Chris Koney’s column
Transitioning from an employee to an entrepreneur can be very exciting just as it can also become very difficult and challenging sometimes. We have often heard the advice from successful people time and time again: Just do it! However, this is a decision which cannot be taken very lightly as there are some tough questions one needs to answer prior to such a move.
Starting a business could sometimes be very hard and should not be perceived as a quick fix for when you dislike your job. It is about committing to a dream and persevering through the daily challenges that come with business ownership. However, we have come to know from successful business owners that when you prepare for a business venture, the better your chances of succeeding as a business owner.
Mahama Yussif is a creative, ambitious and driven young Ghanaian committed to achieving greatness in whatever he decides to do. He wouldn’t settle for less and always look for new approaches to do things differently and better. He believes in possibilities and will not rest until the goal is achieved and new targets set to ensure growth.
He has successfully made the journey from a salaried worker to becoming his own boss which was driven by passion and a desire to achieve financial freedom. Mahama is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Harmony Trends (HT), an African fashion brand which seeks to cloth and improve the looks of men, women and children with excellent, distinctive and impeccable tailored Afrocentric wears.
His clients are very successful business executives, accomplished politicians and celebrities around the world including Ghana’s current president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo; former president John Mahama; Liberian president, George Weah; former Sierra Leonean president, Ernest Bai Koroma; and Kenyan vice president, William Ruto. Others are current Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin; former Speaker Professor Mike Oquaye; Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, celebrated media personalities Kwame Sefa Kayi and Randy Abbey.
Born in Wa in the Upper West region of Ghana, his family relocated to Tamale in his formative years. He grew up in a very modest, courageous and liberal family with three siblings. His parents were public servants and ensured they gave their children the best of education. His father was a Muslim and mother a Christian, something Mahama would grow up to dearly cherish about his family, freedom of religion.
Mahama attended the Navrongo Senior High School then proceeded to the Tamale Technical University (then called Tamale Polytechnic) to read Agricultural Engineering. He gained admission to the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) to study a Bachelor of Science Degree in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
His professional career started at Foraco Africa then he moved to Olam International as Stock Manager before joining Instant Money Transfer as Programmes Manager. He was later employed at Afric Xpress as Business Development Manager. It was at this point Mahama decided to take that leap of faith and start his own business.
On what motivated his decision, Mahama revealed that “making clothes has been a childhood hobby, learning from my uncles and aunties who were designers and dressmakers. I was making my own clothes which were admired by friends and colleagues at work. I then thought to commercialize my skill and grow it into a business, which resulted in Harmony Trends. It was all about a passion which the potential to translate into wealth and become a major establishment.”
It was a tough decision for Mahama to quit his corporate job for the world of the unknown. His worried parents didn’t understand his vision at the time and tried to talk him out of it fearing it might not work out. In spite of the concerns raised by other family members, Mahama followed his passion and later get the support of his family after realizing the prospects of the business.
Around the world, all business go through some challenges and Harmony Trends is not an exception. According to Mahama “our main challenge is with financing as we want to scale up our production to meet the growing demand for our products. There has been interest from across Europe and America for our HT Afro Shirts and we need to acquire more machinery to be able to produce thousands of shirts in a couple of days. We also need the right skill training for our team as we are currently at a stage of our growth with a lot of prospects.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Harmony Trends could sell about 2,570 units of clothes annually which dwindled to 750 units resulting in over 70 percent lost in revenue. As a resilient company, they are on a recovery path and ready to bounce back to full scale operations in the coming weeks.
“We are recovering from the downside of COVID – 19 which greatly affected our operations. It took a hard hit on our sales, both local and international. For a year and half now, we have not had international production orders. During the pandemic, we had to switch from luxury kaftans to Personal Protective Equipment such as nose masks, medical scrubs and hospital gowns. We did this to keep the workforce in place whiles we wait for things to get back to normal,” he added.
On the prospects of the business, Mahama hinted on the growth and expansion agenda for Harmony Trends to become a household name and leading indigenous African fashion brand with presence in five major cities; London, Dubai, New York, Atlanta and Freetown, which is currently underway.
In his final words, he encouraged people with the desire to become entrepreneurs to make that bold step and continue to work hard and smart to achieve their dreams as business owners.
“I urge all the young people with talent and skills to put it to good use. For any country, the private sector is the engine of growth and presents us with unending opportunities. If you want to start your own business, do your research into the filed to ensure that the business succeeds. You don’t have to entertain fear, keep your focus and continue working at it,” he concluded.