“It’s all about the people.” Matthew Todd
According the UNICEF, 2.2 billion people in the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services. (WHO/UNICEF 2019). By every standard, this is considered a world water crisis.
But in Ghana, West Africa Bfresh, is doing something about it! Bfresh is a clean water project that produces both sachet water and bottled water to serve people in the northern part of the Volta Region, and also the three northern regions. The owner and CEO is Sylvester Nkrumah, referred to as Kwame by friends and colleagues.
Kwame is a successful linguist who speaks eight languages, has translated significant scriptures into the Paasaal and Delo languages, and is a certified translation consultant. Owning a water bottling firm seems an unlikely career for such a competent linguist, but eight years ago, his heart began to ache for the needs in the small town where he grew up. He returned, determined to help the needs of the community. Along the way, he met investors who promised to help.
In January 2013, he started Bfresh as a water purifier and bottling business in southeast Ghana. It is located on the campus of a radio station in the town of Nkwanta about 200 miles from the capital, Accra.
About four years ago, one of the investors wanted better accountability and threatened to pull out. Soon thereafter, IBEC consultant Matthew Todd, was contacted to assess the situation and provide coaching services. Even though Sylvester was a respected spiritual leader and a high energy motivator, things were not going well at Bfresh. Leadership blamed poor roads and a bad energy supply. Matthew was even told that they needed more core values.
NOT! Even though Matthew was an engineer and well qualified to help solve technical problems, the answers lay with the more subtle domains of the business. It was not long until he realized that there already were good core values on the wall. They just needed to follow them.
- Honoring God in all we do
- Valuing individuals and relationships
- Committed to effective partnerships
- Encouraging creativity and innovation
- Managing quality results
- Integrity and high-level accountability
Matthew came into the picture after the dismissal of two corrupt managers (who were fired by Kwame), and learned they were mostly responsible for the poor financial condition of the business. He soon began to provide training for the new general manager and helped him develop a leadership team. The dynamic among the 55 workers began to change as Matthew coached the leadership in what it meant to honor God, value individuals, and be accountable for integrity. Little by little, the leadership became more united around actually living out the values, and they set about to follow guidelines for better control of the revenue and to provide better cash flow management.
Sure, they addressed the energy problem with a capital campaign to fund a solar energy service, and due to the bad roads, they pulled back on long distance deliveries. Two major markets for the water emerged. Hotels and hospitals tend to want bottled water, and the plastic bags are sold to vendors on the streets in 500 ml sachets.
Matthew affirmed to me “…it is always about the people; get them all on the same page and aligned and you will have solved most problems.”
The future is bright for Bfresh. The investor stayed involved, and employees are now held accountable for the values on the wall. Bfresh is a BAM company striving for accountability for the quadruple bottom line: profitability and sustainability, job creation, making disciples on the job and through the radio station; and good stewardship of the local resources.
IBEC loves consultants like Matthew; we love entrepreneurs like Kwame; we love investors like Buster in Texas; we love companies like Bfresh who come through hard times; and we love God who cares for the people of eastern Ghana, West Africa.
Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures