MTN Ghana recently announced its annual results for 2016, showing a strong performance for the year. The company, the leader in the Telecoms industry continues to grow its subscriber base for both voice and data. Considering the success of the company, I thought I should share a few lessons I have picked from their operations.

Georgina Asare Fiagbenu
Georgina Asare Fiagbenu
When MTN entered the telecommunications space in South Africa in 1994, its vision was to bring world-class telecommunications to the developing world. It achieved that vision in less than two decades

Lesson 1: When you set up a company, set an ambitious and challenging goal and work towards it. Don’t leave it in your cabinet or hang it beautifully on a wall. Visions are not realized because they have been developed and hanged somewhere; they materialize because good leaders drive the vision into reality.
Did you know that Scancom Ltd was begun operations in 1996? In 1999 the company had only 27,000 customers?

Lesson 2: It takes time for a company to find its feet. If you have a good idea or a strong conviction with a business case, start it. You may be surprised about how successful it will turn out. The success of MTN in 20 years is simply amazing.

The brand name of the company we now know as MTN used to be Spacefon and Spacefon Areeba. MTN later acquired Scancom Ltd and rebranded in 2007. At the time MTN acquired Scancom Ltd, the company had 2.5 million subscribers. In 2011, MTN achieved its 10 million subscriber milestone, and in July 2015 MTN reached the 15 million subscriber milestone. Last week, MTN Ghana reported that it had reached the 19 million subscriber milestone. This is a great achievement.

Lesson 3: At the time MTN acquired the company, I am sure both employees and the market were anxious about the future but it is obvious that after the acquisition the company experienced phenomenal growth. Your business may grow if you allow some other interventions.

Scancom Limited started operations twenty years ago at Graphic Road, Accra, with a group of about 20 energetic young people. Today, the company employs over 1000 people and generates secondary employment for more than 500,000. Retailers who depend on the company for their livelihoods are around 200,000.

LESSON 4: Your employees and trade partners are the greatest resource you have. Take good care of them, win their trust and loyalty and they will help grow your company.
In 1998, Spacefon launched the first prepaid service in Ghana. The company has seen many transformations in technology, from GPRS, EDGE, 2G, 3G to 4G services.

Lesson 5: To succeed in business you must be willing to invest in technology. Without constant investment in your business, the tools of your trade, processes and technology you use will soon become obsolete. Innovation and constant investment will stimulate growth and drive excitement.
When MTN makes profit, it does not only pay taxes, it also invests in the community. The MTN Ghana Foundation which was set by MTN to drive its social investment projects has invested about 32.2 million Ghana cedis in community improvement companies. So not only is MTN interested in expanding its business, it also gives back to society through its Foundation.

Lesson 6: We all have an obligation to the members of our community. Every company needs to make a decision on its own way of giving back to the community. You don’t have to set up a Foundation. You may start by getting your employees out into the community to do an outreach program or to visit a hospital. .
From the time MTN was set up, it was known for being the leader in VOICE services. Today the Voice market is shrinking and the company is now driving a digital agenda. MTN Mobile Money was created as part of MTN’s digital drive. Today it has become an incredible line of business for the company.

Lesson 7: Every business has to respond to changes in the market. You may have to diversify, expand, or find new “cheese to enable you survive. Remember companies like Blackberry, Nokia, Fuji and Kodak. Where are they now? This should get every business to innovate and respond to changes.
So there you have it. My eight powerful lessons from MTN. You can send me any other lessons you like to share.

Source: Georgina Asare Fiagbenu [ MTN Ghana ]