Over GHC2 million worth of goods and services were traded at the 2017 edition of the Greater Works Conference which ended late July. Held by the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) at the precincts of the Independence Square, Accra, the annual conference was aimed at bringing Christians together for the renewal of faith, among others.
The Greater Works Conference is arguably the biggest gathering of Christians in Ghana. This year’s edition recorded a crowd size of 150,000 people according to figures from organizers.
As is often noted during such gatherings, small and medium sized businesses – petty traders, and service providers always take advantage to make a double by offering their services. This year’s was no exception as they cashed in on the event which has become very prominent on the Ghanaian Christian calendar.
The event has also become a strategic marketing point for entrepreneurs and businessmen who use the occasion to introduce or sample out their products or services for the market. This is due to the diverse crowd with varied age groups.
As participants troop in from all walks of life to the Independence Square for the life changing experience and for the redemption of their souls, the commercially inclined and business minded people saw the gathering as one big market place ripe for business.
Breakdown of crowd size
According to the organizers, this year’s event recorded the largest crowd ever; more than twice that of last year, which was estimated at about 30, 000 on the last day of the five day event. However, the recorded attendance for the first day of the 2017 event was in excess of 30,000.
Our information further indicated that the crowd increased as the days went by. By Friday, the day of the climax, the crowd size had almost doubled to 70,000.
Taking advantage of the market
Hundreds of traders and service providers including transportation service providers lined up at the edges of all the streets leading to and from the Independence Square. They had anticipated the needs of the crowd and had adequately prepared to meet them ‘at the point of their needs’. Taxi and trotro drivers had a field day as they busily transported people to and fro the event grounds. The sophisticated among the people patronized the services of Uber.
In fact, everywhere apart from the main perimeters of the event grounds itself was a potential market place during the course of the conference. Since demand outstripped the supply of goods and services, the prices assumed about 10% increase above the normal prices.
About 70% of traders at the event were food and beverage vendors who offered all kinds of packaged local and exotic dishes ranging from fried rice to banku and tilapia, kenkey, fried yam, plantain and potato chips among others. The beverages ranged from mineral water, sobolo, and natural fruit drinks as well as carbonated soft drinks and many more.
There were also sellers of various motivational books and CDs of the conference speakers and other prominent Christian book authors across the world.
Sampled views of vendors
When BusinessWeek sampled views of some of the vendors and traders, it was gathered that this year’s event has been very beneficial to them because the crowd was very massive and surpassed what they had imagined.
Sitsope Amenyedzi, a banku and tilapia seller told our reporters that her food always got finished before the end of the program. “As for the last day, I could not handle the crowd. They wanted more but my fish was finished. The rain on that day worried me but I still made money.”
A book vendor at the event, Papa Jerry, was amazed at the patronage of the event this year. “I have always been present at Greater Works all these years, but this time around I think there was something different about the whole thing and business was very good. I sold plenty,” he stated.
According to Abigail Naa Ayerley, a doughnut vendor, she couldn’t have asked for more. “I am very satisfied with the turn of events this year. Sales were generally very good. There was no single day I didn’t have more demand of my doughnut than I had fried. Both day and night services have been good for me. In fact I wished every day is Greater Works Conference.”
Prince Agnab, who was into roasted meat popularly known as khebab or “tsintsinga” was also of the view that such an event should happen more often.
The business sense
This should be a wakeup call to the state authorities, the Church authorities and entrepreneurs to put structures in place to harness the full economic potential of such outdoor events and informal gatherings.
For the church, a more structured process can be put in place to ensure that the congregation is well sorted out in regards to food, water and beverages. Because most of the time, the safety and the wholesomeness of the food items offered at such gatherings cannot be vouched for. Mostly, people are vulnerable and are left with very little choice to make. For instance, the vendors of food items could be certified ahead of time and given a special kind of code or sticker that could be identified by patrons at the events. This special identification coding could be announced to the congregation ahead of time or on the grounds of the event to help patrons make secured choices.
This development presents a case for a very convenient place for holding such big events that brings about the gathering of so many people at a single venue. This is where entrepreneurs come in handy. There is no doubt that there is a business case to be made in the scenario painted in the gathering of over 150,000 people with a lot of money in the pocket to spend.
If there is such a structure that can guarantee security and safety of such large numbers of people in a structured environment, then more event organizers would be pulling off of big events that would trigger a chain of economic events that would be beneficial to many people including the entrepreneur.
As for the state authorities, it may be an opportunity to maximize revenue collection by ensuring that traders and other service providers cashing in on such events comply with the rules by contributing their quota to the maintenance of the state according to law, which means that authorities must be ready to provide their part of the responsibility of providing the needed protection required from the state.
The Greater Works
The Greater Works Conference is one of the flagship programs of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), led by its influential pastor, Rev. Dr. Mensah Otabil. The event marks the end of mid-year fasting period that lasts for 30 days between the 1st to the last day of July.
The conference brings about the gathering of Christians from all over the country and surrounding countries in the sub-region to be addressed by very prominent African speakers carefully drawn from in and outside the continent.
This year’s conference welcomed the maiden appearance of the internationally known Nigerian Pastor, Rev. Professor Enock Adejare Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Also present was another very popular UK based Nigerian Pastor, Rev. Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, the founder and General Overseer of the Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC).
The others include the Presiding Bishop of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) in Nigeria, Bishop Mike Okwonko, and Rev. Pastor Tudor Bismark from Zimbabwe, the Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church in the capital, Harare.
By Clement Akoloh