Esther Ama Arthur-Don …“I resigned from teaching to sell honey”
Ama Arthur-Don, born 12th April 1986 in Accra to Mr. Kofi Takyi and Comfort Gyamfi, is the seventh of eight children.
She attended Odorkor 1 Junior High School. After completing, she took a course in catering at the National Women’s Training Institute, Madina, Accra. She then topped up at YWCA in Accra and completed with a certificate in Catering Stroke Two.
She furthered her education at the Kumasi Polytechnic and completed with a certificate in Catering Stroke one in 2008.
One may wonder why Esther was so interested in pursuing a course in catering. Well, it is because from infancy, Esther had a dream of becoming an Air Hostess and was advised to study catering to better her chances of landing a job with any airline company.
However, to realise that dream, she had to take a course in aviation to groom her for the etiquettes of the job. But Esther could not continue as there was no money at home to fund her education. Her father could no longer engage in any energetic activity because he had aged. That financial constraint ended Esther’s dream of giving airline passengers a touch of her treat. She then embarked on a new journey in life.
A new profession
Esther swapped hosting passengers in a plane to hosting pupils in the classroom. She got a job as a teacher in a private school in Accra. In view of her background in catering, she opted to teach Home Economics. And yes, she excelled. Her students constantly completed with excellent grades after their final basic examination.
Even though Esther loved her new profession, she had to quit after four years. Why?
She explains: “I loved the teaching job and I was enjoying imparting knowledge into the children. But the salary was too meagre. By the time I am done deducting all my expenses for the month, I would be left with nothing.”
By then (in 2014) Esther was married to Kuuku Arthur-Don and was close to labour. So together with her husband, they made a decision that she quits her job and find something else to do. But that would be after she was delivered of the baby. Thankfully, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Araba Arthur-Don.
The birth of the honey business
After taking about a year’s break to cater to the needs of her family, Esther’s husband discussed with her to find another business that would still afford her the time to take care of their young girl.
So she first decided to enter into the fashion sector. She began selling men’s suit. But she realized that it needed huge capital as she had to import the suits. So once again she called it quits.
Then she moved into selling fabrics but the same issue of inadequate capital stifled her. Esther now had to think of another business that would require little capital to start with.
As she continued to ponder on what job to do, an idea came to mind. She realized that there were increasing concerns about the implications of high consumption of sugar on the health of people. She saw it presented a business opportunity she could explore. Then, there came the idea of selling honey.
Honey is touted as the best replacement for sugar with many health benefits. So Esther decided to make enquiries about how and where she could procure large quantities to sell.
But consumers of honey are concerned about one threatening situation—adulteration with harmful chemicals. So Esther had to make sure the honey she sells is the best quality. What did she do?
“I began asking people who really know and can identify genuine honey if they see it so that I would not be tricked into buying adulterated honey. I also asked which village I could really get wholesome and genuine honey. So with that information, I went to the village and bought one ‘kuffour gallon’ of the honey and brought it to Accra.”
Before she went to the village though, Esther sampled opinions of family members and friends if they would be interested in the product. The answer was positive as many were enthused by the health benefits honey will offer them ahead of sugar. She had 15 customers who were ready to buy the product readily. Even though one might consider 15 customers to be discouraging, Esther was rather encouraged by the number as she believed that it will increase in the shortest possible time. And true to her conviction, she now has many customers requesting her honey.
One thing that has become the strength of Esther is her background in catering. The catering course trained her on food hygiene and safety, and so she employs very strict hygienic conditions in bottling the honey.
She also does personal delivery of the honey to customers wherever they are.
Esther has the vision of having ‘Ewo Pa,’ which translates to ‘authentic honey,’ across the entire country and exporting it to other countries in the next five years.
With the vision of exporting Ewo Pa, Esther obviously needs a lot of capital. She has to be able to supply large quantities of her product before she could qualify to enter the export business. But with her meagre capital, it has become difficult for her to do so.
“I once spoke with someone involved in export business about my intention to take my product outside. But the quantity he requires is too much for me now. I don’t have the money to do it,” she said.
Apart from needing adequate finance to expand the business, Esther said another hurdle small businesses like her own have to jump is the too many bureaucratic bottlenecks involved in obtaining licences needed for progressive business operations in the country.
In all, she is confident that the Ewo Pa brand would surmount all these challenges and thrive to become one of the successful start-ups in the country.
-Source: Obed Attah Yeboah