Seedway Services: Software and IT Industry in Ghana

Romaric Ababio Dankwa gives his assessment on the software and IT industry in Ghana and presents his company, Seedway Services. He also talks about the different IT solutions they provide and shares his vision for the future of Seedway.

Interview with Romaric Ababio Dankwa, CEO of Seedway Services

Seedway Services

Let´s begin by talking about the IT sector particularly in the market where you are. Can you give us your assessment of the software and IT industry here in Ghana?

The more we grow, the more we need competent staff and better equipment and infrastructure. What we are looking for is some good FDI. We would like to have some good foreign direct investment in a few projects.

The IT and software industry in Ghana is growing fast, very fast. However a huge gap remains between the big companies and the micro businesses which indeed represent over 70% of the business landscape. Micro businesses in Ghana represent an important economic segment and it is an important factor in our economy. They are major contributors to job growth and form a huge block of the total outstanding business community and tax base. Today in Ghana, micro businesses face major challenges in order to flourish and survive: capital or finance, technological advances, adoption of e-commerce or the internet advantage, outsourcing when available.

For instance, a woman running a small shop or restaurant will not be able to have in-house IT, payroll or HR staff. Outsourcing these vital services and needs are important for our micro businesses to be able to compete, lower their business risks and do so without the expensive non-levered internal staff. At Seedway Services Ltd, our focus is to provide software solutions that save micro businesses money while reducing their risk. For as little as $30 per month, we deliver capabilities such as human resource software modules, outsourcing payroll, which are quite attractive to a micro business owner who may otherwise hire a PEO or internal HR person.

Have you developed this technology yourselves or have you partnered with other companies?

Development in Ghana is very expensive for a small company like ours. With local expertise it is difficult to reach international standards and the development cycle is long, therefore expensive for a small company. We live in a global village. We understand we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. We are always looking for ways to serve our customers better, faster, at the lowest possible price. We did develop a few products in the past; today we have technology partners who handle all our development needs. This enables us to focus on delivering quality services and increasing customer satisfaction.

Seedway Services

When did you start the company?

We had very humble beginnings. In 2007, I quit my job. I had no savings, no offices and no connections. I was hungry. All I had was a dream. I started working from my living room. I did all my typing, accounting, PR, marketing and so on. I was a one man company, you see what I mean. Finally, the company was registered in July 2009.

What has changed since then? You mentioned that you have changed the type of products that you are offering.

Yes, that´s right. This has come as a breakthrough, a real eye opener. We had a change of corporate strategy. In terms of applications, our initial focus was to sell large software applications to big companies and governments. At that level the competition is fierce and in order to survive we had to re-think our business model very carefully. I believe our take-off point was when we realized that small business is big business. Most importantly we realized that all the micro businesses have tight budgets. Therefore we provide software solutions designed with free trial month (Seed Payroll, Cloud Computing Services), programs with no set up fees (SeedPay and RomyPay Mobile), and programs that offer website software and setup.

I believe the Internet is the only great equalizer for micro business in Ghana. How in the world can a micro business compete today with capital shortages and an environment that is friendly only to big business? Our software solutions come with a set of internet tools that can take a micro business higher by building web presence, web traffic, web security and maximizing client experience, reach and payment flow.

Recently we have deployed our efforts in the provision of products and services in the technology enabled learning, collaboration, videoconferencing and communication space. A technological marvel developed through years of R&D by a core team of our international software experts that is set to revolutionize the whole concept of videoconferencing and collaborative classrooms on a global scale.

In terms of coverage, you are based in the Accra region, are you starting to expand to other cities?

IT services Ghana

Currently we are working in Accra and its surrounding areas including Tema. In the near future, we hope to be in Kumasi and Takoradi. Expansion has its own challenges. For a small business like ours there are huge opportunities but funding can be a problem.

Would the major cost for you be to acquire more sales representatives or is it the software development itself?

Currently we focus on distribution, implementation and after sales service. We do not compromise with the quality of our sales representatives. We recruit, train and keep only the best. However in order to ensure customer satisfaction we keep a technical team.

The more we grow, the more we need competent staff and better equipment and infrastructure. What we are looking for is some good FDI. We would like to have some good foreign direct investment in a few projects.

Have you tried to approach international investors directly?

We had a few contacts. In terms of FDI, I see a huge potential for partnerships in investing in some of our projects. However, I think our input should be taken with more appreciation. We understand how things work here. To succeed you need to be flexible, fast and focus. Huge control mechanism, coupled with excessive procedures will rather cripple a small company in our environment.

What do you mean by a control mechanism? Are you talking about the investor controlling what is going on and demanding reports of progress and development?

Yes. Furthermore, what I mean is that there is also an issue of cost, these controls are not free and can sometimes be expensive. There are issues that are not directly related to profitability, and often drastically reduce the speed of execution within the organization.

Ghana IT sector

Do you have competitors here offering the same services as you?

Yes. I think competition is good for the economy and in every field today, you will have competition. Our markets are virgin, the demand is huge, it’s over 25 million people, and I do not believe that just one company can satisfy everybody. Rather I see the competitors complement each other.

What are your dreams for the company over the next 5 years, what do you aim to achieve?

Be a force for social good and make a meaningful impact on society. Help Ghanaians to do business better and become more productive. We do not intend to re-invent the wheel, and will bring on board software solutions that has kept the world’s largest business empires still flourishing to micro business in Ghana.

My passion is to provide solutions that help my people eliminate waste, increase quality streamline processes and reduce cost of producing goods and services, thus making them highly productive. My dream is to put an application in every small business, a mobile application in every Ghanaian pocket, inspire my people to excellence through world-class ingenuous business improvement solutions.

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