My name is Appeagyei Osafo Frederick. I am a final year undergraduate at the University of Ghana reading Political Science and Spanish as a combined major. I currently live in Accra, Ghana. My entrepreneurial journey, I would say has not been without some challenges. However, I learned these two lessons. The first lesson is that being innovative can be simple and the second is that, business is not just making profits; it is also about service to others. I do not aim only at making profits; I want to make an impact in my community, country and Africa at large. This is under wraps but, let me share this. I have plans to shift from being a regular profit-making enterprise to being a social enterprise as soon as the president assents the social enterprise act.
Mostly profited generated will go toward impacting the society on a larger scale via agriculture. I was functioning as an informal business advisor for my friends for a while. Many student-owned businesses I can say were birthed because of the advice I gave my friends. However, I had nothing physical to show as proof for the knowledge I gave out freely. I sought out to find an idea of my own and after days of sleeplessness and soul searching. I decided firmly that, I wanted to sell Shito, but in a better way. I plan to make Shito a worldwide phenomenon in the next few years. Shito means pepper in Ga, a Ghanaian language from Ghana. Even though, the word for pepper is different for each of the Ghanaian native languages, 'Shito', is widely used as the name for the hot black pepper sauce mostly in every Ghanaian cuisine. Back to the story, the idea to sell Shito sounded quite hilarious to my colleagues and friends as many thought it was a female-dominated field and my business would not survive the first month. Instead of listening to them and allowing their negative notions to get the best of me, I did broader consultations, read extensively and developed my very own recipe. Now I can say with no doubt that, I am an inspiration for my peers and some of them have gone the extent of submitting letters for future employment in my company. I never studied any business-related course nor did I hanged around geniuses or big guns in the business world. I did not get a million dollars as capital. All it took was an idea, the will and determination to bring the idea into a reality : King Chek Enterprise - production and sale of Cheko Shito (Shrimp Based Chilli Sauce).
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
My biggest initial hurdle was how to position my brand strategically to satisfy customers in the best possible way. It was truly very challenging especially because I did not have much capital for my business. I quickly enrolled in an entrepreneurial class and employed the services of a brand expert as well to help overcome that problem.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Currently, I am reading The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries, The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris and The Entrepreneur Mind by Kevin D Johnson. These are powerful books, I believe that should be on the virtual or physical shelve of any business-minded youth.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My relationship with family and friends suffered to an extent because of my journey. Found myself having less time for them. It was a worthy sacrifice to make but I have been able to manage it well now. I had to improve my time management skills to satisfy both aspects of my life.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I would say the most influential factor in the success of my business is my obsession with the utmost satisfaction of my customers, my hunger for knowledge and constant improvement and strict adherence to deadlines.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Growing up, the notion out there that easily slipped through our minds was that one needed money to be successful. However, it is not so. You need a lot more than just money to survive in such a competitive world. I would say you need, character, the will to serve and good interpersonal relationships with everyone especially your customers. Time is expensive, every second counts. I wish I knew that earlier.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
My advice to the upcoming entrepreneur is that you do not always need some fancy degree or a special ability to pursue your business idea. Remember the lesson I shared earlier, “Innovation can be very simple, just put your mind to it”. Also, just educate and prepare yourself adequately on your chosen field, stay disciplined and go for it. Nothing is impossible. Finally, do not stop learning.