Origin of Hatua Tech
As a true son of the Pan-African spirit of entrepreneurship, Nehemiah Attigah founded Hatua Tech officially in 2011, having acquired a substantial amount of work experience in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, and The Gambia.
The Courage to Dream: from Employee to Employer
“I had been contemplating this (starting a business), as far back as 2007, but I guess I did not have the guts to do it alone, and so every time I talk about it, I feel like I needed a large team to start with.”
” I started having conversations with friends who would be interested, but I could not see the zeal because it was not their vision.”
“In 2010, I said enough was enough, and I needed to do this because coming back to Ghana, I had the opportunity to work for a multinational, and I had other opportunities to go back to South Africa…I had all these opportunities staring at me, but I wanted to come and see how this (the business) would work out.”
East Africa: a Regional Benchmark
Inspired by the Swahili language and the East African technology landscape, Nehemiah chose a name for his business that would always keep him accountable: Hatua, which means “Action” or “Steps.”
Having identified that businesses faced immense challenges in streamlining their information and processes, Nehemiah founded the company with one mission: delivering dynamic business solutions and services with appropriate technologies, using an integrated approach that reflects the highest industry standards.
What started as a team of two grew to become an able team of 15 people managing operations within Ghana and now, Nigeria.
Financing the Business
“I sold my car at the time to finance the business. Sometimes if I had a client who wanted to meet me at an office, I would borrow a friend a room in their office space to hold that meeting. There was even a hotel (it does not exist now) where we would have a lot of our meetings there.”
“I could not put my funds into an office space at the time; the company needed internet access and the day to day operations of looking for prospective clients. We got our first office space courtesy of a friend’s uncle, and we still needed to renovate it.”
With tight measures, the company achieved financial sustainability over the years and has enabled them to focus on scaling the business.
Key Lesson on Finances
“In hindsight, we could have done better to ensure that we spend appropriately and have even hired financial consultants to review our books, and we employed a new finance manager who has been very effective since she came.”
Understanding the Market
” After working in the enterprise for some time, and I knew how people saw technology as something intangible, even if someone were to inform them that they needed a (Technology) service, they would still ask themselves whether they truly need this.”
It was important for the young techpreneur to challenge this misconception by showcasing services that their clients needed. These would be mostly service-based clients working in the financial, health, hospitality, and other sectors such as manufacturing.
“There will always be new enterprises, people starting new businesses, people who want to do things better than they currently do. There will always be an enterprise looking for solutions. They will look at managing their financials, managing their HR-payroll…”
Marketing the Business
Hatua tech caters to enterprise customers and has acquired new clients due to service advocacy or while speaking at corporate conferences or television.
The company has thrived on referrals and walk-ins to share their vision to companies and the services they provide.
Due to their business’s formality and the profile of their clients, Hatua Tech prioritises Linkedin over other social media platforms as a medium to nurture leads.
Redefining Company Culture
Nehemiah had served in companies with no hierarchy of formality in terms of ‘who is the boss .’ He intended to adopt that culture in his company but met challenges along the way.
“I had come from an environment where there was a flat hierarchy, and we mostly had team leads or certain types of managers, and so I tried to create a similar environment. I realised that in Ghana, people would like to see a straight hierarchy where you have certain types of structures. They could not understand how a boss can come and speak with them in a down-to-earth way.”
“In the early days, people would take that relationship for granted and would start misbehaving or becoming entitled and things like that.”
Employee Capacity Building
“The biggest challenge is skilled…so what we have done is to hire National Service people, and train them. As they work with us, train, and by the time they hit six months, if they are good enough, continue working with us.”
“We also have put free training programmes where we get people to apply, and we support them with transport allowance for the entire period.”
Appeal: A Company of Action
With their famous slogan: your growth, our priority, Hatua Tech prioritises customer centricity; always ready to serve and understand a client’s processes and pains to provide a personalised service catered to the exact needs.
“We are process-driven,most clients like to work with us because it is less “we against them” and more of a partnership than anything else…at the end of the day, it is the results that matter most.”
“Apart from maybe one client, we have kept all our customers over the years. It is difficult to make customers happy,and now that there are even more options (in the market), they may walk away,but I am glad that we have made all our clients happy over the years.”
“I have also been able to keep most of my core team members, and even those who have left…because of good succession planning, we always know whoever will replace the other person is good enough to do the job.”
Hatua tech was also the first technology company officially listed as a Microsoft partner in Ghana. They have received their support and even customer referral when it comes to business opportunities.
The company has also partnered with On Point, a Maltese software company that has now opened opportunities for Hatua Tech to work with different international clients across On Point’s countries of Malta, the Czech Republic, and Nigeria.
Journey with GrowthAfrica
Nehemiah had the vision to scale his business and take it to greater heights.
“The inputs that are made especially during the brain trusts, and the one-on-ones, you find them pretty valuable.”
” When we went through a gap analysis of our businesses, we came up with three priorities: an effective sales and marketing strategy, team alignment with mission, vision, and processes, and the third one was ensuring that the team members had certain types of soft skills.”
“The programme helped us to break these gaps down into much simpler steps, and create timelines to ensure that we solve these gaps.”
Nehemiah looks forward to Hatua Tech and On Point partnering permanently with a potential merger in the years to come and position the now, Hatua On Point globally as a leading technology solutions company.