It is available on the market and often sold by women who will cut a piece off the lump for buyers. It’s usually wrapped in a piece of paper, or at best, a plastic bag. People have long considered it a cosmetic for the ordinary or low-income group. But one lady is changing the status quo with her brand. Her products have now made shea butter attractive to even the high-income group. Find out how Audyz natural shea butter is doing things differently as she talks with the B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Who is she?
Audrine Enyonam Aveh, though Ghanaian, was born and bred in Cotonou, Benin. Her father, however, wanted her to be proficient in the English language and so she was brought to Ghana with her mother for schooling. She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Ghana, where she studied languages with specialty in French. She has worked with a number of private firms in Accra, including an NGO that was into training and educating parliamentarians on how to use the resources allocated to them judiciously.
In time, she became fed up with the hassle and bustle of the corporate world, so she decided to quit and find something different to do with her life that would allow her to manage her own time.
The trip to the north gave her business idea
Audrine, initially, had never been a fan of shea butter. She had never used it or been interested in using it. But then she made a trip to the northern part of Ghana and saw something that wowed her.
“I was in the north on a research work during the time I was working with an NGO. There, we met farmers who were into maize production, shea butter, among others. I became particularly interested in the shea butter because I didn’t know people were so much interested in it and it could even be exported. So, I was touched by this and decided to help the farmers market it. I would buy from them and sell to others. At that time, my interest was to help market it for the farmers.”
But when she resigned from her previous employment, she began to consider it as a business she could take seriously and do it full-time.
Starting the Audyz
Audrine didn’t want to just sell the shea butter raw as is done in the market. She began reading widely about it and researching on the Internet how she could add value. Then she settled on two main ideas. First, was to repackage the raw shea butter as a part of the market that prefers it so. And the second, was to add flavour to serve the other part of the market who do not like it raw.
Making her mind up on these two modules, she started production in her own living room. The first production she made was given out freely to family and friends to test the response of the market, and the response was good. This encouraged her to go ahead with her planned production.
Now, a business that started just some few months ago can be found in hairdressing salons, some cosmetic shops, and is available for wholesale and retail from her as well. For retail alone, she is able to sell about 200 containers on average in a month.
Audrine says her vision is to expand this business into making natural cosmetic products other than shea butter. She is planning on, in the shortest possible time, adding new products from shea butter like hand cream, lip balm, hair cream, among others.
As usual, the age-old devil – financial challenges – cannot be skipped. With the vision she has for the business, a substantial amount of money to get her own factory and expand to reach that level is required – but capital inadequacy has been a stumbling block to that vision.
Another hurdle she has encountered is the trouble in getting the required certification to commence business. “It is hectic and expensive. It is not an easy thing to get in Ghana. You have to go through a lot of processes – and all of them take money.”
How education has helped
Audrine is currently studying with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK, and this has helped her in branding, pricing and communication. Without this knowledge, she says, her business would not have grown in such a few months.
How should government support entrepreneurs?
For Audrine, government must help to ease the cost and time of registering business, and getting the needed certification for it.
“I am trying to do something that will create jobs for me and others, and here I have to pay so much to get my products tested before I can sell them. So, the process should be eased to reduce the time and cost for us.”
Again, she adds, government must be strict on rent-laws so that property owners cannot get the chance to demand five years advance rent payment from businesses before they can get a shop to rent, as the situation has prevented a lot of startups from working in commercial areas which would have accelerated their growth.
“I would encourage my fellow youth not to sit idle and wait for government jobs. Ask people to help you with ideas if you don’t have them. You will be surprised what business ideas you will come up with and how someone will be willing to support you with capital.”
Contact: 024 493 3688
Facebook and Instagram: Audyz