Ekow Hayford has a first degree in Business Economics and is currently pursuing an MPhil in Economics from the University of Ghana. But it is his first university which sowed the idea that will become the source of his enterprise later. Ekow’s hostel, while studying at the Presbyterian University College, was a little far from the shopping areas of the community. Ekow identified a market gap when he found himself confronted with the unusual behavior of his pens disappearing from his bag just when he made the long trip back from class to hostel. He realised he could solve this while earning a little cash for himself by buying stationery supplies in bulk anytime he goes in town and reselling at retail price to his hostel mates who found themselves facing similar issues. Noticing the same gap existed for senior high schools in the community, Ekow expanded his stock to include typical high school products like scientific calculators and started to sell to the students. This continued till he came across the Jobs for Youth application link on social media.
His application was successful, and he started the training phase of the project where he learned to fine tune his entrepreneurial vision. In his own words, he learnt to be intentional about his plans for the business. His original aims of merely earning a profit shifted a little into business building and job creation. He also learned to avoid the pitfall most budding entrepreneurs fall in, which is not learning to separate themselves from the business’ finances. He learnt the value of starting small and how to pitch his business to investors while growing his self confidence in talking about his business.
After graduating from the bootcamp into the next phase of the project (Incubation), he responded best to the targets set by the coach in finding at least one customer per week and was able to make the biggest sales of his enterprise so far during this phase when he engaged two companies in delivering stationery worth more than 2,000 cedis combined. He also expanded his catalogue from stationery items only and included books such as self-help /motivational books. He created a virtual store for his business and reached at least 20 sales in the incubation period on social media. He also had assistance from his coach on how to create business proposals which he sent around his target market for business partnerships. He is currently lobbying target offices into partnering with him to set up book stands and book fairs in their spaces. He also registered his business with the Registrar General’s department and SSNIT with the name Man-Go Stationery and Books having shed off the earlier name E.K. Enterprise to reflect his new perspective on making strides forward in life as an individual.He recounts that participation in the Jobs for Youth SME Trade festival at the end of the incubation phase brought him several customers.
Even though Ekow is 26 years and combines his final year Masters in Economics coursework with the hectic demands of the project as well as his business, he has big plans for the future and looks forward to Man-Go Stationery and Books being a household name along with the current leaders in the stationery industry.