Although Kevin Okyere was born into wealth, he started hustling at a young age, the experience which formed the foundation for his business success.
In Africa, no matter how much capital one has, the harsh reality of the entrepreneurial scene, particularly in Ghana, could cripple any business venture. Kevin surmounted the odds and came out unscathed.
With determination and resilience, he started and grew multiple businesses that eventually formed the Springfield group. The company controls an 82% interest in the Tano Basin block, spanning 673 square kilometres in the Gulf of Guinea.
Kevin Okyere was born in 1980 in Ghana’s gold-rich, Ashanti region to a wealthy family. Before becoming a traditional chief, his father made a fortune in construction, steel manufacture, and large-scale cocoa planting.
At age 11, he sold iced drinks to football fans at the Kumasi Sports Stadium. Also, during the family’s yearly summer vacations in London, he works for some textile companies.
“Our family house was not too far from the stadium. I would often put water in our chest freezers at home and then sell the iced water to the supporters watching the games in the Stadium,” he said.
“Everyone used to call me Eddie Murphy in reference to the movie ‘Coming To America’. The film was quite recent in Ghana at the time. They wondered why I was working when my father was wealthy.”
After high school, he moved to the United States and attended George Mason University in Virginia, where he studied accounting.
He combined his study with different jobs – caring for mentally challenged people in their homes, working as a security guard, and working in the AOL mailroom at one time.
He later worked as a radio programmer for Sirius XM Holdings (previously known as XM Satellite Radio) and with Sprint in the customer support department.
According to him, he did any “legitimate that could earn me money.”
Before graduation, he secured a job at one of the largest commercial banks in the United States. However, he returned to Ghana even with an attractive $72,000 a year offer.
After working with his sister for a year, Kevin Okyere founded Westland Alliance Ltd. It was a telecommunications firm that renders international call routing services for AT&T and many global calling card providers.
However, he got tired of the business. He said, “The company was doing very well, but there was a lot of uncertainty with our core business: the call routing. My contracts with our clients were revisited every year.”
“I realised that my destiny was in the hand of my clients, who reserved the right to terminate my contract.
Also, I couldn’t own a mobile telecom company because the license alone cost hundreds of millions of dollars. I started planning my exit and looking for the next ample opportunity.”
The genesis of Springfield Group
Kevin Okyere founded Springfield Energy in 2008 after spotting an opportunity for an independent local firm in Ghana’s oil and gas sector. He seized the moment, and the rest is history.
Since then, Springfield has become one of Ghana’s most prominent energy players.
In 2006, Okere juggled operating Westland Alliance with supplying crude oil and condensates to the Tema refinery with a business associate. Through this, he discovered a shortage of petroleum storage facilities in Tema, a city on the Bight of Benin and the Atlantic coast of Ghana.
Again, he maximised the opportunity. Okyere used the money he gained from his telecommunication business to buy land near the refinery in Tema and established a storage tank farm.
This move served as the starting point of Springfield Energy’s main trading operation. Since then, the company has been importing refined petroleum products to Ghana, such as gasoline, dual-purpose kerosene, gas oil, naphtha, and jet fuel.
The birth of Springfield Ashburton in Nigeria
Kevin Okyere is a visionary and a driven entrepreneur with an eye for golden opportunities. In 2011, Okyere and his partner, Geena Malkani, visited Nigeria to examine the downstream potential to extend their business outside Ghana.
He founded a new firm, Springfield Ashburton, and applied to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to be part of the international corporations competing for lucrative crude oil lifting contracts.
However, the approval did not come until 2014. The company was included in the 2014/2015 Crude Oil Term Contract. This was three years after the incorporation of Springfield Ashburton Nigeria and working with BP PLC.
Springfield sets the stone as the first Ghanaian company to be awarded a long-term oil deal in Nigeria. It’s also the first and only independent Ghanaian company to be given an oil block in Ghana.
Springfield Ashburton is the sole Ghanaian firm active in energy-related trading in Nigeria to date.
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