“My passion for sports made me an entrepreneur”....…says Abdul Rashid
If you asked many athletes what moved them to choose their profession, one reason will cut across all the responses they will give— ‘passion’.
But this time, it was different. Abdul has always been passionate about sports, especially football. But, his passion for football didn’t make him a footballer, rather, he became an entrepreneur in the area. Read on as he narrates how he set up his business, Mayniak Sports Wear, to the B&FT.
Abdul Rashid Zakari, born and bred in Nima, a suburb of Accra, is a past student of the St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High School. After his senior high education, he took a course in Chartered Marketing at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, and completed in 2009.
After school, he had a job with an advertising agency in Accra; and later worked with some real estate companies. But those jobs were not really his interest. He did it just to put bread and butter on the table. His real interest was in sports.
At a point, he thought: “why not marry my interest and background together? In order words, why don’t I combine the sports and marketing together to help the local clubs?” Then, the chance came for him to do that, and he decided to design sports kits.
How it all began
The whole idea began when he had the chance to work with the Asante Kotoko Football Club, one of the biggest names in soccer in Ghana and Africa. The club once informed him they wanted a kit sponsor. So Abdul contacted some leading names in the industry like Nike, Puma, Adidas and Umbro. All three rejected the proposal except for Umbro who decided to give him a listening ear.
However, Umbro couldn’t sign a deal with Kotoko because, at the time, it had just 8,000 followers on Twitter. So Umbro was not sure about its returns on investment and rejected to provide the sponsorship.
Abdul tried hard to find better deals that will harmonize with the club’s financial standing but to no avail. But since adversities sometimes create opportunities, Abdul devised another strategy.
Apart from the fact that it is expensive to get sponsorship from leading names in the industry, Abdul realized other challenges.
“I realized that in Ghana, most clubs do not wear kits that really represent them. Mostly, the colours do not reflect the teams’ original colour. Some even wear kits of foreign clubs. Again, the fabrics for making the kits are not really designed for the African weather.”
So he decided he will start a business which will design kits to address all the above shortfalls, hence, the formation of MayniaK Sportswear.
After producing his first design, and showing it to some of local clubs, they doubted the quality and so didn’t buy into his idea. But then again, just as every determined entrepreneur, he never gave up. He created a social media page and posted his newly made designs.
Some time passed and no club had bought his kits yet. One Saturday afternoon, as he was enjoying his football match on TV, a call came through.
“I remember the General Manager of Liberty Professionals Football Club called me and asked if I can come and show him samples of the designs of my kits. I had some of the samples with me and so, quickly, I met him and showed them to him. He was pleased and gave me the go ahead to design one for his club, and when I finished a sample for him, he liked it. Then, he asked me to proceed with production for the club, which his team also loved when I finally delivered them.”
After Liberty Professionals FC launched its kits, some other clubs from Cameroun also contacted Abdul and placed orders.
Today, his kits can also be found in Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.
For Abdul, Mayniak sportswear kits are unique, in that, they are produced for the African market. All the other kits, he says, are not tailored to suit the African weather.
The main challenge Abdul has had to battle with since the establishment of his business is the perception of people about locally made products. Many doubt the authenticity and do not have the motivation to patronize them.
“The moment you tell someone the kits are made in Ghana, the first thing they ask is whether they are of high quality”, he said.
Education’s impact on his business
Abdul’s background in marketing has helped him immensely. It has helped him in branding his products and tailoring them to the needs of the market. It has also helped him use effective and less expensive means of advertising to reach a larger audience.
Abdul has a very big vision for his business. He wants to see every African athlete wear Mayniak Sports Kits.
How government can support
He wants government to assist startup businesses with seed capital as he believes that is a major challenge that stands in the way of many young people with brilliant ideas.
He said: “Government should have some funds set aside to help build startups so that we can help reduce the unemployment situation.”
Advise to the unemployed
“Before I moved into this business, I was inspired by some other people and I learned from them. So, I would advise fellow young ones who are unemployed to chase their passion and commercialise it to become a profitable business.”
Contact Abdul on 0244521658
Correction to previous article
Last week, there was an error in the contact number we put out for Nina Efedi, the visually impaired entrepreneur. Please contact her on this number instead. (055 5556970 or 026 4701424). Sorry for any inconvenience caused.