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Reference no. 1-15-007
Published by:
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT (2015)
22 May 2015
23 pages
Data source:
Field research
Abstract: LaGray Chemical Company was established in Ghana by chemists Dr Alexandra Graham and Dr Paul Lartey. Living and working in the United States, they had two long-term goals: (1) to return to Ghana and found a pharmaceutical manufacturing company that would provide the people of Africa with affordable drugs, and (2) to give the people of Ghana and other African countries skills that would allow them to be more self-sufficient in drug manufacturing. It examines the problems they faced in establishing a sophisticated manufacturing process in an ecology that is not necessarily conducive to it. It also looks at the possibility they may have pursued pharmaceuticals because of their backgrounds without necessarily exploring possibly better entrepreneurial opportunities in West Africa. The case describes the challenges Graham and Lartey faced in getting drug approval, retaining young employees, and dealing with infrastructure issues, as well as their difficulties in obtaining financing and the conflict between the goals of their funders and themselves.
Learning objectives:
1. Manufacturing pharmaceuticals in a low-income country can be an economic opportunity for entrepreneurs: a large local market exists; there is a scarcity of high-quality manufactures. This case may reflect situations faced in many low-income countries. 2. Domestically manufactured pharmaceuticals can potentially contribute to the economic progress of a low-income country by: improved public health, lower drug costs, job opportunities, skills development and transfer, and savings in foreign exchange. 3. Two chemists returned to Ghana after developing professional qualifications in the U.S. Their origins provided the passion to give back to their homeland; their careers contributed skills and financial security. Students need to understand this. 4. How the inescapable twists and turns in acquiring funding point to the need for careful planning ahead of time. The problems of establishing a sophisticated manufacturing process in an ecology that is not necessarily conducive to it.
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