AccTech’s unique African business model

Expansion across the continent is the ambition for most South African companies, but AccTech has adopted an interesting and successful approach.

brainstorm AccTech's unique African business modelBy Donovan Jackson – Copyright Brainstorm & AccTech Systems.
Photo credit: Suzanne Gell, Mariette Landman

AccTech has made itself one of the world’s foremost Sage ERP Accpac partners by a determination to do things a little differently from the norm. That innovative spirit carries over to its plans and activities in the continent of Africa, where its approach to partnering and growing its footprint is modelled on a franchise operation, rather than the traditional channel approach.

Largely on the back of this route to market, the company has racked up substantial success; indeed, AccTech’s sales director Marc Gower says there practically isn’t a country on the continent where AccTech doesn’t support a customer.

“From the rainforests of Liberia to the savannas of Kenya there are AccTech implementations all over Africa,” says Gower – quipping that the company’s service and training is obviously mature and structured to accommodate remote African conditions.

He says AccTech, like many other companies, sees considerable opportunity on the continent. “Africa has been neglected in terms of the wave of business systems and the modern way of doing things that these systems enable. Once the advantages are accepted, business owners can take advantage of the latest developments while also having the benefit of not dealing with a tangle of legacy systems,” he says

In its experience, continues Gower, AccTech has found that most businesses are quite capable of doing just that. AccTech has helped many organisations throughout Africa to assess their current requirements and infrastructure and then to deliver solutions that leapfrog legacy systems that often constrain similar organisations in more developed markets.

A services franchise?

But more on this business model, which certainly sounds unusual. “What we have embarked on is a franchise approach where we identify suitable partners that we can work with from within Africa. These partners commit financially to operating an AccTech franchise in their country; they own equity, while we provide the methodology, training and support to develop the market,” Gower explains.

This, he says, empowers the local entrepreneur in that country with modern technologies backed by a large, stable and experienced ERP solution provider in South Africa, while giving AccTech a local presence and market exposure. “The model works well, since local people are the partners and bring their experience, knowledge and contacts to bear while we leverage our resources to support them and their customers.” Gower says AccTech has not opted for the traditional channel approach as it does not work well in the territories where we operate.

Opportunity, of course, is most easily tapped from within an existing customer base. That works rather well for AccTech and its African partners. “Many companies which are our domestic clients have a multiple country presence. Various mining organisations, as example have operations in western, central and other parts of Africa. The ability to offer these businesses local support is attractive to them,” he says.

Evidence of success

As already intimated, AccTech has recorded particular success in many countries. “Many started as a low budget branch but with committed people and an investment in developing skills, the success has come. We have seen it – the more that is spent on training and knowledge sharing, the more successes that result,” he says.

The company’s Microsoft solutions have done particularly well throughout Africa. “Customers have experienced a particular shortage of Microsoft skilled resources in their countries. The AccTech Alliance program addresses this shortage providing an important asset to our remote customers.”

And something which Gower says is apparent is that customers in Africa really appreciate getting good service and attention. “Many were frustrated with poor service and a lack of standards where service providers were under skilled and operating without mature methodologies. Applying our well-tested methodology has provided tangible business value,” he notes.

Interestingly, in Ghana AccTech didn’t start with a new partner but forged a relationship with an existing solution provider which – using the franchise model – opted to rebrand as AccTech. “This particular business had existing market share but sought to expand to the next level. The answer was to look for the backing of an organisation like ours,” he says. The brand equity which AccTech enjoys has allowed the Ghanaian operation to achieve greater market penetration, particularly with multinational customers.

“Most recently, we have forged an Alliance in Nigeria. The anticipation is that we should do very well in this market, which to date we have not aggressively engaged. This has been welcomed by our existing customers in Nigeria,” Gower says.

A proven model

As it continues to criss-cross the continent, Gower says AccTech will apply the same methodology as it grows capacity and markets. He reiterates that training and the development of local partners and capacity remains one of the key factors for success. “The target market is very much Africa and not South Africa in isolation. We see this as one big market segmented by the different countries. And that approach is doing very well,” he concludes.