Titans of Africa
M&C Group Global is, this year, 2022, celebrating 15 years of operation of its flagship company, M&C Management Consult. In 2007, from a modest but enthusiastic beginning, it took off as an investment advisory consultancy, operating from the living room in one of the suburbs of Accra. It was a consultancy established by a young banking and finance graduate with big dreams. The vision of this young banker has actively identified needs, leveraged on opportunities and took bold risks hence venturing into various business industries. The M&C brand has over the years grown into a global player with presence on four continents.
M&C Group (Global) operates in four thematic areas, namely, M&C Management Consult, for investment advisory and auditing; M&C Logistics and Trading Company, for soft commodities and gold; M&C Properties, for infrastructure and real estate development and M&C Energy, for the downstream oil business.
With offices in Accra, Johannesburg, Dubai, Hong Kong and China, M&C Group has thus placed Ghana on the world pedestal. It is not surprising that M&C Logistics and Trading Company is one of the companies shortlisted by the Minerals Commission and certified by KPMG, and approved as one of three companies to supply gold to the central bank as it moves towards backing the Cedi with Gold.
All businesses start first with an idea and capital as the main ingredients and so was the beginning of M&C Group. The idea behind M&C Management Consults was for advisory consultancy the concept and the human resource to perform tasks, were enough to start the business. Like many other business ventures, the beginning was tough because it was one man business involving a lot of leg work and enthusiasm. The Chinese adage “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”, was the motivating factor.
Michael Leslie Bartlett-Vanderpuye, Chairman of M&C Group (Global), a highly focused, God-fearing person whose interaction with clients during his initial consultancy and advisory service, discovered that many prospective foreign investors were interested to invest in real estate development, agriculture for the production of agri-produce and the gold trading sub-sectors of the economy. These insights birthed the other companies under the group. Michaels preposition has always been to be prepared for when the opportunity comes knocking.
Of the three thematic areas however which were provided, most foreign investors were more interested in gold trading. However M&C Management Consult was not registered to perform such business and that led to the registration in 2008, of M&C Logistics and Trading Limited to take advantage of soft commodities trading and gold and precious minerals.
M&C Logistics and Trading deals in sugar, rice and other cereals on a commission basis by linking importers to large-scale buyers from the sub-region. In the commodities business, M&C Logistics and Trading sources sugar from local importers at the Tema and Takoradi ports, to supply landlocked countries with high Islamic populations, like Mali and Burkina Faso, whose demand for sugar was quite high. The company also assists importers to open letters of credit through local banks for the importation of commodities.
The beauty of being an intermediary between buyers and sellers is the opportunities and other avenues it opens up. One of such was the minerals and petroleum trading. Group Chairman, Michael Bartlett-Vanderpuye quickly registered with the Precious Minerals Marketing Company to learn the ropes to take full advantage of any such business. This strategic move derived from a relationship developed with prospective foreign gold buyers who believed that in Ghana, gold could easily be found on the open market.
He established links with small-scale miners while encouraging some of his clients to do same by funding the business small scale gold miners and pre-financed their operations . In return the miners will sell their winnings directly to M&C. To perform the gold buying trade legally, M&C Logistics and Trading acquired a licence from the Precious Minerals Marketing and the Minerals Commission to engage in gold trading. M&C currently works with more than 200 small scale miners across the country and in Mali and Burkina Faso. But with the sub-region’s volatility, the Mali and Burkina businesses have dropped significantly.
The investment paid off when the company traded its first 500 gram gold bar in Dubai whilst on an exploratory visit. After a number trips to understand the workings in Dubai, M&C found a partner in the free zone enclave.The desire of the Company under the leadership of Mr Bartlett- Vanderpuye, led to the establishment of its first international joint venture in Dubai registered as MNP Trading located in the free zones enclave of Dubai.
Mr. Bartlett-Vanderpuye said “I have always wished to set up a company with global presence and the Dubai operation kick started it to fruition.”
This association was, however, short-lived, as the partners pulled out after two years. Mr. Bartlett-Vanderpuye was however not perturbed and went ahead to register a fully Ghanaian owned subsidiary in Dubai. This was the beginning of M&C’s global growth.
After further research and market surveillance, M&C set up a subsidiary in Hong Kong procurement and gold trading, due to its proximity to China, which is an industrial hub, and to manoeuvre the China law which essentially does not allow a wholly non Chinese owned company to operate. However, a Hong Kong registered company can have an operational office in mainland China. The Hong Kong office was set up to, apart from trading in gold, capitalise on the procurement of quality Chinese products for the Ghanaian market.
M&C therefore partnered a Togolese national resident in China to operate the Guangzhou office. The company’s presence enhanced the ability of M&C to source and negotiate for high quality Chinese products at competitive prices for Ghanaian traders.
“The Hong Kong office became very useful during the COVID 19 crises when M&C brought in to Ghana volumes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including Walk through Sanitising Equipment for the local market. “We actually supplied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other institutions with a number of those equipment,” says Mr Vanderpuye.
Over time, the vision and aspirations of this man birthed other companies under the group to grow in other industries in Ghana to satisfy needs of the stakeholders. And we are committed. Aside the UAE and China operations, M&C Group Global has built 14 companies across the globe.
“The journey has been tough but exciting. Along the line in the past 14 years I have made some very good friends and some enemies as well. Gold trading is quite risky and has repeutational issues. But with the right equipment and operational systems to check what we are buying, we are able to ride the storm,” says Mr Vanderpuye. M&C has a 24 hour police presence on their premises in addition to its highly sophisticated security gadgets that protect both clients and the company. If any person presents any fake gold or intends to raise ruckus, they will be arrested without delay. M&C does not compromise on integrity and its other values.
M&C also provides armoured bullion services for transferring gold across the sub region.
No business entity exists without challenges. Within the M&C Group, human resource challenge is top of the list. Quality staffing is a challenge for the Group where the company spends resources to train quite a number of persons who have resigned shortly after completion for greener pastures. In some cases the staff have been supported to undertake studies abroad and have not returned. The human resource investment is therefore lost and new recruitments have to be made and trained on the job and outside of it.
By way of growth it’s been tough. “There are times we have not been able to pay salaries on time, but the committed staff stuck and stayed with us. If you have a dream, whatever challenges that may come your way you find ways to surmount it and a move on” The Group Chairman is quick to add.
Cash flow is another challenging factor that affects the regularity of timely payments to external and internal clients. The delays may also be as a result of delays in third party commitments to the company from services rendered. Mr. Bartlett-Vanderpuye commended staff members who have stuck with the Group through thick and thin because they believed in the vision. Currently the staff strength of the Group’s domestic operation stands at is 50.
A commendable trait M&C Group has is the fact that the company has always funded it growth organically. No company within has never gone in for a financial support from any bank in all its operations. The Banking and finance background of the Group Chairman empowers him to take strategic decisions to keep the group afloat even in turbulent times.
As far as corporate governance is concerned, the Group is committed to being an organisation with good corporate governance practices. The Group strives to pay its taxes regularly and does not owe the Ghana Revenue Authority in the form of corporate tax or Pay As Earn contributions of staff and social security contributions. It also pays all associated contributions to its regulators such as sustainability tax to the Mineral Commission.
The future for M&C Group Global is brilliant as it advances in working towards its strategic 25 year plan. Regardless of the global economic challenges, M& C was able sustain the positions of its staff during the pandemic and through these difficulties that has befallen the country. The Group is poised to forge ahead in its endeavours and to achieve more in they coming years. M&C Group will begin gold refining by the end of 2024. The Group has already acquired the licence and secured a place for the refinery. The equipment is being manufactured to be delivered in the near future will have the capacity to refine about 100 KG of Gold daily. This development has already started growing new business ideas in line with the refinery’s business. The Group is also committed to working in a sustainable environment to ensure that our business are in accordance with global best practices.
The M&C Group is also venturing into food processing under the brand name Levan Foods. The company has acquired the necessary regulatory requirements and been issue with a licence to operate. We are in the process of registering with the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority. By December 2022, Levan Foods will be on the Ghanaian and international market.
As part of the 15th anniversary of the flagship company, we plan to unveil a new outlook for the company and the staff and we a committed to remaining the “Hub of Confidence” to all our cherished clients.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILTY
The M&C Group appreciates its stakeholders and the community within which it operates. It is in this regard that the Group has undertaken several CSR projects to give back to the community and the people. It put up a 100 bed dormitory block for the Ghana Armed Forces and also supports media activities. During the pandemic the company donated to various entities around its business area to facilitate the stipulated Covid 19 safety protocols, some beneficiaries were the Legon and East Legon Police stations as well as some public schools in the catchment area. Donations to Orphanages and to the less privileged spearhead by the Group Chairman have also been done. Currently some companies under the group are running, educational clinics on YouTube channels to educate the general public on what is involved in gold trading and property acquisition. As the Group gives back to society, we hope to make more meaningful and impactful project to benefit a more wider society.
T.A.R.J. (left), A-DG Honours