Inspiring start-ups: Richard Arthur ...how his love for yoghurt gave him a job
Can you imagine your love for a particular product inspiring you to find out how it is prepared and eventually taking it up as your business? That is what exactly happened to Richard Arthur after he visited a friend who happens to be a yoghurt producer. Have a read.
Richard Arthur, born in Mankesim in the Central region, is the CEO of Novel King Ventures, a producer of yoghurt. His family moved to Tema when he was very young and so he spent all his early years there. His basic education was at SDA Community Six Basic School.
He moved on to the New Juabeng Secondary Commercial High School (NJUASCO) at Koforidua where he studied business and completed in 2008, and furthered his education at the University of Cape Coast, graduating with a degree in Hospitality Management.
After university, he was posted to the Kaleo Senior High School in the Upper West Region for his national service. Fortunately for Richard, he didn’t suffer to gain a job. He landed his first job in Tema just a month after the service.
How he was inspired to be an entrepreneur
Richard is a big fan of yoghurt. Once, he visited a friend in Winneba, Central Region, who is into yoghurt production. He became impressed with all that he saw and so he decided to try making some for his own consumption.
In time, people around him (family and friends), began to like it and that gave him an idea to go commercial.
“I realised that people’s interest in my yoghurt continued to increase and then I said to myself: why don’t I produce this on a large scale and sell it to them? So, I started producing and selling to my church members and the results were fantastic.”
In June 2016, he registered his business and decided to go officially commercial.
How he started
Because his family was already interested in his new business, they supported him in setting up. His mother and aunts gave him some of the materials such as ice chests, bowls and other accoutrements needed to start the business. Then, with a table-top fridge he brought from the university, he began his business with just GH?200. The stage was thus set for the beginning of his favourite drink to hit the market.
Initially, he began with vanilla and strawberry flavours. Currently, the business has been received well by customers, and that has urged him to introduce other sumptuous flavourings, including lime, vanilla millet, vanilla wheat, pineapple, strawberry millet, and strawberry wheat, which have all been well patronized.
He now has agents who sell the products on commission terms.
His main mode of advertisement is through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the like.
How his products stand out
Richard is very aware that there are quite a number of yogurt products on the market. He has, thus, developed some strategies that make his products stand out.
“We always make sure that we acquire very fresh milk for our products, and also make sure that we are producing under very strict hygienic conditions. Our flavours are also natural. For example, our banana flavour is made of fresh banana fruits rather than using artificial flavourings. So, when you taste our yoghurt, you feel it is natural.”
The present state of his business
Even though the product is not yet available in all parts of the country, it is making impressive strides, as he now makes supplies at some major conferences in the country and other social gatherings like weddings, parties etc.
It has not been an easy road for Richard combining his entrepreneurial exploits with his main job. Sometimes, he wakes up around 2.00am and prepares the yoghurt. Then he gets ready for work by 5:00am. At other times, he works late into the night in order to keep up with orders.
Beyond the physical stress, he is not immune to the main challenges facing small businesses in the country, especially, in the area of capital.
“Presently, am not even able to produce at full capacity. Customers are demanding more but I can’t produce to meet demand. And it is all because I don’t have the financial capacity to do that.
I remember once, I went to the bank to inquire of a loan and just hearing the interest rate just put me off.”
How education has helped him
Richard has a degree in hospitality management and he believes the programme has contributed immensely to the strides the product is making in the market. The programme has helped him adopt strict hygienic practices in preparing his products and making them very safe for consumption.
Another help, he thinks, education has offered him is effective leadership skills that has aided him in man management. He is able to relate well with his customers and employees in a way that makes them have a sense of endearment to the company.
Richard has the vision of expanding his business to make it one of the preferred refreshment products in the country and eventually export to other countries.
For that reason, he is open to any investor who wants to partner him drive this expansion agenda.
How government can support
The first area he believes government should support entrepreneurs is to assist them with long term capital that is cheap and can easily be accessed so that small and medium businesses can thrive in the country.
He maintains that this is very important considering that interest rates in the country are too high for small businesses to be able to borrow from the banks to carry out their expansion projects.
Advice to the youth
“I would advise my fellow youth that after school, if they don’t find jobs, they shouldn’t sit at home and wait to get jobs, but find a need they can satisfy in the economy and use it as a business.”
Richard would like to also acknowledge the contribution of some people who have helped him in this enterprise.
“I want to thank my family, especially my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur and my uncle Mr. David Oko Lartey of Oko Motors, Tema, who has been my personal financier in times of need. I also want to say a big thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Koomson [family friends] for their tremendous support; and my church.”