Today on Inspiring Startups, we talk to a Rubaba, a graduate from the University of Ghana – who after losing her job did not sit idle waiting until someone linked her to another, but rather decided to start a business she had been nurturing since her schooldays.
Rubaba Sule-Braimah is a product of the Aburi Girls Senior High School where she studied General Arts. Thereafter, she went to the University of Ghana and graduated with a degree in Psychology, Philosophy and Classics in 2014. Then, she continued with her national service at a communication technology company where she worked for almost three years. But, unfortunately for her, the company had to downsize and she was among those axed.
Well, sometimes a bad situation comes as a blessing in disguise. It gave her the time to pursue a business idea that came to mind a few years back when she was in university.
“I remember when I was in university I once told people in my household that I want to go natural—whatever I use on my body should be natural. So, anytime that I had any skin or hair condition, I searched online to find natural remedies. As I kept searching, I realised that coconut oil kept running through all the materials I read and watched online. So, I asked my mother to get one for me from town and when she brought it, I didn’t like it because it had a pungent smell.”
Rubaba then thought about doing her own to see if it would come out well. She got some coconuts and logged onto YouTube to watch some videos on how to make coconut oil. The results amazed her! The oil was so clear and had no foul smell. So she poured them into a small container and showed to her friends. They loved it and encouraged her to produce more, but she didn’t have the motivation from home, at the time, to commercialise it.
So, it was after she was made redundant at her job that the thought of making the business commercial came to mind, as she had all the time she needed at her disposal.
But as a serious budding entrepreneur, she didn’t remain satisfied with just doing coconut oil; she decided to spread her tentacles to other products made from coconuts.
She enrolled in the Ghana Soap School in Accra to learn how to formulate body and hair creams. Then she registered her business with the name Rudis Essentials.
Currently, Rubaba has added to her collection, lip-balms, carrot oil, hand moisturiser, and face masks, among other things.
Her main way of reaching her customers is through social media. She has accounts on Facebook and Instagram with the name Rudis Essentials, where customers can make orders or enquiries. She also attends fairs to showcase her products to new clients. Again, she supplies her products in bulk to some of the cosmetic shops in Accra.
The vision is to make Rudis Essentials a producer of all skin-care products and make it go international.
One challenge she contends with from day to day is getting the right kind of raw materials, especially, the coconuts.
“Getting the right kind of coconuts is a very tedious task. I have to hand-pick them one-by-one to make sure that they are of the right quality, or else you can be supplied a whole truck of coconuts and more than half will not be suitable for producing the oil.”
Financial constraint is also top on her table of challenges. It takes quite a lot of capital in order to get the right kind of technology and also employ people to help in production. But with limited resources she has to improvise, using the traditional manual methods of production.
How education has helped
“Education has contributed immensely to my business. Sometimes when I attend programmes and I see my products compared to others, I realise the difference is education. Through education I learned packaging is very important to every business, so I make sure that my packaging is on point.
“Then when it comes to promoting my business; I have knowledge in social media marketing so I promote them by myself.
“And even currently, I am taking training from National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) on book-keeping and other managerial skills to help me run my business.”
How important is economic empowerment of women to the economy?
“I will never stop hammering on the fact that economic empowerment of women is important. One thing that people fail to realise is that women hold the fort in all areas of our lives; so, if women are not empowered economically it affects the economy negatively.”
How government should support women entrepreneurs
“Besides the financial support government should provide for women entrepreneurs, I think they must be helped with training so that they can manage their business well. NBSSI is doing well, but efforts can be stepped-up to cover a lot more people. Aside from that, they can help in providing market linkages for entrepreneurs.”
Advice to the youth
“The corporate world is not for everybody. Young graduates should not rely on only getting jobs there. They should rather think outside the box and see what they have passion for and make it a business. Just because you are a graduate doesn’t mean you should be in an office, you can start something on your own and employ others, too.”
Contact: 024 521 3356