The graphic design industry is largely dominated by men in Ghana. But two young women—Baaba and Araba—are telling the world that, indeed, what men can do women can do better. Together, these ladies have set up a company that is shaping the art of designing in Ghana. So far as it involves anything paper, they are there to blow your imagination. Read on as Baaba shares their story with your favourite column in the B&FT—Inspiring Startups.
Babara Baaba Nyarko, born and bred in Tema, Greater Accra Region, is a young graphic designer who is a product of the University of Education, Winneba, with a degree in Graphic Design having graduated in 2014.
Baaba is a born designer. From childhood, she had always been interested in drawing and making crafts with pieces of paper and gifting them to her siblings and friends. Realising that it was a natural talent, she joined a creative art club in junior high school which she followed up by studying graphic design at senior high school.
And during national service at her alma mater, she together with her friend Joanna Araba Mensah decided to do a chocolate package made of paper for Valentine’s Day. That was how the whole business idea started.
Blue Kraft GH on the move
After getting good positive feedback from friends, they decided to start the business full-time. They registered the business in June 2016 with the name Blue Kraft GH and set up in the home of Baaba. Araba takes care of the company’s administrative work while Baaba does the designing.
When they were set to begin the business, a friend of theirs who lived outside Ghana offered to buy them some simple tools to start with. Shortly after getting the tools, they had their first consignment. A member of their benefactor’s church contracted them to design and print wedding invitations for him.
Since then business has been good, as many orders have come their way—some of which are from big companies.
Last year, they got an order from the Beige Bank when it was about to launch its new name.
Again, they have also got contract from one of the largest breweries in the country.
They have moved from designing customised wedding invitation cards to other accessories – like fans, paper-bags, boxes, engagement envelopes, and wedding programme booklets.
What makes them unique from other designers, Baaba says, is their competitive prices and quality of products. She says that even though they offer very high-quality products with stylish finishing, they come at a relatively cheaper cost than those available on the market.
Furthermore, they engage clients and discuss with them what product would best suit them given the event at hand, rather than just sell anything to the customer.
Mode of marketing
As the saying goes, quality sells. Baaba says the quality of their products make them sell themselves. Once they supply an order, it creates ripple-effect – other orders come from people who find the products unique and appealing.
And, of course, social media is another mode for sending the message out. They have accounts on Facebook and Instagram with the company’s name, whereby clients can make orders and check pictures of some of their products.
Blue Krafts GH has a vision of being the top paper-craft company in the country, whereby it will have the capacity to compete with foreign companies.
For a design company that strives to be the best, Baaba says one challenge that comes with it is having to, sometimes, roam the whole of Accra in search of materials to match the preferred colours of clients. Some of the colours, she said, are not readily available on the market because they are not common.
Again, another challenge she shared with us is the lack of appreciation for efforts designers put into their work.
“People think designing is easy and it is nothing that should be expensive. So, when someone brings a contract and you charge they tell you it is expensive; meanwhile, our charges are far below the market price.”
How education has helped
For Baaba, education has been of immense benefit to her – in that she didn’t just rely on her natural talent but decided to take a course in graphic design so as to be a professional in the field she chose. With that knowledge, she is able to design in a way that ensures the colour-combination and every material used are on point, giving the final product a perfect finish.
How important is the economic empowerment of women?
“Economic empowerment of women is very necessary for the country. Women are good at multitasking and so every woman should find something doing that can earn her income to support the family. Women should not always rely on their husbands to take care of the family.”
How government can support
Baaba said most of the products they use are imported, and that makes the cost of producing quite high. So, she wants government to, at least, reduce the import duties on some of the products so that the prices at which they are sold can be reduced.
Again, government should make it a policy that all startup businesses do not pay tax.
“Recently, I went to GRA for tax clearance and they told me I would pay GH₵500 per quarter. How can a business of this size pay this money when big companies are given tax holidays? So, I think there should be a policy that relieves all startup businesses for some years.”
“Business is not an easy task if you want it to be successful. So, my advice to budding entrepreneurs is that they stay focused and surround themselves with like-minded people who will encourage and help them.”
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