Once in a while you meet someone who may not be a family member but connects to you like one. You can also meet someone who may not be a father but relates to you as one. That is how I felt connected to Mr Dan Kofi Okudzeto the first time I met him.
On an occasion when he has entered into a significant milestone in his life, I take the opportunity to celebrate the life of Mr Dan Kofi Okudzeto, founder of three successful companies. I believe he is such a genius in business but most importantly, he is an example of why we should not despise small beginnings.
Timely decision and risk taking : It is very apt to describe the man as a self-made millionaire having started as a teacher who transitioned into something unconventional in his days – working as a kerosine peddler, what we call ‘Gao Gao’ at Dabala in the Volta Region. He took the risk of setting up a small business alongside. Although teaching is a noble profession he knew that it was time to move on and he took his chances. He would have still impacted many lives as a teacher but now his impact is felt in a gargantuan way. He now has three big businesses; Allied, Oil Channel and Danicom all of which employs more than a 1000 people. I am sure he pays millions in taxes and his investments stretches beyond imagination.
Diligence and focus: He is the perfect example of what the Bible says in Ecclesiastics 9:10a whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all thy might. No wonder, in 1995, Mr. Okudzeto won the National Level Best Peddler Award for the Volta region. In a citation given to him, Goil, now an avid competitor of his, noted during an awards ceremony, “On the quiet, you have been working so hard and successfully across the whole country. You are the source of light to many a household in the rural areas. Even in the exceptionally lean periods when kerosene was being rationed, you were able to meet the company’s sales targets. We therefore confer on you the honor of being the best Goil peddler of the year 1995”. He went into his own business with that diligence and focus and today he is reaping the fruits of his labor.
Bold entry into unfamiliar territory:Mr. Dan Okudzeto did not allow the award he was given to prevent him from “invading” Goil’s space. With the instinct of a daring business man, he bought a broken down and abandoned truck from Adidome which he converted into his first tanker. Isn’t it amazing that just two decades ago, he was a peddler for the national oil marketing company and today he is giving Goil a run for their money? Today, he is credited as the first Ghanaian to secure an Oil Marketing Companies license, opening doors for over 100 other locals to participate in an industry that used to be solely reserved for foreign multinationals. Today, the industry contributes hundreds of millions annually to the nation’s coffers according to the Association of Oil Marketing Companies of Ghana). The boldness and decisiveness of Mr. Okudzeto is aptly demonstrated in how he started his haulage business, Danicom, and his other businesses.
Deep connection to his roots: One of the things my husband admires about Uncle Dan (as he calls him) is his deep connection to his roots. I have never seen a man who is so much in love with his roots. His love for his hometown is not surprising and the investments he has made there tell it all. This spans the land which makes up his home and its location near the riverside shows the boldness with which he stretches his ambitions both in business and in his home affairs. Perhaps his biggest investments in his home townis the seeds of love and affection that he has sown in his community.
Family focus: I admire his deep love for his family. He is married to his wife for 40 years, with whom he has two biological children, one of whom he has groomed to be the CEO of Allied. In reality he has many more adopted children. This only tells me that he has been able to attain a great balance between his career and family life. I salute his wife Mrs. Okudzeto as well for her support to her husband. His children have a strong legacy from their father – a lifetime of goodwill and three powerful companies and counting.
Giving back: Mr Okudzeto believes that to whom much is given, much is required. As a senior person who is blessed with resources he does a lot for humanity. There is a lot that he does for many people in the background. He has and continues to support several developmental projects in Adidome and elsewhere in the Volta Region. He has set up people in businesses and have given lifelines to many young people who otherwise had no hope of making it in life. He doesn’t make noise about his philanthropy, nor does he take a lot credit for them. I can personally testify to this because years back when my husband was undertaking a programme at the University of Ghana, he was so excited and offered him monthly allocation of fuel for a long period.
Humility: In our part of the world, not many people get this rich and are down to earth. Uncle Dan is in a class of his own in this regard. My husband will say; “it is unbelievable how this man is able to connect to everybody; rich or poor. He is able to recognize people both young and old by their names”. He attends funerals of both the noble and the poor and more often extends help when he can but you will hardly hear of it.
As Mr. Dan Okudzeto celebrates his landmark birthday, the best gift one can offer is to compliment his efforts. I can only imagine how he is feeling. If I were him, I would be overjoyed having seen how successful I am with both family, businesses and in society as a whole.
I have no doubt about the future of his businesses because he has six powerful experienced men on both the Allied and Oil Channel boards. His management team for Allied is also all male whilst the team for Oil Channel has one female.
Efo Dan, as a gender advocate, my only humble request is that you consider female representation when the need arises.
I cannot imagine how the next decade will be for Mr Okudzeto but it surely must be an excellent one. Looking at how “young” and strong he looks, I can imagine that he will continue to guide his businesses to continue to grow across the country and within the sub region. I know Mr Okudzeto and his businesses does a lot for charity and I hope that very soon his company will set up a Foundation to streamline and grow his CSR agenda.
Happy 70th birthday Mr Dan Kofi Okudzeto and may your business continue to grow extensively.
BY GEORGINA ASARE FIAGBENU