Albert Einstein once said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. This saying proved true when a banker in a community in the Upper East Region of Ghana decided to solve a problem that had been created based on the prevailing level of thinking in the community. Read on as Lincoln shares his story with B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Lincoln Winimi Peedah, CEO of Neat Meat Enterprise, holds a first degree in Agriculture Technology from the University for Development Studies, Tamale; and Masters’ degree in Business Planning and Microfinance Management from the same university. He is a native of Garu in the Upper West Region but resides in Zebilla, Upper East. He is currently working at a rural bank where he has been for the past ten years.
For a banker of ten years, many will agree that he should be comfortable with his job and not look to add other jobs but rather concentrate on banking. However, in his quest to address and provide solutions to a situation that he felt was a threat to the health of people living in his community and himself, he founded a business.
Lincoln lived just behind a local ‘abattoir’. In fact, this was not like modern abattoirs found in some cities across the country. It was what Lincoln described as an “eyesore”. According to him, the animals were slaughtered on the bare-floor, simmered with smoke from car tyres, and dressed in a very unhygienic conditions – thereby contaminating the meat in the process. In fact, he says one would no longer feel like eating meat anymore if he/she saw the process meat goes through before ending up on the market.
This situation disturbed Lincoln to the extent that he decided to open an abattoir in his community that would serve them with hygienic and healthy meat.
Neat Meat Enterprise comes to life
With savings from his regular job as a banker, Lincoln put up a structure and set up an abattoir in the community. Initially, business was slow…even bad. The people had their own reservations about meat processed with a fire gutting machine that uses LPG as fuel. Interestingly, for some strange reasons, they preferred their own outmoded and unhygienic methods of processing the meat.
“There are still people who tell us they like the meat processed with car tyres because it has a nicer taste than the ones we process with the fire gutting machine,” said Lincoln.
But this didn’t discourage Lincoln and his staff; they remained focused on delivering the best service possible. They kept convincing members of the community about the advantages they would gain from eating healthy and hygienic meat, and further assured them that the abattoir had certification from the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) to carry out its activities.
Gradually, the mentality of many in the community has changed. People have now realised the essence of eating healthy, hygienic meat – and patronage of his products has soared.
Today, each week he slaughters about 500 guinea-fowls, 6 cows, and 35 goats for sale. Others in the community also bring their animals for slaughtering and dressing as well.
His clients cut across institutions like schools, to individuals such as meat sellers, and also households
The vision of Neat Meat Enterprise is to redefine meat processing in the north using modern methods which are hygienic and healthy for consumption.
One challenge that Lincoln has always faced in this enterprise is the mindset of people. There are still some members in the community who feel meat processed with car tyres and other outmoded practices have a better taste than the healthy ones. And that is hurting his goal of ending the practice of processing meat in an unhygienic environment.
Another challenge is what many businesses complain about—lack of access to long-term debt financing, which he says has impeded many businesses from growing.
Again, the fees and charges for obtaining the required and needed certificates to start this kind of business, he says, is high; thereby posing a challenge to the company’s operations.
How education has helped
“Education has done a lot for me. Because of my finance background, I am able to keep my books accurately. Again, I have gained the knowledge in managing my costs. And I feel that without my background in accounting and financing, I would not have been able to have these advantages.
“Education has also given me the needed confidence to approach people who buy into my idea, and it has led to various support for my business.”
How government can support
“I believe not everyone can be an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must have the passion for what he does. So I think the best way that government can support is to provide incubation for entrepreneurs. It is after the incubation and acceleration that an entrepreneur can effectively use the resources they have. So, for me, I think incubation and technical support is the best way government can assist entrepreneurs to grow.”
Advice to the youth
“My simple message to the youth is that they should have a broader outlook in life. They should look for a problem in their communities and see how they can solve it. Making money should not be the only motive when entering into a venture, because every business takes time to be profitable. If you are not patient with the business, it can’t survive.”
Contact: 054 997 2710