Ghana’s traditional marketplace remains active and highly patronized to date. Both the rich and poor like to shop there because they could bargain for a fair price and literally get whatever they need.
Nonetheless, Andrew Asamoah was ready to risk his lucrative job at the UN and also get Ghanaians hooked on the shopping mall concept. In this regard, he left his job as a director of the World Health Organisation to open Ghana’s first shopping mall, A & C Shopping Mall, in 2005.
The journey to building Ghana’s first shopping mall started with the founding of an Accra-based commercial property company called A&C Development. The creation of the property company was born out of his desire to own property.
According to him, when he was growing up, his family always rented property and he wanted to break that cycle. By age 26, he had built his first house. And following that, his interest in owning property never waned. He invested in properties in Geneva, London and New York. He also invested in land in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
“I bought the land where A&C Mall stands today, 10 years before I returned to Ghana,” he told How We Made It in Africa. Building a shopping mall was not Asamoah’s original plan. He wanted to venture into building apartments and condos for sale. However, upon realizing that Ghana had no malls, he decided to venture into that space.
With his savings, he started A&C Mall and later approached banks for funding. “I thought that it would be an easy sell,” he said. “It was not; as this would be the first mall in Ghana, the banks were sceptical.”
According to How We Made It in Africa, the banks argued that it will be very difficult for Ghanaians to abandon the traditional market space for a mall. This unfavorable news did not deter Asamoah from continuing with his dream. He sold off his properties in Geneva, London and New York to fund the first phase of A&C Mall himself. To get an anchor tenant, he approached larger local supermarkets and later South African retailer SPAR for a partnership but it did not materialize.
He eventually got retailer MaxMart to partner with for the completion of the first phase of the project. “They took 40% of the available space from phase one. Once their contract was in place, it took us less than six months to get to 100% occupancy,” Asamoah told How We Made It in Africa.
For the second and third phases of the project which include a fuel station, a fitness center and Business Centre 1, Asamoah used proceeds from the mall and A&C Development’s other properties in Ghana to finance those phases. There are now banks and other retailers at the center.
Asamoah’s future plan includes expanding A&C Mall by building A & C Corner, a 9,000m2 center 1km away from A&C Mall, focused on the provision of building materials and décor. The next plan is to build the A&C Village, which is expected to be six times the original A&C Mall.