If a question is circulated as to why a lot of people regardless successfully passing their West African Secondary School Certificate Exams, fail to proceed to the next level of the their educational transit, the most prevalent answer would be the absence of financial support. If a similar question is put as to why some others in exception of excessive referral, pull out of school, same response is liable to be given.
Nonetheless, amidst such situations, it takes the character who can really think outside the box to make the difference courtesy his or her ability to transform surrounding problems into valuable opportunities.
A prototype of such smart characters is Samuel Okyere, a level 200 student of Ghana Institute of journalism who manages a fast food joint in conjunction with schooling. In this context, we will hold a dialogue with him to give us an insight in what compelled his difference and how he is able to perform a balancing act between business and school;
What informed your decision to start your own business?
When I gained admission to GIJ, I went through tiring times in terms of financial support. I forecasted the possibility of a time to come where I wouldn’t be able to either pay my fees or afford transportation to school. So I decided to invest the little money I had into something profitable in order not to find myself squander all my savings.
How did you start?
I had a lot of business ideas in mind but I settled on managing a fast food joint due to the scanty capital in hand and the background experience I had acquired in that particular field. I possessed GHC 500.00. I spotted a place in my vicinity that I considered very favourable to do business. It was actually and old joint that had been abandoned by the owner. I traced her and after series of deliberations, she decided to give me her place and other essential equipment at an agreed shared profit. My capital couldn’t cater for equipment so I warmly embraced the fortunate offer and started on a very small note.
What were the challenges?
Because it was a deserted joint, redeeming its image wasn’t that easy. It was also within a Ga community where naturally kenkey would sell than fried rice. All these really discouraged sales from the start. I would cook a sizeable amount for the day and would still have leftovers counted as a loss. So I adopted a strategy to announce myself to some of the guys around and I made sure that they were richly served at a lower cost. I endured the system because I conjectured the long term benefit I would get. After about three months, things started changing gradually. With time, the business took – off and I was able to employ one person to assist me.
Is schooling affecting business?
School is really impacting on active business especially in terms building strong customer relationships. Some customers love to buy from me in person. Not that my employee will not treat them good but that’s the nature of some loyal customers. I’m also not able to give the desired attention to the business because of the divided attention. It’s just like serving two important masters at the same time. You can do your best, but efficiency to all would be lacked.
Is the business affecting academics?
To be honest with you, I spent a lot time at work than in school, due to the demanding nature of the work. Even though I have two employees at the moment, I’m still inclined to skip lectures to put things in order. I sometimes excuse myself at lectures, spend time on phone issuing orders to my employees. This routine caused me a referral in Level 100, but I’m equally working hard to get some passes.
How do you cope with the demands of business and school at the same time?
Combining both really hasn’t been a piece of cake, but the interesting thing is that both are my priority. I longed to be a journalist long ago. The business as well is giving me the financial push to achieve that journalistic goal. It is therefore a must to cope with both beside the hefty demands it brings. That is why I have employed two persons to give me the needed assistance. Unlike then, I now delegate most of my duties to them in the weekdays so that I can focus on the other side as well.
What are your expectations?
It’s my desire to expand the business, open more centres, and extend employment opportunities unto others as well. I don’t want to be just a journalist. I want to develop the capacity to establish my own media house. These are my expectations and I pray for God’s guidance. With God, all things are possible.
What is your advice to your colleagues wallowing in financial problems and teeming unemployment?
I am not blowing my horn but I’m able to save not less than GHC 1, ooo every month aside all expenditures. I have been able to create employment avenues for two people who earn a monthly remuneration of GHC 200 plus food. It all started with just GHC500. Nothing is little if you are determined to make an impact out of it. It doesn’t matter the amount. What matters is the idea, action and sacrifice behind it. Be smart to convert the problems surrounding you into gainful opportunities. Don’t be shy to even hawk and don’t allow the challenges to terminate your focus. Start something of your own. Don’t expect to make it big from the start. Accept the discouraging conditions and be faithful to your God. Remember that nothing good comes easy and a journey of thousand miles begins with a step.
Interesting dialogue up there. I have made my notes and I believe you’ve made yours as well. Put them into practice. Don’t allow that financial setback limit your potentials and targets. Be the difference!
By : Acquah Edward
Ghana Institute Of Journalism