CAMFED Association member and entrepreneur, Ghana
My name is Mabruka and I come from the Upper West Region of Ghana. Growing up wasn’t easy. I lost my dad when I was in junior high school. He was the main breadwinner of the family and my mom worked as a petty trader. She wanted the best for me, and always said that whatever it would take for her to afford my school going costs, she would do it. So I completed school successfully in 2013, and then I made it to senior high school.
Things continued to be tough for us, as my mom had five children to take care of. Then, in my first year of senior high school, I was selected for CAMFED support. They took care of my needs, paid my school fees, paid for my books, pens, even sanitary pads. As a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at CAMFED Ghana I was able to continue to tertiary level. I secured my place at the University of Ghana to read Education and Information Studies.
In this country there are so many unemployed young people, so when I started university I was already thinking of business ideas. I didn’t want to complete my studies and find myself without opportunities, and getting into entrepreneurship also meant I could pursue something I was really passionate about.
I started my groundnut processing business, called Influx Groundnuts Products, in January 2019, producing oil, chutney powder, cookies and other snacks. A friend told me about a business competition, which would be awarding promising start-ups with capital. At that stage I didn’t have a proposal, but I did my research and worked hard on my pitch. At the end, mine was one of eight successful businesses, getting recognition in the People’s Choice Award category and as the Overall Winner. With the help of this grant from Golden Palm Investments and another from the Student Representative Council of the University of Ghana, plus some personal savings, I was able to get my enterprise off the ground.
I was just in the process of applying for certification through the Food and Drugs Authority when the COVID-19 pandemic started. It meant that I had a lot of time away from school, so I decided to use the period productively. Because of changing demands in my customer base, I chose to start marketing a range of new products including shea butter, black soap, moringa powder, coconut oil, cocoa butter and honey. Then, using social media and my networks, I spread the word as widely as I could.
Soon, through a partnership with Jetstream, a shipping and logistics agency in Tema, I was able to start exporting to countries including Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Eventually I’m hoping to get my products into every single country in the world!
By 2022 – thanks to a grant from the Mastercard Foundation-CAMFED Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund and the hard work of my team – I was operating on a 30 acre farm in Wa East district, where we grow the groundnuts that are our raw product for the food side of the business. Through this and the cosmetics branch of the business, I could employ 12 permanent workers of which eight were female, as well as 25 temporary workers of which 20 were female. An example is the leader of the shea nut processing, who cares for her late brother’s three children, in addition to her own six children. My business has created a source of income for her, so she’s able to feed her whole family.
I have established a corporate social responsibility initiative, that I call the Influx Foundation, to give back to the community. In June 2021, I donated desktop computers to a junior high school near to where my farm is. The aim of the support is to expose students in deprived communities in the Upper West region to the evolving technological world. I also support people around me, including teenage mothers, with technical and vocational skills like baking and dressmaking. With the majority of my employees being women, I want to see an increase in women’s empowerment and participation in agriculture.
I also want to inspire young people to consider agriculture as a viable career option. Many see agriculture as something for the old and they associate it with a tough existence. Through the Influx Foundation, I am helping youths – mainly young women – by providing groundnut seedlings, by plowing the land for them, and by offering mentorship and skills training. That way they will see agriculture as something exciting and see their efforts bear fruits.
Being a member of the CAMFED Association has really helped me a lot. I’ve met a lot of like-minded individuals and I’ve also been able to collaborate on new projects and business ideas. I’ve attended several programs organized by CAMFED that have really impacted me. For example, in 2017, I participated in an induction session in Kumasi, where I learnt about how to manage your time and your budget. Then in 2019 I joined some training in Komenda through the Transition Program and learned how to do bookkeeping, how to manage risks in businesses, how to manage stress, and how to look after and retain customers. Through the sisterhood I’ve also made a lot of friends – with young women I really want to follow and work alongside.
To be successful in life you really need to be determined. You have to be committed to what you are doing, you have to be honest and you have to have a high level of integrity. To be successful in business you also need to be innovative and creative because other people are going to have similar business ideas. So work on your product, your branding, and try to stand out.
Effective communication has also been important to me, to help keep my team engaged on our weekly objectives and help us finish our stocks ahead of time. I always have that zeal for taking on new projects or challenges!
My biggest achievement in life is that I’ve been able to create a business idea, nurture it, and grow it. I’m proud that it’s served as a source of employment and income for people in my community. It was because of that that I received recognition from the Young Africa Chief Executive Directors Network in 2019 for exemplary works and contribution to the economic development of Africa.