Meet Luca Beneventi, Vice President of the Italian Business Association of Ghana (IBAG) and Personality for March 2020. We hope this article inspires you.
At 39years old, Luca’s day job is in championing the merchandising of Italian tiles for Ceramiche Marca Corona, one of the oldest ceramic tile manufacturers in Italy. Luca was born in Sassuolo- the Italian capital for ceramic tiles. Luca’s grandfather and father before him both worked in tile factories, it is therefore safe to say that the ‘barbottina’ which is the tile batter runs in Luca’s veins.
For a decade now, European tiles have seen a shift from being perceived as a mere commodity to being recognized as an architectural product with an intrinsic design value. Luca aspires to legitimize this new appreciation across Sub-Saharan Africa. He has been leading the charge in exploring the sales potential of Italian tiles to Africa since 2015. In 2019, Marca Corona saw a turnover of well over 1,000,000 Euros in Africa; an achievement and revenue stream that has been extremely rewarding and satisfying to Luca.
Growing up, Luca’s family vacationed in the Alpes, the Trentino region of Italy during Summer breaks. They had a family friend – a geologist, an avid reader and a naturalist – Pino Ligabue, who Luca describes as being a genuine charm. Pino taught Luca the importance of observation as a scientific process: from recognizing small fossil finds on mountain trails to using the position of the moss on the bark of a larch tree to determine North. Pino also introduced Luca to the novel “Fontamara” of Ignazio Silone. Specifically, the novel’s attention to the condition of the rural class, highlighting the seasonal duties of the farmer in the scheme of wealth inequality with the professional class who reside in cities. These are themes that Luca experienced firsthand fifteen years later during his fieldwork in the Upper West Region of Ghana.
Luca is an avid reader. He is currently reading “Men Without Women” by the Japanese author Haruki Murakami as well as “Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800” by the American historian John Thornton. His other passions include cooking and photography. As a teenager, Luca dreamt of electric guitars and moving to Seattle, Washington to play Grunge music. Nonetheless, mastering the skill of playing Eugeene Trick Bag still remains his dream.
Sunsets in the Upper West region as captured by Luca
Luca has a family in Tanchara, a village in the Upper West region where he stayed to conduct Anthropological Research in 2005. During this period, he had the pleasure to be culturally immersed in the language and customs of the Dagara.
In business, Luca isn’t dissuaded by the apparent competition in imported tiles. The premium quality and environmentally friendly nature of his products, he believes speak for themselves. In his own words, the competitive market simply encourages him to raise the bar in customer service delivery. Luca loves his job, especially, the perk of traveling across Africa to meet and interact with architects that are designing the cities of the future. As a result, he has picked up a passion for staying abreast with new concepts in the interior design industry. However, Luca is deeply concerned with what he describes as ‘the uncontrolled process of urbanization’ that alienates beauty and relegates nature to almost a past memory. He believes that it is a scary, spiraling process that goes hand in hand with the constant search for cheaper alternatives in building materials. This he believes comes with a huge cost to the environment as well as the socioeconomic well-being of the people living within such zones.
Luca’s biggest business lesson in his own words … ‘We need to do a bit of reverse psychology: after I secured my first tile supply project in Accra, my then sales director told me that that was the only project I would ever get in Africa…. From an extremely narrow point of view from a sales director based in an industrial city in the north of Italy, Sub-Saharan African was nothing more than a dump site for inferior grade items for an extremely poor populace… I proved him wrong. From that episode I developed the tendency to remain truthful to my intuition regardless of previous experiences of others’.
IBAG – Italian Business Association of Ghana
Luca’s drive for IBAG is to positively impact the internal structure of the association; ensuring that it meets its raison d’être with regards to its calendar of events, as well as ensuring the smooth running of the day to day activities. IBAG holds free monthly business talks to create awareness on relevant business- related topics allowing members to directly get in touch with decision makers. Luca is convinced that this knowledge and interactions are vital to everyone doing business in Ghana. IBAG also celebrates Italian culture which ensures an appreciation of Italy in Ghana and promotes a sense of belonging among the Italian expatriates. Luca aspires for the association to convert into the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Ghana as soon as the bureaucratic nature of the process permits. This change of status and recognition has been long overdue over years of activities and genuine commitments to bilateral trade.