It is common in our schools for teachers to assign students tasks that will give them hands-on experience in the programmes they are studying. This helps the teachers ascertain the students understand the topic or not. For some students, such opportunities afford them the chance to unearth their potential and harness them.
A typical example is the business-minded Josephine Aku Selorm Gator, who turned her task into a business – “AkuSel Juice. This has been her employers after school. Read more as she shares her story with the B&FT Inspiring Start-ups.
Ms. Josephine Aku Selorm Gator, who will, henceforth, be referred to as Selorm in this article, holds a Bachelor Degree in Communication Studies (Journalism) from the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). Selorm describes herself as a very driven, resilient and an optimistic person.
While in school, Selorm’s entrepreneurship lecturer, after teaching them the various marketing strategies, tasked the class to come up with virtual businesses and illustrate how they can employ the strategies to promote and sell their brand and product to score marks.
So Selorm, someone who always assists her mother, a nutritionist and a part-time caterer, decided to present a local beverage business idea.
“The project demanded we visualise and put everything on paper for marks. When the results came, I did so well, I even had an ‘A’ in the course. That result pricked my conscience; I was sure I have passion for this. I was sure I had a potential that I had not really taken time to realize.
After the ‘Entrepreneurship Challenge’, I decided to start it as a campus business. Colleagues who tasted the juice, gave me great and positive feedback and started placing orders.”
So AkuSel Juice became a food and beverages outlet which started in 2018 as an entrepreneurial assignment. The focus, at the time, was to promote good health and wellbeing on campus through healthy foods and beverages without additives. In 2020, new additions were introduced to improve the brand and growth of the business.
“My mum being a nutritionist and a part time caterer, added on to my motivation to start this food and beverages business because I was getting free education and skills on all the nutritional values of foods and how to keep them intact and the amount your body needs. I wanted to do something for myself, something I could call my own and grow up with,” she added.
After her national service, Selorm took the bold step to self-employ herself and channel more efforts into expanding her business. Currently, she produces the juices and sells them to clients for their events and even to serve their visitors.
The uniqueness of AkuSel Juice
With the slogan “Drink Healthy, Stay Refreshed” and “Eat Healthy, Stay Refreshed” AkuSel focuses on promoting good health and wellbeing through healthy foods and beverages.
AkuSel Juice produces beverages such as Tropical, Gingerpine, Pineapple, Mangopine, Pineorange, Beetroot, Millet drink, Ginger ale (Tigernut), Cocopine Cream, Soya Drink, Yoghurt and others.
Products under “Go green and wellness” categories include Health Green (Spinach, Pineapple, Apple , Cucumber and Lemon); Boost Juice (Carrot, Apple and Ginger) ; Belly burn (Cucumber, Apple, Ginger,Pineapple) ; Sweet Dande ( Dandelion, Mint, Apple, Pineapple) ; Sweet Greens (Celery, Parsley, Mint, Pineapple, Apple and Cucumber) ; and MelonBeet (Watermelon,Ginger, Mint and Beetroot).
AkuSel also produces local beverages such as sobolo, samia, zoonkoom and others.
“What makes my product unique is that before a new product is introduced, I make sure that a thorough research is done on the health benefits, the side effects as well as probing further to know the conditions of our client before juicing for them. We have products that suit everyone’s needs. Babies from six months and above are not left out because they need these vitamins to keep them in good health. I make fruit juices which I call the fruity sip and go creamy. I do vegetable juice (go green and wellness juices). I do customized juices as well.
My aim is to leave that lip a smacking taste that makes you come back for more. I always maintain a good relationship with all my clients and potential ones,” she said.
How education has helped
Selorm said her educational background has helped to better position her business.
“I have combined my communication skills, marketing and entrepreneurial skills, all of which I learned in school to push my business this far. Like I said earlier, this whole business started as an entrepreneurial assignment,” she noted.
In the next five years, Akusel Juice wants to be one of the known local beverage brands in the country and beyond. She intends to have her own food and beverages outlets that people can walk in to enjoy as well as employ more hands to expand the business.
Selorm believes that she needs to impact other young girls with her idea, hence, would love to plan to train youngsters.
“My major challenges are not having enough human resources. Adequate equipment to facilitate the process. Permanent Space designated for the business and enough capital investment. lt is not easy sustaining it because a lot of people are into food and beverages business but I am not worried about competitions, all I wanted is to focus on building a solid foundation for my business that will eventually be one of the leading food and beverages producers in the world in some years to come,” she said.
How government can help
She said as government outlines programmes to encourage entrepreneurship or support start-ups, it needs to take keen interest in what measures it can employ to make them feasible.
Again, she said, government must also ensure that the policy decision it makes does not hinder the progress of entrepreneurs, particularly those taking advantage of the technology and fintech to transact their business.
She cited that, for instance, if the E-levy is introduced, it will affect a lot of startups because most of their monetary transactions are done through mobile money.
“So imagine if your client has to be taxed and you the owner you’re also taxed on the same business, it’s going to bring a lot of businesses to a halt because you don’t expect a business owner or a client to be traveling distances to make payments. It becomes inconvenient,” she said.
Nominated for Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Food/Catering Service of the Year, and Family Business of the Year, Selorm won the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the maiden edition of the ‘Women in Entrepreneurship Awards’ (WIEA) held in Accra.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
For Selorm, one thing is paramount, that is, identifying who you are as an individual and harnessing your potential.
“People jump into whatever they see, especially when they realise others are doing it and seeing results. But what I will advise is that potential entrepreneurs must have passion for what they want to do and be dedicated.
Because I was business minded, I had a lot of people advising me on what business I should do, a whole lot of them. But because I have passion for this, I settled on AkuSel Juice. When my mother gets orders, I help her with the juice and dedicate myself to it. I have realised that, aside hard work and dedication, having passion for the business, keeps you going, because every business face challenges and your passion will keep your head up regardless,” she said.
Contact: 026 997 4136
IG – akuseljuice
Facebook – AkuSel