Ghana: Entrepreneur grows electronics business to 16 stores within a decade
Kab-Fam Ghana specialises in the retail of electronics and home appliances. The company is currently working on opening its 16th store with a target to increase its market share to at least 50%. Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi asked the founder and chief executive officer, Charles Antwi-Boahen, about how he built the business and utilised opportunities in online marketing.
Tell us how the idea of Kab-Fam came about.
I didn’t plan to open a retail business initially. I had worked as a salesman in a central air-conditioning system retail company, which is now defunct. The company sold only central units but people kept requesting split unit air conditioners. I identified a need and went to Electroland – a distributor of electronic brands in Ghana – to see what it could offer. I saw the margins on its products and realised we could do business. I would refer buyers to Electroland and was paid a commission. The founder recognised the potential and gave me US$60,000 to start my own retail business.
What were the early days of Kab-Fam like?
In the beginning, people didn’t know the company. We had to make so much noise to encourage buyers. Online marketing was, and still is, a big part of our growth. I advertised on Google Trader back in 2012 for the company I worked for. When I started out on my own, I continued to post on Google Trader and people would call me. I didn’t have a showroom. I would source supplies from Electroland where I had already created an account and was paid from the margin. This continued for some time with a decent turnover before I registered Kab-Fam in 2013.
In 2014, I rented my first shop from the $60,000 I got as a soft loan, which I paid off over five years. The following year, a power crisis in Ghana set us back. People were not buying and the business went down drastically.
In 2016, we bounced back and opened a new branch in Kumasi. We expanded to 10 additional locations within five years by reinvesting our profit.
We have opened four new stores this year and are working on the fifth, bringing the number to 16.
Apart from the $60,000 from your supplier, where else did you receive funding?
It was just the $60,000 I got from my supplier; I have never taken a loan from any bank. I am wary of loans, so am very disciplined with money. I have studied many big companies doing well, and I discovered that they are very prudent with money and reinvest. That is what I do.
From where do you source your products?
I still work with Electroland as the company’s sole supplier. When we opened our business, Electroland was still growing. Today, it controls about 50% of Ghana’s electronics and home appliances market. Kab-Fam is their number one retail partner.
Some manufacturers have approached me directly but what the local supplier is giving us is way better. I value relationships. Unless someone is bringing in something different, there is no need to look elsewhere for now.
Share some of the challenges you have faced in building Kab-Fam.
The major hurdle I face – much like other businesses in Ghana – is human resources. I have to watch everybody and it is not easy because people run the systems. That has been my biggest challenge as an executive. The company now has stringent systems in place to mitigate losses.
Explain how the company attracts and retains customers.
I don’t play around with marketing; especially online and social media. We also do TV, radio and billboards. I am a marketer and that is our strategy. On Facebook, our page has over 800,000 likes and we are also strong on Instagram. My success has been from online marketing. It is where I started and where we continue to thrive.
So, I don’t see anyone as a threat when it comes to competition. I believe we are on the right track; we have to continue engaging in marketing and opening as many branches as possible. Every branch is like a new company with revenue, so the more the better. We now have about 10% market share with over 90 employees.
What changes are you seeing in Ghana’s retail industry?
E-commerce is the new crude oil. As much as customers want to come to the shop to buy, most want to do it online and have goods delivered.
As I mentioned, online marketing is very important. We are where we are now because of that; any retail business that wants to do well cannot make it without marketing its products on social media. People see the products, businesses or services online, which is the best way to reach out to customers and it has worked magically for Kab-Fam.
Consumer tastes evolve with the times; they know everything thanks to the influence of the internet. In terms of electronics, things change just like every other aspect of technology. We try to go with the trends, the business can’t be stagnant.
Where does Kab-Fam go from here?
Ghana is big, and we are not done with it yet. I will not rush into anything. I try to exhaust what is available before considering other options.
We have not yet captured 50% of the market, so we shouldn’t be looking outside. Once we have 30 to 40 shops, we may consider expanding into other countries. Right now, our focus is on opening as many branches as possible in Ghana.
Kab-Fam Ghana founder and CEO Charles Antwi-Boahen’s contact information
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