The Ghanaian Bill Gates

One of the Tech geniuses representing Africa on the International stage



Is there any other ‘Bill Gates’ besides the Bill Gates? Maybe. Possibly. Or perhaps Ghanaians think there is.

So if there is another ‘Bill Gates’ that is very much different from our famed philanthropist and Microsoft founder, who is he?

Well, he is none other than tech entrepreneur, Herman Chinery-Hesse who runs the largest software company in Ghana known as SoftTribe. Although, the comparison to the Microsoft founder is based on monetary status, cause obviously, he won’t meet up those stats yet.

The comparison though has to do with the fact that, like Mr. Gates, Chinery-Hesse has a keen eye for inventions and leading the tech age in Ghana.

“I am flattered, but I haven’t achieved what Bill Gates has achieved and I certainly don’t run around wearing this on a T-shirt,” he would say of the comparison to the Microsoft founder and the flattering nickname, while adding a subtle dig on those who would see him as Mark Zuckerberg.

“It is positive and it motivates younger people, but I certainly don’t have the kind of wealth that Bill Gates has.” He admits.

Of course, there is one thing to be polite, and another to sell yourself short, Chinery-Hesse can boast of giving Ghana its largest software company, like Bill Gates gave the world Microsoft. It is quite the accomplishment.

The Ghanaian grew up traveling around the world, having been born in the Republic of Ireland in 1963, schooled in America before working in the UK. It can be said he is a well-travelled man and some worth a citizen of the world by such standards.

The Ghanaian Bill Gates

“My parents ended up having international jobs so we lived in Zambia, Sierra Leone, Geneva, Uganda, and Tanzania. I went to high school in Texas, and then to Texas State University, the same alma mater as Lyndon Johnson,” he explained.

Although with a history of travels like he has, it is quite surprising that Chinery-Hesse chose to situate his tech company in Ghana when he could have done that elsewhere for far more recognition. But according to the Ghanaian, it was easier said than done as he laments the lack of opportunities available for Blacks to succeed.

“I didn’t have an option in America,” he lamented in a report with The Guardian.

“I was a black African there; until Obama, we didn’t have a track record of leadership. It would be an uphill battle, whereas in Ghana the sky was the limit.

“Also, I’m African, we need development here and it’s Africans who are going to develop Africa. I felt a sense of responsibility, apart from the fact that I thought I’d have a brighter future here.”

Like in every rags to grace story, Chinery-Hesse moved back to Ghana in 1990 with next to no money to his name but a computer. Together with a friend, he started engaging in the writing of programs and selling them off which ultimately led to the founding of SoftTribe.

Ever since its establishment in 1991, it has grown to become Ghana’s leading software developer. From his little bedroom to an office space, it became a summary of the origin story of SoftTribe.

“I created programs which we sold and we grew very fast. We had to hire more people and soon my bedroom was full.” He revealed.

The Ghanaian Bill Gates

“When my father returned to Ghana and saw people overflowing from the bedroom, he evicted us to the outbuildings where we had an old Kelvinator air conditioner from the sixties that we used for five years. Believe it or not, it never broke,” he added.

The company soon grew that he started providing management system to a number of companies such as Guinness and Unilever.

Chinery-Hesse is named as one of Africa’s Top Tech influencers with the tech genius granted an audience at the University of Oxford, Chatham House and Tech4Africa, and the Harvard Business School.

In March 2019, the tech mogul joined the ranks of the Commonwealth Chair for Business and Technology Initiatives for Africa.

For those searching for a role model in the tech sector, Chinery-Hesse is for sure one to look up to and admire. Perhaps, one day he might measure up to the financial status of Bill Gates to become known instead as Ghana’s Chinery-Hesse.

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