Entrepreneurship has never been as popular as it is today, especially among young people. Teenagers from all over the world are coming up with amazing business ideas and trying to succeed. Starting entrepreneurship early certainly comes with its challenges, however, it has proven to come with more benefits.
As a university freshman a decade ago, I learnt during an entrepreneurship lecture that when young people fail, they have much more time to learn and reboot, whereas people in their 40s have much less time. This means you have more chances to succeed as a young entrepreneur.
Victoria Naa Odarley Lamptey, is a 21-year-old entrepreneur and a software engineer. Born in Accra into a modest family, she is the Founder of Vlams Group of Companies, a wholly owned Ghanaian business seeking to compete on the global level.
I had a conversation with Victoria, a former student of the Accra High School and Accra Technical University graduate over the weekend. Appearing very shy initially, she will eventually get into her element when the conversation focused on her interest – entrepreneurship.
Vlams Group of Companies comprises of The VlamsMall, an online shopping platform, Vlams Rice & Fries, a home & office delivery service of rice and fried foods, and Vlams Clothing & Apparel, a cloth line company. There is also the Vlams Cosmetics and Skincare, a cosmetic line and a not-for profit organization, Vlams Foundation.
The first of three children, Victoria described herself as a self-motivated and result driven individual aspiring to become a change agent and make a meaningful contribution to people living around her and the world at large.
“Being the first child amongst three girls, I made a promise to myself to set a good example for my little siblings. I didn’t come from a very rich home but my family ensured I get everything I needed growing up and there was a premium placed on education. So having the best of education is a must for my family,” she said.
Recounting how her entrepreneurial journey started, she first learnt HTML (the Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which are two of the core technologies for building web pages at age 15.
“I remember distinctly going into the appearance/customization section of the setting page and changing the HTML to see what would happen. I purposely broke parts of the code, removing or adding parts so that I could see what each piece was doing. I didn’t use books, and I didn’t use Google. I took what was built and tore it apart to see how it works,” she added.
At age 17, Victoria decided to create online shops to make selling and buying easier which lead to the introduction VlamsMall. She later monetized it and added local payment options to create a variety to customers. Following the great feedback, she went on to create blogs for some companies then monetized them to generate traffic and revenue generation.
Victoria mentioned her parents, Benjamin Odartey Lamptey and Princess Okankai Ala as her biggest cheerleaders. She said: “my dad is my greatest source of motivation and always motivating me to push harder. My siblings on the other hand wouldn’t sleep on days I have lots of orders which need to be delivered the next day. My parents helped in advertising my products to their work colleagues and also taught me to save for a raining day.”
Narrating how she started her cosmetics products, Victoria indicated that “it all began with helping my mother to prepare the local black soap. I learnt the basics from her as she will take me through the processes, from beginning to the packaging. From there, I proceeded to learn how to add some value and also how to do whitening soaps. My passion to learn new things led me into the area of lotions and other products.”
In addition to her existing brands, she is looking at creating a platform to help less privileged ladies to build their capacity, develop their skills and learn new skills and also add value to their lives at all points.
According to Victoria, her greatest achievement is buying a parcel of land at Afienya with the support of her family at age 18 to build a warehouse in her quest to expand her e-commerce business and future projects she intends embarking on. She further detailed how she deals with competition.
“Even though there are a lot of competitors out there, that does not deter me. All I wanted was to push into the market, provide great service and make a good name for myself and the brand. I mostly use the SWOT analysis to plan the growth of my business. It’s not all about the profit so sometimes I sell cheaper than the market price just to win customers.”
Her message to her follow entrepreneurs and young people is not to allow anyone to hold them from pursuing their dreams. Once you put your mind to it, you can do it, according to her.