Everyone has a different story to tell. It is the turn of Yakubu, a young man who lives at Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana, to tell his. Having no money to rent a store, and ignoring all ill-wishes from friends and relatives, he started his own business in his bedroom. Read on as he shares his journey with the B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Yakubu Bawah comes from Yeji in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. He is a product of Yeji Senior High and the Tamale Technical University, where he studied Painting and Decoration and completed in 2009.
Right from infancy, he has always been interested in doing things with his hands. He was not the type who fancied being in the corporate world. His interest has always been to own his personal business.
But that wasn’t the desire of his parents. They fancied the corporate world and urged Yakubu to pursue a career that would take him there. Despite the mockery he faced from some relatives and friends who felt it would be a waste of resources on him if he went ahead with his dream of becoming an artist and graphic designer, Yakubu remained unperturbed by such pressure and did what he felt was right for him.
So, after completing his national service he looked nowhere for job other than to set up an enterprise that would bring his dream to reality…but where?
JB’s Artwork and Graphic Design opens
As a young man who had just completed national service, it was obvious that he wouldn’t have enough money to rent a shop to start his business. But as a renowned American author Og Mandino once said: “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”. Yakubu’s determination to succeed was strong that much. So, he didn’t give up on his dream. Instead, he used his own bedroom as a shop and started his art and designing business from there.
Eventually, he was fortunate. A friend of his who bought into his idea decided to help him. He offered land for the location of an art shop and they put up a structure to work from there.
Today, the former ‘bedroom-business’ has grown to become one of the thriving SMEs in Tamale. On average, between 400 to 500 clients enter his shop monthly for his services.
Among the services he offers is graphic designing, canvas printing (drawing), and interior and exterior decorating.
How he stands out from others.
For Yakubu, the main difference between his work and those of others is its quality and his customer service.
“When I am working on something for somebody, I want to look beyond the person. I am more concerned about the public or those who will see the work. So, I make sure I do the work in such a way that both the client and the public will love what they see. If someone comes with work and chooses his colours and I feel they don’t blend well, I tell the client we should choose different colours so they can match.”
In simple language, Yakubu makes sure his designs and art come out with the utmost finesse and finishing that will appeal to the eyes of all who see them.
Mode of marketing
Referrals have been one of his main modes of getting new clients. Those who are satisfied with his work recommend him to others.
Again, he is present on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram where clients can reach him and get to see some of his products.
Yakubu has a vision of becoming the go-to artist and leading graphic designer in the Northern Region, whereby his name will be among the first to come to mind when one requires such services.
Technology is now driving the art and designing industry. Some of the modern machines needed for the industry come at a very high cost. But one major constraint facing many businesses is the requisite finances to expand. The killer interest rates of financial institutions have made it almost impossible for businesses, especially startups, to look to them for funding to buy these modern machines to work with
Another difficult situation he grapples with in the industry is the unavailability of qualified people to work with.
“Sometimes you recruit people and they are unable to deliver the way you want to. Our educational system has made pursuing technical and vocational education unattractive to many, so that has made it difficult getting the right people to work.”
How education has helped
“Education has really helped me. It has helped me become abreast with current and changing trends in the design industry. Things are fast-changing in our sector; machines are becoming more complex, and without education it will be difficult to keep up with the changes.”
The role of ENGINE
Yakubu is a beneficiary of the Enhancing Growth in New Enterprises (ENGINE) programme, and he said it has helped him with the technical and managerial skills needed to run his business.
“There were things I was doing as an entrepreneur that were not helping my business. But when I enrolled on the ENGINE programme, I was educated about it and I stopped. For example, I now keep good books which has really helped me.”
How government should help entrepreneurs?
“For me, I would say there should be real support from government to entrepreneurs. Monies should be set aside for entrepreneurs to tap into when they want to start a viable business.
“Again, taxes must be reduced for startups. Most of the profits we make go into taxes, and at the end you will be left with nothing. So, one way government should support us is by reducing the taxes we pay.”
“I will advise the youth to understand that the best way to go now is to establish yourselves after school, especially in this era when unemployment is high.”
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