On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Ralph Lauren and the Royal Dutch Shell made the news, the business news. Both global brands came up with “cost-cutting” and “cost-saving” measures… JOB CUTS. Now you may know of the famous ‘Polo’, Lauren and Ralph Lauren clothing brands. This world giant has decided to lay of 8% of its current work force – that’s roughly 1,000 workers and that is the company’s full-time staff, talk less of the countless jobs indirectly connected to this business.
Shell, most recognized as that age-old filling station we see all over the country is Europe’s largest oil company. This oil giant has so far eliminated 12,500 jobs since 2015, that last one being 2,200 jobs just last month. That’s only a year’s period.
Now the reason for this boring preamble is that, a decade ago such news would have even been considered blasphemy. Currently most of us…particularly those in the university have the notion that graduating with a pimped C.V is what is needed to get a job. Most are rushing for Microsoft, Oracle and other I.T based certifications. That isn’t to say that I.T sector is not worth jumping into, on the contrary it’s one of the best markets to be in since there’s still a lot of opportunity for the still growing community in Ghana. News flash – most of those cuts are people with the heaviest resumes. Reality shows the only ones not really worried about job losses are those who have real skills like wood work, catering, “fashion designers’ and most art-related acts. Now it’s not enough to have the brains alone or the ‘hands’, both are critical for a stable future.
The reason for these two companies serving as focal points for this piece because of what they represent – Europe, Ghana’s second largest trade partner. Ghana has had an almost smooth relation to this bloc mainly due to Britain (common wealth/colonialism relations).
Down here, a lot of business have not had it any easier and there’s plenty of reasons for that (let’s leave that topic for another time though). But at the same time a lot of businesses are rising and they all seem to have the same things going for them – skills which seem otherwise mundane.
One such business is Beam Ghana. This company handles such matters like helping Ghanaians abroad check on matters back home like status of building projects, payments on properties and others. They also help people abroad get stuff one would only find on our local markets like some foods and even recently the company helped a client buy a couple of plastic dolls.
Another business which is gaining grounds is the ‘Sobolo’ businesses which has really taken off in Kumasi. Places like Accra are slowly catching up where some ingenious entrepreneurs have really added value to the local beverage through packaging and flavoring. Previously Sobolo was just a beverage tied in light plastic wrapping and sold for a few Pesewas.
Agriculture is another sector slowly gaining back its ground due to some individuals who have seen the wisdom in the adage ‘Sankofa’. Recently a lecturer at the University of Development Studies, Tamale, Prof Juventus Benogle Ziem has for four years now been working on his banana plantation in Upper West Region. The medical science lecturer now has expanded to 15 acres and has the black Volta as a source of irrigation and has been very successful in this venture. Since then three others have joined and they have proven that even foods like banana can do well in the northern belt.
The news now is that a lot of youth from Burkina Faso are now jumping into this venture. It’s like ‘free money’. There’s land, water…. the only constraint maybe if one wants to start big on vast acres where getting machinery like irrigation pumps would be difficult.
And now that the Great Britain has voted to leave the EU, things are just going to get shakier and hopefully not for long. But this also presents fortuitous opportunities for Ghana and other Commonwealth countries. This is because now Britain will be forced to rely heavily on its Commonwealth partners since the rest of the EU is feeling slighted by the Brexit. Even old allies like USA have had their markets severely affected by the Brexit. So another thing Ghana will capitalize on is that we can seek to renegotiate trade restrictions in our favor with the EU since the EU would be anxious to retain trade partnership with countries who more or less were pulled in by the U.K. Ghanaian businesses can also take advantage of the almost non—existent market restrictions with the U.K to grow their businesses, especially foresighted entrepreneurs.
It is imperative now more than ever for the youth to be more creative as the gap between the rich and poor is now an almost unbridgeable chasm, never closing, WORLDWIDE.
Written By : Robert Wogbe-Dogoe, BSc. Chemistry, Level 300, KNUST.