I have been motivated to write this article due to the uproar that has been generated by John Dumelo’s Instagram post about a university graduate hawking bread in traffic.
The post practically sounded out the young man as a failure of Ghana’s university system. This young man who has later been identified as Kwaku Vito Boateng is apparently CEO of a Kumasi-based company with some thriving bakery brands in the metropolis; Auntie Mary and A1.
The young entrepreneur in his quest to break the Accra market with his A1 brand of cake bread decided to join his team to hawk the bread on the streets of Accra and the rest is history.
It’s easy to descend on John for unconsciously denigrating or for inadvertently looking down on a young man’s hustle but his comment is only symptomatic of our society’s entitlement culture.
In Ghana, we assume that by virtue of our qualifications, certain jobs are above us; we believe we are entitled to some 8-5 job in a reputable company with swanky offices.
We look down on people who attempt to trudge the hard path of entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, many Ghanaians easily do all sort of jobs abroad to survive or until they find their feet.
In as much as my parents provided practically everything I needed when I was at the polytechnic, some mates and I used to hawk all sort of products imported by a certain business man for a commission; from some damp matches we couldn’t sell at Makola to some very good cleaning detergents we sold to some hotels. Whilst studying for my Chartered Marketing qualifications in England, I did all sort of jobs; from operating a turnstile at Upton Park on match days for West Ham United to doing night shifts even though most of my lectures were in the morning. During my MBA days at legon, my mum’s friend used to make beads and I bought from her in bulk and sold through a friend in the Millionaires Casino at Golden Tulip.
One of man’s most important assets is self-worth; once you have that immense self-belief, you do whatever you want to do with your head held up high.
In my opinion, one of the strongest militating factors against entrepreneurship in Ghana but which is largely undocumented is pressure from family and friends; the psychological pressure for individuals to abandon their dream and find a “proper” job that conforms to society’s standards in order to fit in.
A very good friend of mine left the corporate world to manage Jaarno; an online foodstuff shop on full time basis and in as much as he does not enjoy big bonuses and the comfort of the corporate world anymore, he’s motivated to trudge the difficult path of entrepreneurship and leave his own trail. He, like Mr. Boateng, Tony Senayah of Horseman shoes, Mabel Simpsom of mSimps, Asabea Ayisi of Asabea Ayisi, Derrydean Dadzie of DreamOval and many others are following their dreams.
The spontaneous effusion of support for Mr. Boateng is an indication that society is probably changing and starting to respect the hustle of people. In as much as there might be certain undercurrents driving the reaction, you cannot fail but notice that our society is becoming more welcoming of entrepreneurs.
This might be comforting for many young people who are nurturing the ambition of embarking on the tedious and lonely journey of entrepreneurship.
Nana Yaw Kesse