Thursday, January 22, 2009

Determination, tenacity and hard work make successful entrepreneurs – Leanna Archer

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

One of America’s teen business prodigies says the characteristics that make a successful entrepreneur are determination, tenacity, hard work and discipline.

Adding, “running a business is not about what you like, it's about what makes the customers happy,” she tells in an exclusive interview via the internet.

Leanna Archer is only 13 years old and still in school at Our Lady of Providence school in Long Island, New York - she still does her home work, but she is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of her own business, Leanna’s Inc., a hair and body care company she started in 2005.

“I was eight when I initiated the idea of starting the business, it became official after I convinced my parents when I was nine,” she told

Asked how she got the idea to start her business at that tender age, she said, “I heard my parents always saying that the only way to get rich in life is to own your own business.” These words from her parents motivated her to start thinking about and eventually trying her hands at her business.

She started a business selling hair products made from a home-made recipe that her grandmother used on family members’ hair before she was born.

Leanna makes approximately $5000 monthly selling her products and she has been featured at number 12 in Inc. Magazine’s “30 under 30” entrepreneurs in America.

She has also been interviewed by most of the major media in the US, including ABC News, New York Daily and MSNBC.

On October 16, 2008, she rang the bell to open the NASDAQ Stock Market and on that day the market went up 400 points!

But Leanna didn’t have it easy starting her business.

“My very first challenge was convincing my parents that I was capable of following through on my idea to start a business,” she said.

She recounted her parents’ reaction when she told them about starting her own business. “My parents were shocked, they thought it was a phase that I would eventually get over, however they realized that I was serious when I began making efforts my self to get the license to begin.”

Leanna told us she did the research herself and found information on how to register her business. “When I gave all these information that I found on how to get the license to start, they took me serious and then they helped me to obtain the license as well as helping me to develop a website.”

“I am very grateful to them,” she says.

According to her, she needed their support in the beginning to work on structuring her days to fit school, sports, music lessons and her business. Moreover, she needed them to scale the legal boundaries for setting up her business as a teenager.

“It was also a challenge to get everyone to take me seriously because I am so young,” she added. But her tenacity and determination paid off eventually.

When asked Leanna why she chose the line of business that she did, she said “I didn’t really choose the line of business, it chose me. It was like destiny. The recipe was in the family for a long time but no one thought of the idea to sell it to the public. Early on, I realized that I was marketing the original hair dressing that my mom used in my hair since I was three due to all the compliments that I was getting. That is when I became convinced that I should make it available to all.”

Admitting that she did not know much about Africa and for that matter Ghana, she gave this advice to young Ghanaians, “I’m thinking in Ghana, anyone can start a business too but as for the US, yes anything is possible but make no mistake that if it’s not for a parent or a legal guardian, starting at a very young age is not possible because of all the legal issues.

But let’s say you are 18 years of age which is still young, anyone can start a business.”

Leanna then gave the example of how she encouraged her elder brother to start his own shoe business. “After motivating my brother, he leannastarted by sketching some shoe samples, then had one made, sells it, then he had about five made, now he’s got a bunch, he was 16 at the time. You can view his shoes at”

“When you start a business at a young age, especially while you’re in school and living with your parents, you can start with one item, I started with nothing. I sold one jar of grease, then two etc. when I had enough money to get a business license, I did, then when I had enough money to get a website, I did, all that took time but I was in no hurry,” Leanna admonished.

“You have become famous, how do you handle your fame?” We asked her.

“To me, everything is still the same. I don’t think I’m any different than I was before my fame. I still play with the same friends. No one in my current school knew about my business and my money until they saw an article about me in a newspaper,” she answered.

The teenager born in Queens, New York, has been a motivational speaker over the years telling both children and adults about her story.

Leanna also offers advice to her customers over the phone about how to use her products. “I give my customers advice about the regimen they should follow to promote hair growth and they all take me seriously,” she says.

Leanna once wrote to say she would love to come to Ghana and talk to Ghanaian young people to motivate them. When she was asked if that plan was still on the table, she said, “my plan to visit Ghana and go to schools, churches and villages to talk to kids and adults is still the same. I’m hoping I can get an invitation either from the government or an organization that can sponsor my trip. Otherwise, when I can with my own funding I will plan the trip.”

Leanna’s hair and body care products are currently sold in shops and hair salons across the United States and online on her website

Leanna goes to school, does her homework, travels around to give motivational talks and with her parents’ help she packages orders during the weekends and ships to her customers.

Only 13 years old, Leanna Archer has learned to succeed, and she sums up her secret in these words, “I have learned that I must remain determined and tenacious; I have to continue to have structure and discipline. I have to continue to work hard at what I do and I have to continue to listen to my customers. Running a business is not about what you like it's about what makes the customers happy.”


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Indian group's e-mail account hacked in Ghana

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The Metro Film Society in Kochi, India has reported the hacking of its e-mail ID and blog by a cyber thief in Ghana.

The ID theft was detected Thursday January 15, 2009. In a story on Express Buzz, the group said one more cyber cheating in the name of people and organisations in the country by the residents of some African countries came to light on Thursday when the e-mail ID and blog of the Metro Film Society were hacked by miscreants.

The matter came to light when some of the society members received a mail in the name of M. Gopinathan, secretary of the film society, stating that he was stranded in Ghana without money.

“You need to help me with the hotel bill and I will also need $1050 to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of $1600 to sort out my problems here? I need this help so much and on time because I am in a terrible and tight situation here,” said the mail.

The story said, the thief further asked them to transfer the money through Money Gram or the Western Union to the address Gopinathan M., Ghana (country), Accra (city) and 00233 (zip code).

The mail has also an alternate e-mail ID for them to reply, which is a usual characteristic of scam e-mails.

According to the report, some members of the group who grew suspicious over the mail enquired about the fraudulent mail and that is when the office-bearers of the society came to know about it.

The office-bearers of the society immediately sent another mail to the members stating that the society’s blog and their Gmail ID had been hacked.

The mail sent by the Metro Film Society executive committee member A. P. Ramesh Babu on behalf of secretary M. Gopinathan, has asked the members to ignore such mails in future, the report said.

The society has already started the process for generating another blog and email ID.
The report inicated that the society is also planning to file a complaint before the cyber cell on the issue.

Cyber crime is a growing menace in Ghana, and reports suggest it has become the pastime of some young men in the capital Accra. Meanwhile, information available to show that the security services are not up to the task in dealing with the issue.

Recently, a former Information Minister of Ghana, Dr. Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim revealed that about 82 cyber crimes occur in Ghana every month, and that is nearly one thousand crimes yearly. He said this at the 63rd Session of the Governing Council of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sometime in 2008, the Member of Parliament for Dadekotopon, Nii Amasa Namoale’s e-mail account was stolen and his password changed. The thieves then sent e-mails to his contacts asking for money. He was fortunate some of the contacts called him on the phone and he clarified the matter with them.

Hotmail account users so far, have been noted to be more prone to this kind of crime. The hackers normally send emails to account users in MSN interface claiming that their accounts have exceeded their limits and would be closed unless they fill in a form which the hackers include in the mail, asking for their names, email address, date of birth, country and password. Once they get these information, they access the email account and then change the password – effectively blocking the owner from accessing his or her email account.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mrs. Rawlings to sue former President Kufuor

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The wife of former President Jerry Rawlings, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings has threatened to sue former President Kufuor for charging her before court for stealing.

Mrs. Rawlings was put before court on six corruption charges in connection with the divestiture of the Nsawam Cannery Ltd.

She was charged in 2005 for theft, embezzlement and conspiracy to defraud the state, when her husband was President.

President Kufuor on his last day in office dropped all charges against her, and following the former president’s instructions, an Accra Fast Track Court discharged her Thursday January 15, 2009.

But in a statement issued immediately after the ruling, Mrs. Rawlings has threatened to sue the former President for soiling her hard won reputation.

She accused the former president of trying to “score cheap and shameless political points with my fundamental human rights as if he owned my life,” she said.

She wondered why former President Kufuor decided to discontinue the case on his last day in office.

She accused former President Kufuor of ensuring that all members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who were put before court were sentenced. She therefore, expected to go to jail, “like a lamb being led to slaughter,” the statement said.

Mrs. Rawlings said Kufuor withdrew the case, knowing that if it continued under the NDC government, he would be exposed.

She questioned the rationale behind the decision to put her before court in the first place. She asked “if Kufuor thought there was any criminality in the purchase of the Nsawam Cannery what moral basis does he have to withdraw the charges?”

She said while the case was in court, millions of dollars have gone down the drain as she defended herself, while the project itself had been on hold, causing losses in millions of dollars to the tax payer.

“Is Kufuor going to refund all that? Would Kufuor ever be able to turn back the clock to restore to us our lost reputation?” She asked.

Mrs. Rawlings said if it was in another government, the former Attorney-General at the time would have been prosecuted for causing financial loss to the state.

She described the court action against her as an exercise in futility.

Mrs. Rawlings in the statement indicated that her legal team has been instructed to prepare a detailed report for the general public “to appreciate the disdain the previous government had for our liberties and its quest to tarnish our reputation at any cost.”

She therefore, indicated the possibility of bringing court actions against the former President and all others who she say colluded to tarnish her reputation.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

$5 billion invested in mining in Ghana

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

More than US$5 billion have been devoted to new mining projects in Ghana in the past two decades, the President of the International Council on Mining and Metals has said.

Dr. R. Anthony Hodge, who is a leading authority on sustainable development in mining, said in an article published on the online version of the Sunday Monitor, a Ugandan publication that “during that time, the national poverty rate has fallen 12 percent.”

He said of Ghana’s 138 districts, its four mining districts have the lowest poverty levels in the country outside the capital, Accra, adding “effective disease control programmes have been a key component of this success.”

The article which appears to be a strong reaction to critics of the mining industry is titled “How to use Africa’s natural resources sustainably.”

Dr. Hodge who has worked as a professional engineer and consultant to industry and as an advisor to governments in his career cited numerous success stories in African countries where minerals are being mined.

He noted the recent honouring of former Bostwana President by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an Africa-based good governance group.

The Foundation honoured the former Botswana President Festus Mogae with its annual Achievement in African Leadership award.

Mr Mogae has been widely praised for promoting transparency and accountability in the Botswana government. Thanks in large part to his efforts, the small African nation has evolved over the past several decades into one of the continent’s great success stories, he wrote.

He said, Botswana’s history demonstrates that a developing country’s natural resources can be a blessing for economic development and democratic reform efforts.

Botswana has a bounty of natural resources, particularly diamonds.

Its economy has grown roughly 9 percent annually since 1966, and citizens share in a substantial slice of the benefits derived from its major diamond mines.

The Botswana government has funnelled much of the revenues generated by those natural resources into public works projects, including Aids treatments, road reconstruction, and education.

The Debswana mines in Bostwana, for instance, subsidise 100 percent of the anti-retroviral therapies, infection treatments, and related monitoring for employees and their families.

These efforts have been credited with reducing Aids-related employee deaths by 13 percent between 1999 and 2005.

Dr. Hodges’ findings are as a result of research conducted by his organisation, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), together with host governments, international donors and civil society groups. The study he said, found that Botswana was not alone among developing countries in benefiting from its natural resources.
Mineral extraction has positively contributed to economic and political progress in nearly half of the 33 countries studied, he said.

He stated that, beyond the achievements made so far, mining companies can help kick-start growth in developing countries, and cited case studies in Ghana, Tanzania, Chile and Peru as good examples. He said the studies revealed that mining investments proved especially beneficial to nations in the midst of economic revival.

On mining companies’ contribution to Ghana’s healthcare system, he said between 2005 and 2007, in Ghana’s Obuasi district, the mining firm AngloGold Ashanti developed a malaria control programme that brought the incidence of malaria down by 73 percent - with an average monthly reduction of 4,550 cases.

He also cited the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative — a partnership between mining company BHP Billiton, the governments of Swaziland, Mozambique, and South Africa, and local organisations – which has helped reduce malaria deaths by nearly 80 percent in southern Africa.

This initiative is widely regarded as one of the most successful public-private partnerships to control disease and drive regional economic growth, he said. Adding, such examples show that mining firms can make a significant contribution to both a country’s economic development and its social well-being.

Working in partnership, industry and governments can strengthen local land rights, erect proper protections for the environment, control disease, and ensure that revenues are channelled productively back into communities — where they can make tremendous improvements in the quality of life.

These kinds of collaborative efforts are essential to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and lifting Africans out of poverty, he suggested.

Addressing critics of the mining industry, he said, it’s rare this case is heard, of course. Critics often suggest that the mining industry takes much more from local communities than it returns. According to the “resource curse” theory, countries blessed with minerals and natural fuels are inevitably doomed to predatory governance and poverty.

Dr. Hodge is also currently Kinross Professor of Mining and Sustainability in the Department of Mining Engineering, and Helen and Arthur Stollery Professor of Mining Engineering and Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who made third oil discovery in Ghana? Is it Tullow or Kosmos?

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

News broke this morning, January 8, 2009 that a third discovery of oil has been made in Ghana. But in separate statements released by two companies in the oil industry, UK registered Tullow Oil and US based Kosmos Energy have claimed the discovery.

News organisations across the globe have carried the stories and to the uninformed on best practices in the oil industry, this looks confusing.

But in a telephone conversation with Thursday evening, January 8, 2009, Greg W. Dunlevy, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer who is also a Founding Partner of Kosmos Energy cleared the air. He told that Kosmos and Tullow are partners.

But when asked why neither of the two mentioned the other in their statements announcing the find, he told that all the companies are public companies and they have to make the announcements in the interest of their shareholders.

He added also that, it is standard practice in the oil industry for partners involved in oil exploration to make independent announcements of finds without mentioning their partners.

Mr. Dunlevy said this third oil discovery in Ghana means that Kosmos will continue to remain in the oil and gas exploration business in the country.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ghana Elections: Nail biting polls keep investors on edge

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The stalemate in Ghana’s presidential elections is causing some anxiety among the investor community, according to a report carried by the Daily Graphic, Ghana’s leading newspaper.

The newspaper says local business owners are going through stressful times trying to convince their foreign partners to remain calm, stay in the country and keep their businesses running.

Some of the difficulties the entrepreneurs faced according to the Daily Graphic was to counter news of riots in the streets and incidents of violence in some parts of the country.

The paper quoted an anonymous consultant as saying to his German enquirer, “this is a normal political process by which we select our next leaders. This is mainly because of the closeness of the polls, which has understandably created anxiety among supporters of the two political parties.”

The two political parties contending for the very close election are the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The votes likely to decide the eventual winner after two elections on December 7 and December 28, 2008 failed to elect an outright winner is ongoing at the Tain constituency in the Brong Ahafo region, Friday January 2, 2009.

The NPP have reportedly boycotted the elections, but the Electoral Commission (EC) is going ahead with the polls.

The report indicated that one foreign investor has plans of postponing his flight to Ghana for business. The investor the report said has been persuaded by the local consultant not to reschedule his flight to Ghana, which is in the middle of January to February 2009.

The local consultant was also said to have dispelled rumours that there have been a military take-over and Ghanaians are fleeing the country to neighbouring countries.

The concerns of the investor community is based on the electoral antecedents on the continent in countries like Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe.

The newspaper made reference to Ghana’s oil find. Ghana would start earning revenue from oil in 2010.

One of the companies drilling for oil in Ghana for instance, UK registered Tullow says it is focusing on exploration and development of fields in Uganda and Ghana. It intends to invest at least $3.1 billion in the first phase of its Jubilee field development in Ghana, with crude production expected to start in the second half of 2010.

According to the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Paul McDade, the company plans to pump 68,000 to 70,000 barrels of oil a day in 2008 and output is expected to stay “flat” in the next two years.

There are projections that the oil industry would create an estimated $5 billion ancillary industry.

According to the Country Leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mr. Charles Egan, the concerns of the international investor community is legitimate, considering the past and recent African history, the newspaper reported.

He was also quoted by the newspaper saying, “we have to begin to do more to assure the world that Ghana presents a different case and that nothing will happen before and after the elections.”

The EC would be set to announce the results of the Tain constituency after all the votes have been counted and certified, and barring any possible legal encumbrances, it would announce the winner of the elections who would be sworn into office January 7, 2009 as the third president of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ghana elections: Political parties storm Tain

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The two main political parties contesting the hottest and longest held elections ever in the recent democratic history of Ghana, have stormed Tain (pronounced Taa-in) Constituency in the Brong Ahafo region where the winner is likely to be decided. A run-off voting is due in the area Friday, January 2, 2009.

The people of the Tain Constituency were unable to vote during the run-off elections December 28, 2008 because the Electoral Commission (EC) was unable to send election materials to the area on time. And the EC Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan described the incident as “circumstances beyond our control” when he announced the provisional results of the run-off Tuesday December 30, 2008 at a press conference in Accra.

Soon after the provisional results of the run-off were announced the parties got to work and headed to Tain. Indeed, the workers of the parties who had been in the area never returned to the capital. They were asked to stay there and continue with work as the results were trickling in.

The Tain Constituency is located in the Brong Ahafo region in Northern Ghana. The constituency is within the Tain District which was created in June 2004. It is situated at the North West of Sunyani (Regional Capital) and lies within latitudes 7 ½ and 8o 45` North and longitudes 2o 52` West and 0o 28` East. The District covers a land area of 4,125 sq kilometers. The capital is Nsawkaw, which is 18 miles from Wenchi, the capital of the Wenchi Municipality out of which Tain was carved from.

The district shared common boundaries with Wenchi Municipal to the East, Jaman North to the West, Sunyani Municipal to the South and Berekum Municipal to the South West.

It is also bounded by the Bole District of the Northern Region to the North East and Cote d’Ivoire to the North West.

There are 53,890 registered voters in the Tain constituency.

In the first round of voting December 7, 2008 Prof. John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) polled 16,211 of valid votes cast; representing 50.75 % and Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) polled 14,935 votes which is 46.75 % of valid votes cast, with the remainder going to the other political parties and independent candidate in the Constituency.

After the announcement of the provisional results of the run-off Tuesday, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC polled 4,501,466 votes representing 50.13% of valid votes cast and Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP garnered 4,478,411 representing 49.87% of valid votes cast.

The results put Prof. Mills ahead of Nana Addo with 23,055 votes, and having won the Tain Constituency, the expectation among many Ghanaians is that, Prof. Mills is more likely to carry the day, all things being equal.