Opinions Sun, 20 Jan 2019

Bringing the world to your doorstep - Aquantuo

The need to get a package from abroad to our doorsteps in Ghana has been a long-standing concern that has been addressed to certain extents in the past through several channels.

Companies like Ghana Post, FedEx and DHL have pioneered the movement of packages from abroad into the country and vice versa, either wholly or while depending on other subsidiaries. For larger items that need to be sent by either Air or Sea Freight, there are also local and foreign based businesses that help move packages from abroad into the country and from Ghana out.

The typical person is not usually looking to ship a ton of items at a given time. It’s typically a single item or a handful of items. These could include a part for an equipment that is hard or impossible to come by locally, clothing and apparel, electronic gadgets, or to receive a package from a family or friend located outside of Ghana. While the three afore mentioned companies are into shipping, they don’t offer a one stop service to this ever-growing unique audience.

So to be able to lie in bed, pick your phone and order an item from an online store and receive it at home or business in Ghana in a few days is quite a feat, which honestly speaking, is long overdue. I believe Kwame Nkrumah is nodding from his mausoleum in agreement.

There are quite a few companies in this space that provide a one stop platform to have items you need abroad brought to your door or to send packages from Ghana to the US from the convenience of your phone or laptop. One of such companies which I was wowed by, both by their platform and exceptional customer service is Aquantuo.

Like other companies in the space, Aquantuo does three things:

1. Concierge Service. Aquantuo calls it “Buy For Me”. This is where, using their app or website, you tell them exactly what you want or give them an idea and they will go shopping for you. They shop from online stores as well as from Wholesale brick and mortar US stores like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club/Walmart.

2. Online Shopping. Their platform is not directly integrated into other online stores. So what happens is here is, you shop from your favorite online retailer like Zara and at checkout, you choose to ship it to the address Aquantuo gives you when you sign up on their site. This address is Aquantuo’s US address. Once they get the package from the retailer, they will arrange to get it to you in Ghana.

3. Package Pickup/Delivery (Door to Door). For some packages and depending on where it is located in the US, Aquantuo will arrange pick up from that US location to be dropped at your door in Ghana or have it sent from Ghana to the US. Yes, they do both Air and Sea Freights as well. So if you are a business, you are covered.

For some people, and I have been there, there might be an initial hesitation, especially trying something in unchartered territories. We will typically proceed if we have who recommends the company. Questions like “can I trust my own people?”. “Are they real?”, “Could a Ghanaian company meet or exceed my expectations?” Call me myopic and I won’t fight it, especially considering we are flooded with many success stories of successful businesses in Ghana, started, owned or managed by Ghanaians. However, if we will be honest with ourselves, trust is a key factor in determining which business we choose to provide the services we need. Most often than not, some of us write off new things before we even give them a chance. If you need someone to vouch for Aquantuo before you leap, you have it from me.

Aquantuo’s customer service professionals are extremely knowledgeable and equipped to handle all manner of inquiries in a prompt manner. Their fees are a fraction of what I would have paid to have had FedEx or DHL bring my packages to me and I wouldn’t have had the full end to end offering like Aquantuo offered me.

As a nation, it seems to me, that quite a number of us are generally more trusting of other nationalities and brands than our own. While this may be predicated on past verifiable negative individual experiences, I believe that we are in an age where entrepreneurs springing up from within our shores should be encouraged and supported. Support that comes by way of making investments into their vision or by patronizing their services. Amazon, FedEx, Menzgold (oh, scratch that), Zara and many of the names we trust now, were practically nameless until, little by little, people bought into their vision, to help them get to where they are today.

It is quite difficult, if not impossible, to come up with a solution to a problem until you have experienced it. There are a lot of startups in this country, especially in the Travel, Tech, Medtech, Food, Agritech and Fintech industries that were founded to solve every day problems that we face in our beloved country. For those of us who are financially positioned to help, let’s seek out and invest in these companies to expedite their growth.

It is refreshing to see companies like Ghana Multimedia Incubator Centre, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology and iSpace Ghana doing their part by offering incubator like environments to help shape new startups while assisting them with the funding needed, where possible.

To companies like Aquantuo and many out there disrupting their unique industries, keep your grind on, it will pay.
Columnist: Francis Ansah