In 2011, Michael Nii-Ayitey Hammond started his publication company, MLD Publications. Currently, in Level 300 at the Wisconsin International University College, Michael has risen to become a top student entrepreneur in Ghana competing with other leading magazines for business.
In this SYENET feature, we interacted with Michael to know more about his company and what inspired him to start MLD Publications which now employs 8 people.
Name: Michael Nii – Ayitey Hammond
School: Wisconsin International University College
Year: 3rd Year
Course: LLB (Law)
Name of Company: MLD Publications, (publishers of BizzAfrica)
SYENET: What inspired your entrepreneurial journey?
Michael: I have enjoyed reading and writing since childhood. This culminated into the circulation of the written articles through various media. Along the line, I held a number of offices that gave me the opportunity to further develop my writing skills. The resolution to publish a magazine was made when I decided to provide a platform for myself and other like – minded people to further develop our writing skills and generate income from it as well.
SYENET: How did you raise your startup capital?
Michael: The business is primarily self – funded. This has been supplemented by varied contributions from the partners on board. At the initial stages, attempts to get support from external sources proved futile, as it became obvious that no one was willing to invest in an untested business idea. The decision to launch BizzAfrica yielded fruits, as the launch provided some funds to continue growing the business.
SYENET: What significant successes have you chalked so far in business?
Michael: BizzAfrica comes in two formats – online on www.bizzafrica.com and a quarterly hardcopy version. We have consistently developed our content to meet the current needs of our target market. Our clients keep growing in number and continue to do business with us. In October 2016, we successfully partnered with a number of groups to organise the Young Entrepreneurs Summit. Currently, we have developed more products, services, projects and programmes to meet the preferences of our clients.
SYENET: How have you combined studies and work so successfully?
Michael: It comes down to planning. Living an organised life isn’t rocket science. The ability to multitask as well as setting and achieving objectives goes a long way to play a role in one’s attempt to combine school with work. Then again, there is the need to get out of one’s comfort zone if there are goals to be achieved.
SYENET: What challenges do you face as a Student Entrepreneur and how do you overcome them?
Michael: Top on the list has always been the time constraint. More often than not, when business comes calling in instances where there are academic responsibilities to be executed, one is torn between the two and a decision has to be made as regards which one to pay attention to. This nevertheless creates room for ingenuity, as your ability to find a creative way to deal with such situations enhances your entrepreneurial acumen.
SYENET: After school, what are your entrepreneurial plans?
Michael: I intend to grow my business to a level where I can continue to play a role in it after school so that it becomes a viable alternative for work after school. I am convinced that BizzAfrica is playing a crucial role in Africa’s business environment, and for that matter, it would continue to remain relevant in Africa’s business terrain. In that regard, it would be in the position to employ others as well and as such play a crucial role in mitigating the canker of unemployment in Africa.
SYENET: What supports do you need to scale up your business?
Michael: BizzAfrica has gradually established itself as Africa’s premier magazine for young African entrepreneurs. Support is needed in the areas of funding for business expansion. The magazine if freely available, and thus generates revenue primarily from advertisements. An increase in our client base and for that matter revenue would go long way to boost business growth.
SYENET: What are the top 5 lessons you have learnt in business so far?
- Those with the wherewithal to support startups are hesitant to do so because the fear of the unknown suppresses their desire to assist.
- A solid team plays an important role in the growth of a business venture.
- Cash is king. No matter how brilliant the business idea is, it is worthless if not funded and translated into an actual business.
- Always go the extra mile for clients. Once you take care of their business, they would take care of yours.
- Never give up no matter the challenges, but rather learn from failures.
SYENET: What advice do you have for other students?
Michael: Year in, year out, various tertiary institutions churn out several thousands of graduates. Compared with the limited opportunities in the corporate world, it becomes a matter of necessity to consider entrepreneurship as an alternative to being employed by an establishment after school. Entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to harness one’s innate potential which could be diverted towards an income – generating venture. In these modern times, it isn’t just an option; it has become a necessity.