For many African entrepreneurs expanding their dream to a global scale is a dream come true. Emmanuel Ampadu, Pure and Just Company Limited’s co-founder, is living that dream.
His company, which prides itself on being a women-led, youth-led and climate-smart agro-processing company that transforms tropical fruits into dry fruits snacks, branded as Yvaya Farm, not only supplies dried fruits in Ghana but also in Nigeria, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and in international airlines that include United Airlines, Delta Airlines and Emirates. In Japan, the company is the first Ghanaian dried-fruit company to venture into the market.
“My inspiration to venture into this business started from a college after winning a grant that allowed me to support farmers in the local community. Through this process, I realised the farmers did not have a market for their produce, so I decided to help them add value to it. This was when I and some partners started drying the farmer’s pineapples and selling them as organic snacks. After school, I met Yvette, who was in the business of drying mangoes. We merged our two businesses and started Pure and Just Company Ltd. She is the CEO, and I am the COO managing operations. And as the saying goes, the rest is history,” Emmanuel.
As is common in entrepreneurship, growing a business is not a walk in the park. Most African businesses, just like Emmanuel’s, have to circumnavigate external challenges such as high taxes and poor infrastructure hardships. Unique to his business, climate change is critical as it affects the seasonality of fruits. Capacity is also a challenge as the demand for dried fruits within the international market is high.
“We joined the GrowthAfrica Acceleration Programme to help us understand how best to restructure our business and make us investment ready. With adequate knowledge gained, we are currently fundraising to build a large facility on a 100-acre mango farm that will help us export at least one container of dried food every month,” added Emmanuel.
Data is king. A concept that Emmanuel has understood and appreciated for years. To help him make business decisions, he records every business detail and reviews the data to help build strategies.
“Every entrepreneur needs to collect and analyse data. Data helps you make informed decisions instead of emotional ones. For example, we collect data such as when a tree was planted, how long it took to mature, when fruits were harvested, washed and processed…to when it was delivered for export. This data has helped us go international, as the export market is keenly interested in this information. This data also made us realise that we did not need to buy a power generator due to frequent power cuts, as they were not too disruptive to ruin our produce; we have channelled these resources to other business areas, “Emmanuel said.
For businesses looking to go international, Emmanuel advices that;
- Be true to yourself– integrity and honesty in business matters. Know your limits and understand your capacity. Do not focus on the money; understand that when your business goes international, you represent your country and open doors for other businesses.
- Internal processes – ensure your internal processes are okay and documents such as your certification are in order. When exporting your products, the international markets are keen on quality. You need to be doing what you say you are doing and be transparent about it.
- Your story – be able to have a good, compelling story and do not just say it but live it. A compelling story will set you apart from your competitors and make you unique.
- Accountability – have advisors who have been through the mill. Sometimes entrepreneurs think that they are their own bosses and that they can do anything that they want. We learnt that advisors are great as they help you in the journey, check up on you, and help you chart a way forward.