Friday, April 12, 2024

Charity Adubong is Preserving Traditional Ghanaian Foods with Innovative Techniques

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Founder and CEO of Meannan Meals, Charity Adupong, holding a number of the merchandise. Picture: Richard Akakpo, Fowl Story Company

For years, Charity Adupong’s purchasing experiences had been marked with disappointment as she looked for nutritious native meals in main purchasing malls and retail shops. The few that had been on the cabinets lacked enticing packaging.

More and more she realised that a large alternative existed in offering buyers with well-packaged indigenous meals. She determined to faucet into the rising demand.

“I’ve by no means favored the way in which our markets are structured so I used to buy from the place I purchased common native meals like tomatoes, beans… as a teenager who had simply come to Tema as a Nationwide Service Personnel. On a type of events, I purchased Agushie (melon seeds) and I assumed that the packaging was not wanting good so I made a decision that I might do one thing about it and felt that as younger as I used to be I might do higher than what they’d on the store,” Adupong defined, as she strikes round one among three completely different manufacturing facility amenities she now runs.

Solely in her early 20s on the time and a part of a household supported by a single mom, Adupong took issues into her personal arms.

“I went to the store supervisor and instructed him what I might provide him and he agreed and requested me to convey a pattern. The opposite side is that I used to be struggling when it comes to funds and caring for myself. My mom has been supportive however… I assumed I used to be burdening her and so I needed to do one thing to assist myself,” she stated.

“Luckily for me, I used to be working in an organization the place I had recognized a number of graphic designers. I approached one among them with the idea and he designed a really good label for me, did the pattern, despatched it to the store and the remainder is historical past,” she stated, making all of it sound simple. However as with the entrepreneurial journeys of many younger African ladies, the journey was something however simple.

After getting the inexperienced gentle from ShopRite to provide them along with her merchandise, she began elevating funds by saving. She proceeded to register her enterprise and moved to certify her merchandise with the Ghana Requirements Authority, Meals Analysis Institute and the Meals and Medication Authority the place she additionally obtained coaching and capability constructing.

Packaging of merchandise at Meannan Meals in Afienya-Mataheko. Picture: Richard Akakpo, Fowl Story Company

“My pure capacity got here when it comes to the ultimate outlook of the merchandise. I study, I apply and I additionally add the bodily.”

With simply 15 cedis (about US$1.2) to her identify, she rented a store.

“It began from my front room/kitchen after which after a number of months, I realised it wanted extra of my consideration. I used to be not able to stop my job so I discovered a spot nearer to my office in order that I might run in at lunchtime and even within the morning earlier than I started working and after work earlier than I am going house.”

Fortunately, Adupong had some expertise in enterprise earlier than she began what at present is Meannan Meals. She had began out shopping for and promoting second-hand garments and something she might lay her arms on. She needed to attend style college however that dream was truncated as a result of price.

“It was costly so I considered one thing that could possibly be easy and never require a whole lot of capital to begin and transfer to style later however right here I’m at present.”

As she strikes round her manufacturing facility inspecting dried cassava chips unfold on racks and neatly lined with blue nets it’s clear that her sense of aesthetic extends past the packaging on her product labels. The manufacturing facility the place she checks on the workers’ sorting and roasting grains, inspects big sacks of ginger shares and the washing space in addition to the electrical dryer and packaging space earlier than transferring to her govt workplace for an replace from her employees, is all neat as a pin.

The identify “Meannan” got here from Adupong’s indigenous identify and maiden surname and the corporate has grow to be recognized for the face-lifts it has given to Ghanaian indigenous meals. The amenities are situated in Afienya-Mataheko close to Tema within the Ningo-Prampram District of the Better Accra Area.

From her first small steps, CEO and Founder “Maame Ekua Annan” began seeing actual development after successful a grant in 2015, on high of earlier loans from the financial institution. The win coincided with Adupong quitting her job to give attention to Meannan Meals full-time.

An worker branding packages at Meannan Meals. Picture: Richard Akakpo, Fowl Story Company

“I heard a few marketing strategy competitors and utilized for it and went via. They awarded 13 individuals and happily, I used to be among the many first three individuals who had greater quantities. I had £6,000 on the time and that boosted my confidence in attempting to lift funds. However earlier than then, I had taken a mortgage from my bankers twice after a while,” she defined.

Meannan Meals’ vary of merchandise extends from cassava powder, prekese (aidan fruit) powder, ginger powder, Gari, and onion powder to corn grits, with the largest vendor being tombrown – a cereal-based porridge with excessive protein content material and reasonably priced.

“Our goal is kids affected by malnutrition and low-income earners who can’t afford high-priced protein so our porridges are soya-based to assist combat malnutrition in kids and in addition to make it very reasonably priced for folks… We have now numerous forms of tombrowm. We have now millet-based, corn-based and wheat-based. A 500-gram-pack of the Tombrown for 12 cedis (about US$0.94),” she defined.

Suggestions from prospects encourages Adupong and her group to do extra.

“In 2017, I used to be in London for an award and took a number of the merchandise there and shared them with members who got here to the convention and I stored listening to ‘your merchandise look so good. It doesn’t appear like it was coming from Ghana.’ This was one thing I used to listen to in Ghana so going there and listening to it additionally was very encouraging. It provides me the vitality to do extra,” she stated.

Presently with 33 workers, the corporate’s strategic location in Afienya-Mataheko of the Ningo-Prampram District of the Better Accra Area helps in sourcing uncooked supplies from completely different elements of the nation for well timed deliveries.

Workers washing ginger grits at Meannan Meals in Afienya-Mataheko. Picture: Richard Akakpo, Fowl Story Company

Adupong had challenges with fixed provides of uncooked supplies at her earlier location which led to her transferring her amenities to their present places to have quick access to farms and purchase the vast majority of the recent produce on the farm gates.

”I’ve farmers throughout me right here, a lot of the uncooked supplies are simply quarter-hour and half-hour away so typically we go and cart ourselves.”

“Those that come from afar usually are not too far. Some are from the Volta and Jap Areas. So we’re well-positioned to obtain uncooked supplies which is a serious problem for meals processing corporations. The opposite factor is profiling farmers. We have now a whole lot of smallholder farmers that we profile in order that when their produce is prepared, they’ve a prepared market,” she stated.

Quitting her job to give attention to Meannan Meals has paid off for Adupong. She has since additionally received a number of native and worldwide awards, together with the World Girls Innovators “for the work carried out with our porridges on combating malnutrition in kids.

Adupong needs Meannan to grow to be a family identify and for native meals to be simply as enticing as imported meals on cabinets.

Her merchandise are at present discovered in numerous branches of ShopRite, Melcom and different retail outlets out and in of the Better Accra Area.

“Merchandise like prekese, dawadawa powder, in the event you see how they’re carried out, chances are you’ll not need to eat them…, however now they arrive in very good packaging and we have now improved it so much…” she stated.

Joyce Odefo Appiah is the founding father of Ecomog Grocery store in Haatso, Accra, which shares Meannan merchandise. Her store seemed very enticing with packaged meals however stated a superb variety of them are imported as a result of preferences of her prospects.

Appiah believes that severe consideration ought to be paid to creating native packaged meals enticing just like the innovation Adupong is placing in her merchandise to draw larger purchasing malls just like the ShopRites and others.

“For retail outlets to assist made-in-Ghana meals merchandise to extend development, the standard wants to fulfill fashionable requirements. Persons are busy lately so that they’re all the time on the lookout for handy strategies of cooking and consuming nutritious meals,” Appiah stated.

“It feels good to have locally-made merchandise amongst my shares,” she added.

Workers sorting corn grits at Meannan Meals. Picture: Richard Akakpo, Fowl Story Company

Dr. Elisha Ekow Obuom-Sakyi, an area Meals Packing and High quality Skilled who served as a guide for a number of corporations within the processing ecosystem, believes figuring out entrepreneurs like Adupong with revolutionary concepts to equip them with instruments and networks can assist to beat limitations to development and enhance competitiveness, resulting in will increase in native meals packaging and job creation.

“The meals processing business can influence financial development by bringing new merchandise to the market via worth addition to the quite a few pure agro sources that we have now. The introduction of latest meals produce and processing applied sciences will create new market alternatives, create jobs and may entice buyers in our economic system and scale back the stress on our native forex,” Obuom-Sakyi stated.

He urged a tailored scholarship system, whereby individuals with wonderful concepts and revolutionary initiatives are awarded to be skilled and are available again to influence the economic system.

Adupong believes the larger image for entrepreneurs within the meals processing sector lies proper in Ghana, particularly being a quickly rising middle-income nation experiencing weight loss plan modifications.

“We have now had our challenges; issues fell misplaced because of COVID-19 impacts however final 12 months (2023) was nice. Our income elevated by 45%.”

Being a mom and lady whose journey was diverted because of monetary struggles, gender performed a task within the success of her meals enterprise.

“Naturally in our tradition, it’s ladies who prepare dinner and run the house so it’s simple for me to know what works and what doesn’t work. That’s to my benefit. I do know a number of males within the enterprise who come to me for concepts anytime they need to develop a product,” Adupong stated.

She has through the years invested in state-of-the-art machines and know-how in each step of the corporate’s manufacturing to make sure world-standard packaging that may compete with imported merchandise.

For Adupong, a rise in demand for domestically packaged meals interprets to real-time development within the economic system, job creation and the trail to financial freedom for households.

“The employees right here have at the very least one dependent and a few at the very least 4 and so they all assist their households with the earnings they get from Meannan Meals. We have now a capability of a few tonne to 3 tonnes per day. However relying in the marketplace demand we are able to do 500 kilograms to a few tonne relying on the product,” she stated.

Story credit score: Sefakor Fekpe for Fowl Story Company

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