From humble beginnings, Kofi Nsiah-Poku, CEO of Kinapharma, has led the manufacturing and distribution company to unprecedented heights
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Callam Waller
2003 has gone down in history as a milestone year for the Ghanaian Premier League.
Despite going unbeaten, Hearts of Oak, a side that had dominated the league table for the past six years, were pipped to the top by Asante Kotoko. Racking up 23 wins and six draws in 30 games, the Kumasi team brought an end to the Accra side’s dominance, finishing nine points ahead.
The season also became a landmark one in other ways, namely through Kinapharma becoming the first local company to sponsor the competition.
“It was a strategy that I think took many people by surprise,” explains Kofi Nsiah-Poku, CEO and Founder of Kinapharma, “but it more than paid off for us in this soccer-loving part of the world.”
Established two decades ago, innovative marketing techniques such as these have been fundamental in allowing the Company to flourish and establish itself as a renowned Ghanaian-operated pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution firm.
“We like to support sporting initiatives,” Nsiah-Poku continues. “Not only does it allow us to bolster our brand, but it also helps to promote a positive message for thousands of people.”
However, aside strategic forays into the sporting sphere, Kofi’s ambitions for Kinapharma are much broader, driven by an overriding vision of becoming the largest indigenous producer of high quality, affordable and reliable pharma products in West Africa.
“In the past 20 years we’ve been able to establish ourselves as a market leader in Ghana, employing around 600 people from all professions, including pharmacists, chemists, microbiologists and accountants,” Nsiah-Poku adds.
“When you go to medical facilities, not only in Ghana but in most West African countries as well, you will find that we are a significant supplier.”
Bolstering the brand
For Nsiah-Poku, initiatives such as the Ghanaian Premier League sponsorship have been crucial in achieving the success that Kinapharma has to date, helping to raise the firm’s profile as a one-stop pharmaceutical shop.
The Company has similarly produced numerous innovative, memorable and captivating television and radio advertising campaigns and worked extensively with hospitals and pharmacies directly, emphasising the importance of the brand in more ways than one.
“In Ghana, we are very well known as a reliable company,” Nsiah-Poku continues.
Equally, this stellar reputation can also be attributed to the first-class products and services that it provides on a consistent basis, most recently evident through its malaria oral combination therapy offerings.
Provided to children under the age of five on a four-dose course, this anti-malaria campaign has proven particularly successful in helping to curb infection in children across West Africa.
“We cover anything from the anti-malaria segment to cough syrups and anti-biotics,” Nsiah-Poku reveals, “but, in my eyes, what differentiates us is the proactive way in which we formulate and market these products.
“Pharmaceutical businesses will thrive as long as human beings are alive. For Kinapharma, however, this is not enough. We recognise that we have to stand out from the crowd.”
From then till now
Kofi Nsiah-Poku founded Kinapharma on his own during his time teaching at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, distributing simple pharmaceutical preparations on the side of his studies.
This led to the launch of a fully-fledged home-grown dispensary business following his graduation, and capitalising on this, Nsiah-Poku began to run a series of retail pharmacies with his wife and partner at work.
Under his leadership, the business continued to expand, quickly becoming a key distributor for popular brands including Janseen and Aryton Saunders.
In 1998 Nsiah-Poku relocated to Accra and launched his first factory under the Kinapharma banner, becoming one of the first pharmacists to venture into large scale pharmaceutical production.
Today, Kinapharma produces more than 150 different brands of products including pain killers, anti-hypertensives, anti-diabetics, anti-malarias, antacids and many others.
A visionary ethos
This differentiated outlook is further revealed in Kinapharma’s approach to charitable causes, helping to promote economic development on a broader, more external front.
Examples of this include the firm’s sponsorship of the Ghanaian Special Olympics team, the running of soup kitchens and the hosting of health screenings in inner city neighbourhoods, setting aside more than $200,000 annually to promote these initiatives and others.
“We collaborate with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, the Ghana Medical Association, Ghana Midwifery Council and other leading industry organisations,” Nsiah-Poku adds. “In each of these partnerships, we work to help highlight our partners’ effectiveness, something that helps to bolster the pharma and healthcare scene in Ghana as a whole.”
Similarly, the Company’s staff are provided with a strong platform for progression and the opportunity to further their personal development skills in a multitude of different ways.
Nsiah-Poku explains: “We have a fully-fledged HR department that supplies extensive in-house training, technical staff are readily sent to seminars and on training courses.”
Promoting both corporate social responsibility and the development of its staff in these ways, Kinapharma is enabling progression in numerous ways across West Africa.
With the turn of the year just around the corner, 2019 offers a number of exciting prospects for the Company looking ahead.
In the aim of maintaining its expansion plan, Kinapharma has pledged to invest $20 million into a new factory that will better safeguard its packaging processes, bringing much of this in-house.
“Our new facility will be a great help in reducing the country’s reliance on imports and curbing future materials shortages,” adds Nsiah-Poku. “Equally, we’re going to be acquiring more sophisticated equipment that will help to bolster our productivity, improve our quality assurance, and reduce our costs long term.”
In the eyes of the Chief Exec, not only will such funding bolster Kinapharma’s domestic operations, but they will also allow the firm to more readily access lucrative new markets, from Nigeria to Central Africa.
He concludes: “Supported by our investments, we want to continue to introduce new products to new markets.”
“With an eye on the likes of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola, we want to better provide ECOWAS nations and beyond with improved healthcare solutions and medicines, all in the view of becoming a household name.”