extremely high. With regard to interest rates, we took a loan to support our own equity when we started Healthilife. At that time the interest rate was 16 per cent, and we thought it was going to come down at some point, but today it is about 30 per cent.
“Regarding electricity supply to the factory, we were paying GH¢130,000 per month only about four months ago. In February, it has gone up to GH¢279,000.”
“This has come from an average monthly bill of GH¢40,000 only 12 months ago. So you can see that slowly things are getting out of hand, and we are competing with companies from other parts of the world, and that makes it really difficult.”
“When others come in with cheaper costs and they come to compete with us, it becomes difficult. Unfortunately in our environment the only thing a manufacturer cannot increase often is the final consumer price because of low purchasing power. So manufacturers are truly disadvantaged here, taking into consideration the fact that we can provide the most jobs to people as well.”
Mr Nsiah-Poku said despite the challenges he was determined to increase the size of Kinapharma’s balance sheet from the present US$25 milion to US$80 million by 2020.