29 Oct mPedigree a Ghanaian solution to global counterfeiting; the story of GTP
Only few entities are solving Ghana’s many problems. Even fewer are attempting a global solution to the world’s challenges. mPedigree is one of the few companies doing both, breaking the monotony of excuses and explanations that have underlined most of Ghana’s heroic failures. Selorm Branttie, the Global Strategy Director of mPedigree, otherwise the second-in-command of the innovation company tells Myjoyonline.com their “mission is to solve big but common problems.” The problem cannot come any bigger and more common than that of counterfeiting. Hundreds have died in Nigeria due to counterfeit malaria drugs; millions have lost their jobs across the world because their companies cannot break even due to the activities of counterfeiters; thousands of companies have shut down because counterfeiters have taken over their businesses; governments have cumulatively lost trillions of dollars in revenue because the counterfeiters cannot pay taxes on their ill-gotten wealth. Counterfeiting is a global problem with disastrous consequences to the Ghanaian economy which prompted a global search for solution. Many turned to the West but help came from Ghana, in 2007 and it came from smart young men- Bright Simons, Selorm Branttie- with their team of young innovators, whose job at the time was to sniff around for problems and find solutions to them.
mPedigree, found in many of Ghana’s problems God sent opportunities to use the power of technology to help the generality of mankind and to make some money. Its first big break was in the health sector with the mPedigree technology which fought counterfeit malaria drugs, especially in Nigeria.
Like many of the world’s greatest success stories, mPedigree did not start with a glow; its first campaign to certify organic produce from Ghana to the West with a unique number did not quite jell because it was the right prescription for the wrong ailment. But it did something quite phenomenal. It provided the foundation for what would become one of Ghana’s greatest technological solutions to the world’s biggest social and economic debacle of our time.
Today the mPedigree technology, the seal of authentication is in several countries across the world, saving lives and companies and transforming economies of countries who care because the men behind it cared enough and did not relent. Its founder Bright Simons is now a global icon, a recipient of many of the world’s greatest technology awards. Hard work pays.
But how does the mPedigree technology work?
In their plush office building sited in one of the luxurious vicinities in Accra, an intelligent, unassuming Selorm Branttie sat at a round table with his team of dedicated young men and women ostensibly cracking a code for the next big thing. It was brains at work. Any visitor who walked in, even if the person were an empty barrel that made the most noise, would suddenly be aroused not only by the cozy serenity of the environment but by the serious mindedness of the men and women who inhabited the environment.
It was in this environment that Selorm Branttie run Myjoyonline.com through the birth of mPedigree technology; the faces behind it; how it works and of course the new big marriage between mPedigree and textile giants GTP.
“mPedigree is an innovation company that seeks to build innovations that have a giant footprints on the social sphere,” Branttie said with all boldness.
To say that mPedigree has had a profound impact on the health sector is an understatement.
In Nigeria for instance, food and drugs regulators, NAFDAC, declared mPedigree a “mandatory technology for anti-malaria drugs” Branttie said, adding, the CEO of the company, Bright Simons together with other key stakeholders helped in the crafting of a national policy to combat counterfeiting in Nigeria.
In Ghana, Tobinco’s flagship anti malaria product, LONART also has the mPedigree 12 digit seal to authenticate original products from companies.
It is weird for a mother not to recognise her child in the market but in the world of counterfeiting, Selorm Branttie says it is common place for manufacturers not to recognise the products they have taken years to painstakingly produce when placed side-by-side with a fake product. The counterfeiters have become so sophisticated that they replicate the original products in terms of content, packaging, in a manner that only laboratory examination can tell the difference. And sometimes when the products are tested in a lab, an efficacious pill turns out to be pieces chalk. This has wide implications not only on the brand image of manufacturers but on the lives of innocent consumers who use the fake drugs.
So how does the consumer determine at the point of purchase whether the product he or she is buying is original or fake?
Selorm Branttie explained that in collaboration with companies who are interested in keeping the fertility of their brand, mPedigree has etched on the final products of these companies a 12 digit number. These numbers are unique identities to each of these products and are stored in the mPedigree system. The digit is concealed in a seal which has to be scratched by the consumer at the point of purchase. Just like how a phone user will scratch his card to load credit on his phone, consumers would also have to scratch to save their money and more importantly their lives, if the product is medicinal. After scratching the consumer will just text the 12 digit number to a short code 1393 at no cost to him then in five seconds the verdict will be out. If it is an original product the mPedigree technology will provide the unique details of the product; if it is not, the technology will confirm the product may be fake.It was a nice chat with the smooth-talking Selorm Branttie. Any wonder he is the Global Strategy Director of mPedigree? Like every theory class there is a practical or lab session isn’t it? Mr Branttie had scored high marks in trumpeting the credentials of mPedigree. It was time to verify the claims and the lofty postulations he made. To do that we had to go to Tema, to GTP, where the new marriage between mPedigree and GTP had been consummated.
The GTP STORY
After establishing its footprint in the health sector, mPedigree has spread its tentacles to other sectors of the economy bleeding from counterfeit activities.
“In the 1970s and early 80s there were 13 textile manufacturers in Ghana but that number has dissipated to just about two, Marketing Manager of GTP Mr Stephen Badu told Myjoyonline.com. He said the activities of counterfeiters, as well as other factors had eroded the gains made in the industry.
In a shocking reality of the negative impact of counterfeiting in the textile industry, Mr Badu said about 60-70 per cent of textile designs in the market today are fake.
“Counterfeiting in the textile industry is not new. It is an old phenomenon but the challenge we are facing of late is that their modus operandi is changing. It is becoming difficult for people such as ourselves to even distinguish between the fake and the new.
“In the past they will just pick your designs and put their own labels on it so you can easily tell this is not my label or they will pick your design and then fake your label so if it is GTP, you will see something like JTTP, or GTTP. So you can tell the difference. However they have advanced from there. Now they copy everything from the outside you will not notice the difference.
Displaying samples of the fake and original GTP textiles it was almost impossible to tell which one is the product of the original hard work of GTP and fake lazy work of the counterfeiters.
He said the impact of counterfeiting has been horrendous to the industry
It has impacted negatively on our sales. That is the immediate effect you have but even more dangerous for us is that it has affected our brand image and when i say brand, that which makes people believe in you; the promise you give to people,”
“They are destroying our business in the short term and to the future. The effect of that on the economy is that our taxes are going to go down because our sales is declining, employment is going to suffer because as our volumes decline we don’t have a choice but to reduce the workforce,” Stephen Badu said.
It is this that ensured the marriage between GTP and mPedigree, Mr Badu said. Apparently the marriage had become so successful the two decided to adopt a campaign dubbed GTB Oga Consumer Protection which is to make consumers verify at the point of consumers.
According to the marketing manager the deployment of the mPedigree has saved GTP from a slippery road to collapse, just like the many stories of textile industry collapse.
“This year in particular has been difficult year for our industry where sales is not too good but we have got a particular line called the GTP nustyle. As we speak today we are about 12 per cent above our target for the year.
“We believe but for mPedigree we don’t think we could have been able to match our target. We think this has contributed to such a performance, he added.
Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Nathan Gadugah