My name is Shirley Lekey, nee Obromah; my middle name should have been Sika. If you know my mum, you would understand that the ‘’ the apple does not fall far from the tree”. I grew up seeing my mum work hard for every pesewa, my mum sold cosmetics and wax print, I mean the GTP, Printex, HItarget etc. She would travel to Togo, Benin and Abidjan to buy these good on wholesale.
I am told my maternal grandmother did same. In fact Shop #12 at Market Circle was where my grandmother sold her wares, my mum sold her there too. Recently, it been rented to someone and don’t be surprised to see me selling same in 2034. In my primary school days, my mum will put wares on my little head to sell. I sold from pure water, soap, detergents and cosmetics. It was fun going out to sell at the seaside at European Town in Sekondi, Anafo, Bungrowase and the lorry park too. It was necessary to go out and sell, my mum was a single parent.
I am telling you all this so you understand why I love business so much. In 2012 I bought jewelry worth Ghc200 and sold to my colleague in my office, in no timeGhc200 became Ghc1000. I have sold shoes, bags, clothes, jewelry etc, I even sold toffees.
In those days, when I didn’t have a car, my husband’s booth was my shop. I won’t lie, Selling was my motivation to go to church, some of my high paid customers were in church, so I would gladly go and almost immediately after church I would sell my wares. (My husband would wait for me to finish selling amidst protest). Business was good. Those were the days the dollar and pound sterling were much friendly.
I would buy from Newlook, Primark, Atmosphere, Amazon and many other online shops.
After many years of my retail business, I felt very ready to go to the next level. There in 2017, I committed about Ghc10,000 of my saving into opening a mini mart in a prime location (so I thought), 60% of my capital went into renting a shop and the rest in buying a refrigerator and stock. I put my mum in charge of the daily running of the shop. My mum did a wonderful job. In no time, my shop was full but business was slower than I anticipated and I was committed to growing my business.
Herr, entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted! In no time, utility bills started coming in, that prepaid meter from ECG, sorry PDS is a killer, credit never last a week, and when you manage to buy too DUMSOR shows up! I mean I am running a mini mart, electricity is pivotal, yet DUMSOR can last the whole day and I won’t make sales, who wants a warm drink on a hot sunny day?
Then the local revenue collection authority was on my neck! Their revenue collectors will visit my shop on a weekly basis “demanding” payment for operating a shop, their fee was on an annual basis but does it not make sense to sort of allow a monthly payment schedule for a ‘’small’’ business like mine? They will harass you till you pay the full amount. Every time they showed up I also used logical reasoning to make payment monthly. At least, come in the evening when you can be certain the shop owner had made sales, but NO!! First thing in the morning they will show up, it was if I was being stalked. And they offered no advisory service to boost one’s revenue, they just collected fees.
In the two years, I opened my shop I never paid myself anything, neither did I pay my mum for managing the shop, We were just committed to growing the business and we did. In a few months, my shop was literally full and business was picking up slowly. Every pesewa was reinvested into the business, two years came quickly and I was proud of myself. I had built something worth growing, little did I know the biggest storm was just lurking around the corner. My landlord send me a letter three months before my initial two year tenancy agreement would expire, and it simply read………
As per our agreement, your rent expires in December 2018, please let me know at the earliest if you would like to renew the agreement, however note that the rent is increased from Ghc250 to Ghc350 (negotiable) and two years advance payment will be required. Thank you
Oh, how can one be so mean? I mean business has just picked, at least collect the same amount especially when he was aware of the many challenges I was facing on a daily basis. This is someone who has promised to support my business, we both were aware the shop is not at a prime location but we both are committed to ‘’ opening’’ up the area. Why hit me with such an enormous rent, Nyimpa y3 forkin ampa!! especially when my landlord didn’t fulfill some of his obligations to me as a tenant.
Mehn! This man brought me to ground zero, after a back and forth discussion and trying to find an amicable solution without success I closed my shop in December, 2018. Luckily for me, I was able to recoup my initial capital and a little profit. Running a business in Ghana is not easy, the challenges are far too many, but we don’t give up. For now I have put my capital in an investment and thinking through my next ‘’adventure’’. I don’t regret opening my shop but it’s been an eye opener and a learning experience for me and I am sure to bounce back in the near future.
By the way the last time I passed by ‘’my shop’’ it still had FOR RENT posted on it. Hit me up if you are interested……LOL