Corporate Events Planning in Ghana: Ramel International

“Ramel has grown tremendously over the last couple of years. We are privileged to have been ranked very high the last few years in the Ghana Club 100. We have been number one in the services industry for the last three years running.”

Interview with Amartey Nuno-Amarteifio, CEO of Ramel International Group

Amartey Nuno-Amarteifio, CEO of Ramel International Group

You were named the king of Ghana Club 100. Your company grew 1,000 percent in three years. What is the idea behind Ramel services and to what do you attribute the company’s success?

Ramel has grown tremendously over the last couple of years. It was actually formed by my late mother about twenty-five years ago. I took over about six years ago when she passed away. I flew in from the United States, came back to Ghana, and took over the company. Now, we have managed to grow the company exponentially over the last couple of years. We have specialized into airline ticketing, staffing services, conference services, equipment rental, as well as tour and car rental services. We have tried to be a jack of all trades, but at the same time specialized in those five areas. What did we do to achieve such huge success? It all boils down to our staff. We have a very loyal group of people who have worked with us for many years. We have nurtured them, taken care of them, and paid them well, and they have produced results. That is why we are privileged to have been ranked very high the last few years in the Ghana Club 100. We have been number one in the services industry for the last three years running. We are very happy about that.

You are involved in conferences and event organization, travel and tourism, and you even have an online flight application. Which are your priority areas that you would like to push at the moment?

We are trying to push the conferencing aspect of the business. In attracting FDI and multinationals to Ghana, when companies come here, they want to host conferences because they want the message to get out there of who they are, what they are doing, who they are sponsoring, and who they are related to. That space is very important if we want to achieve market share. We want to grow that space and business so we can become the number one conference and event organizer in the country. There are a lot of different types of events, but we focus on corporate events. It is very specific and there is an aim to it. Once we are able to achieve that aim, we have a happy client.

We have a very loyal group of people who have worked with us for many years. We have nurtured them, taken care of them, and paid them well, and they have produced results. That is why we are privileged to have been ranked very high the last few years in the Ghana Club 100.

Your father has told us that back in the years when there were wars going on in the region and Accra was a safe haven, you were very good at conferencing. This was actually at the start of your business and continues into today.
Accra was the hub for conferencing at one point. We would do a conference every two weeks. With technology, that has changed because people are now doing conference calls and finding innovative ways to host conferencing at a much cheaper cost. There is still the need to provide excellent service. For example, the World Bank, the European Union, and the United Nations must have conferences because that is where they talk about issues. How relevant is Ramel today to make sure that we can capitalize on that market? That is something that we are trying to achieve.

Who are your clients in this segment?

We do a lot of work with the UN, the World Bank, and the EU. We work with embassies such as the French Embassy and the American Embassy, as well as NGOs such as Care International and GTZ. We work with the government through the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy. In the private sector, we work with individuals such as Ghana Gas and GNPC. We have a myriad of different groups that we have worked with. If we can continue to provide excellent service, the sky is the limit.

What is the status of your travel segment?

Travel is picking up tremendously. Ghana is an emerging economy so there is a huge middle class who all want to travel. Ramel fits into that space by providing good quality service. It is not necessarily about price alone. Not only are we helping with the airline ticketing, but we are providing solutions from hotel accommodation to visa acquisition. As a company, we are looking to integrate ourselves into those areas so we can provide a truly end to end solution for our clients. We are also looking at equipment rental. We have very high-end equipment rental for our clients. For example, we have interpretation equipment from French to English and English to French. These things give us a competitive advantage because our competitors need to come rent from us because they do not have these services themselves. It is another revenue driver. As long as we can hit on all those services and do a good job, we are looking forward to another year of good things.

Where do you see yourself two years from now? What are your targets?

We want to grow online. We have seen a huge pickup with our online application. Now, people shop for fares, they do not just call a traditional agency. In Europe, you do everything online at Kayak or Expedia or Travelocity. Ghanaians are also getting used to that medium of actually looking up fares and trying to book their tickets online. We are going to spend a lot of money on technology to make sure that we are ahead of the game. We will also spend a lot of money in building capacity within our organization to make sure that in two or three years, we are not redundant in what we do, but we are still staying ahead of the curve. Even when we talk about conferencing now, a lot of companies are no longer doing the traditional avenue of bringing in 50 people from 50 different countries. They simply have their meetings online. But, you need to have very good broadband and very good quality equipment to be able to tap into all the different satellites that are needed to engineer this.

What is the name of the airline application?

What kind of awards have you received apart from your ranking in the Ghana Club 100?

We have received the Entrepreneur’s Award for being the number one entrepreneur in the country. That was a great award. I have received awards from the Ghana Investment Promotion Center, GIPC, for not only the Ghana Club 100 but also in the services industry. We have received international awards, also. We have received awards from Italy and France from companies that look out for emerging companies like myself in this country and give us awards for doing a good job. We have not done too badly.

When it comes to you as a businessman and an entrepreneur, what kind of legacy are you trying to build?

I am still quite young. I am trying to build an institution that will outlast me. Traditionally, there are a lot of good Ghanaian companies. However, the head of the company is the de facto CEO. If anything were to happen to the CEO, there goes the company. So, my main goal is to build corporate governance and a solid institution that can outlive and outlast me.

Are you looking for partnerships on the financial or technical side?

We are definitely looking in the financial side. The cost of crediting in Ghana is very expensive. We are hitting 31 to 32 percent on the traditional side. If you go outside the traditional borrowing, it is 45 to 50 percent. This means that you have to be very creative in how you engineer or make money in this country because frankly speaking, the loan rates are ridiculous. Therein lies an opportunity for us to start looking outside for partners that can partner with young, emerging companies like myself in this country. They can help us to grow, they can bring the skill set, they can bring financing, and they can bring capacity in terms of human resources. Because, at the end of the day, it is truly the people who make things happen. But sometimes, we might not necessarily have the skill set to achieve the vision that we are looking to achieve. If you have the right partnerships, then it becomes easier to grow and expand your company as you see fit.

Is this human capacity in the event organizing field?

Not necessarily in the event organizing field. In terms of human capacity, even in the online space for travel agencies, it is a very specific skill set. You need to have online engineers or people who have an IT background. Sometimes, it is a bit difficult to find those types of people here. For example, when I was building Kuruka, I had to build it in America. I could not build it in Ghana because we did everything from scratch. You have to build code and we just do not have that skill set here. So, we were paying developers in the US to develop applications for us to use on our website. We have no relevant payment gateways here so we had to use PayPal which is an American company, that way people could use a Mastercard or Visa card. We are also facing challenges with the differences of applications in terms of even customer service. For example, if somebody in the US booked an online ticket with us and they were to call a number, they do not want to call a local +233 number, they want to call a 1-800 number. So, you have to figure out a way to route it such that, ultimately, the call ends up in Ghana and you can still give good customer service, but whoever is on the back end or the front end is still seeing an international number. Those things require skill sets which we do not have here, so we end up spending a lot of money to procure services outside.

Is there a message you would like to send about Ghana?

Ghana is a great place to work and to invest. It is a great country. It is a peaceful country. There is a lot of opportunity here. Entrepreneurs have the ability to win easily. I would encourage everybody to look at Ghana as an investment opportunity. We have natural resources and we have many different areas which companies can enter through partnerships with people like me and other successful businessmen and women. The sky is the limit.


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