THAKWANI’S GAMBLE WITH STEEL IN GHANA
New Delhi: An Indian man’s chance entry into Ghana in Africa, has turned him into a well-respected steel producer. The man’s name is Mukesh Thakwani and he is from Gujarat. Thakwani, chief executive officer of B5Plus Limited said, “I didn’t plan to start a business in Ghana when I arrived in Accra, the country’s capital in 1996 in transit from Liberia.”
But 27 years later, his company is producing over 400,000 tonnes a year and employing thousands of Ghanaians. Since its inception, B5Plus Limited has won over 100 national awards, but Thakwani says, the “one dear to me is the recognition by the Ministry of Health this year, in appreciation for the company’s contribution in donating oxygen to over 100 health facilities to avert crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Giving a background to his entry to Ghana, he said, “I arrived in Ghana in 1996 in transit from Liberia and fell in love with Ghana and the Ghanaian people.”
On this particular visit, Thakwani said he met his uncle who had a business in Ghana and for some reason, he took the decision to spend some time and work for him for a while. Later, he decided to stay and then took the decision to grow a business to produce steel products.
In 2002, he decided to set up his own company. “We started on this very ground where B5Plus is today. It was all bush. When I called a friend to tell him I was building a steel factory, he asked me who would come to buy steel from the bush. No one used to come around here after 5.00 p.m. I remember I had to come here to cut the bush with a friend and my driver,” he said.
The company that started producing only 200 tonnes of nails was able to win over the market as their products became popular because of their price. So, they decided to move into manufacturing galvanised products and later iron rods.
Thakwani said, today, “we are enormously proud to say that B5Plus today is producing 400,000 tonnes of steel a year. In addition to this we have moved into other types of steel production in Ghana which we export to other West African countries.”
It is not only steel that he is producing. He has also started a school, the Delhi (Private) School (DPS) near Tema, in Accra. The school is noted for its academic and non academic activities like art, dance, drama, football, volleyball, singing, swimming which is a holistic approach to education under one roof.
Thakwani said DPS was started because education is very dear to his family. “We always believe that giving education is important. If one person is given education, he can help support 10 people in his family. We realised that in Tema there was a great need for quality education, and we also wanted to create future leaders,” he added.
The school opened its doors in 2010 with 23 students and he said though manufacturing steel was his passion, he also had the desire to build a top-class school where the fees would be affordable to all but with an elevated level of teaching and learning. The school was planned to be available to people from diverse backgrounds.
Thakwani said, “PS Ghana is growing to be different from similar schools in West Africa because of the high quality of facilities available, in addition to the fact that the school opened its doors to all because of its affordability. I am proud to say that since 2010, we have shown by good academic records and awards won by our students that we have made a great impact.”
In spite of all his achievements, he is also a philanthropist, and supports many NGOs that are working for the cause of education and health facilities in Ghana. He has a certificate from the prestigious Harvard Business School where he successfully passed the owner/ president management programme. Since 2016, he has been a member of the Young President Organization (YPO). In addition, he is also an executive board member of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).