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Deborah Oduro | Ghana | Process Your Ideas!

I wasn’t born with honey in my mouth so I try to make the best out of whatever opportunity life throws my way. I always try to see something positive in the negative. Right from senior high school, I went into nursing and started working until my love for humanity started knocking at the walls of my heart. I was confused as to what was happening to me and what to do because my parents were both in the military and my mother was firm at decision making. Moving forward, I ended quitting my nursing career to pursue a philanthropic dream. To validate my pursuit (starting my NGO) - financially, a colleague back in school assisted me to secure a job in her auntie's shop in Okaishie (one of Ghana’s biggest marketplace) - as a sales assistant drawing in 200GHC as my salary. Later on, I was promoted to Head of Marketing, then to an Accountant and finally a Branch Manager with a better salary. With little financial support and money saved up, I was able to step out to follow my dreams - developing various Startups to support my NGO. This initiative opened up opportunities for me - networking or meeting stakeholders to create few innovative ideas along the way (entrepreneurial journey). Have you ever been in position where you had to choose between going hungry just to ensure the needy had enough to eat and wear? I was in that position sometime back and I was glad I chose to stand with the needy and my vision. However, if you were wondering I later did gathered up the courage and left my awesome job as a Branch Manager to stand with the needy - (in Ghana). Some of my entrepreneurial ideas or projects I was involved in - merchandising, selling baby stuffs like clothes etc, baking cakes and catering. Example was my favourite Shito (pepper - a Ghanaian homemade hot sauce) which is currently doing very well or amazing. And finally, my ushering company (events management) and advertising agencies. Embracing my journey, I was blessed with a scholarship to enroll into Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program at GIMPA. That also opened up few chapters for me along the way. I am currently recording my maiden edition of an entrepreneurship/humanitarian talkshow to inspire the youth and also pave way for potential investors to help upcoming young business minded entrepreneurs.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

Since I didn't have marketing background or education, I had insufficient knowledge in that space - that stifle our or my way of approaching or securing sponsorships deals and investors on most projects. Therefore, I am currently adopting and learning new ways and means to market and reach out to stakeholders. In Ghana, the challenges or hurdles are unique - speaking of Startups or new businesses. Not everyone or stakeholder is willingly to assist you financially therefore raising seed money for your first venture is difficult. This is from my own speculation, on a scale of 10%; only 2% is willingly to help you with advisory role, financing and mentoring. Others might also want to take advantage of you, but I was raised with iron hands so I don’t fall as a victim. Money is always a problem for Startups like mine but thank God for great friends and genuine support system from my family.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

*Rich dad, poor dad

*Things every entrepreneur must know

*Unlock your potential

* Think like an entrepreneur

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it?

I do have an amazing support system like family, especially my brother who always encourages me to do my best. My elder sister assists financially too when the need arises. By God’s grace, I have support from great friends like my manager James Abdul who is always available to assist me with his equipments and help me with my contents. My clothes are being sponsored by my mum and my fashion designer Jblack clothing. My daddy often invests in my business when the need arise. Abraham Tackie assists with graphics and photography etc. Most names I can't remember or mention - example Wilbur Ocancey, Louisa Attiogbe, Jemima Mensah all helped me build my brand. Not forgetting Kobi Hemaa, Osisiadan-Bekoe who taught me Emcee-ing and events management. Akosua Ntiriwaa Anti who gave me my first MC gig during her training session, motivated me to rise above the odds. My mentors Abeiku Santana and Akua Amoakowaa, Mrs Gloria Poku-Adusei who took me under wings, helped in my transformation.

What would you do differently in hindsight?

I would have loved to pursue a degree and became an attorney, that way I can defend individuals who need justice.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

MY PASSION. I have a high level of positive thinking that even when all hope is lost, I see light sparkling. When everyone is saying stop, I stay consistent and determined. I believe there is nothing impossible, you just have to be focus minded and work hard.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

It’s okay to accept failure as part of the process. As you embrace it, you learn from the mistakes and change a bad step into a good, successful step.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Believe in yourself and process your ideas by nurturing it as you pen down your goals. A lot of people will tell you that you CAN NOT do it, but don’t be discouraged. Once you dream it, believe it and you can live it. Find a mentor and learn hands - on the business you want to invest in. Most importantly, work hard and save towards your dreams. Be a GOAL-GETTER. Learn to be patient as the business grows and with persistency you shall be successful.

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