The practising lawyers tell us studying and passing law is not an easy task and one needs full-time dedication. And judging from the number of lawyers who pass their final examinations at the Ghana Law School each year, as against those who enroll, there is no doubt that it requires ‘whole-souled’ attention.
But one lady has defied that logic. Although she is studying and preparing for her final exam at the Ghana Law School, that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her passion as an entrepreneur. This week’s Inspiring Start-ups features Afia Bema Banahene Asibe Osei, the CEO of BeatybyAfy – a lip balm producing budding enterprise. Read more on how her entrepreneurship journey started amid her desire to become a lawyer.
Born in Accra, Afia is the firstborn of four children to her parents: Mr. Osei Asibe and Ms. Alimatu Sardia Yahayah. She is a product of the Achimota Senior High School. Afia had her first degree from the University Of Ghana School Of Law and is currently a final year student at the Ghana School of Law.
As a to-be-lawyer, one may ask, why is she not focusing on her career and but attaching stuffs that may detract her attention? Well remember, Afia is a lady; and the law profession doesn’t necessarily erode that fact. She still thinks and cares about looking good. But she realised that most ladies give too much attention to their hair and skin, and little to their lips, except for harmattan season when the weather forces everyone to give the lip unusual attention.
“I learnt from observation, and statistics garnered that lip care is not particularly known and practised in our part of the world. The period when people’s attention is drawn to the well-being of their lips is during the harmattan season. However, lip care is more than that. In fact, it is a part of oral care and an essential part of self-care. This realisation led me into the area of lip care. The business was born out of that interest developed from the search, as well as the desire to change the status quo,” she said.
Having the passion burning in her, Afia went every mile to get this idea translated into a business venture. Having no formal education in formulating the products, Afia fell on some well-known cosmetologists to learn how to formulate the ingredients for the balm. She also took some online lessons including watching YouTube videos to add on to what she had been taught. She then produced a few samples, shared them with colleagues and the feedback was mind-blowing. For her, the positive feedback was the jolt she needed to go ahead with the business.
“Someone had a sore on the lips but using the lip balm for about three days, it was healed. It is the right solution to dry lips and cracked lips. It is very gentle on the lips. Some clients told me they liked the texture, the nice smell and the fact that it lasted longer,” she stated.
Currently, the BeautybyAfy lip balm has two flavours – peppermint and sweet almond. Preparations are well advanced to soon add new product lines such as lip scrubs, lip masks and lip moisturising oils.
“What makes us stand out is the fact that it is produced locally with local raw materials like shea and coconut oil. The prices are very competitive and affordable, with high quality assured.
“What also makes us stand out is the mindset, we want to create a system where young people in schools can work with us and get a side commission on sales they make,” she said.
In the next five years, Beautybyafy wants the lip care products to be available for sale on the market in every region of the country.
It also wants to be able to export its products to other African countries and other continents as well.
A challenge that confronts Afia is the ability to get access to the desired packaging materials she wants for her products.
“The current containers I use are not the ideal ones I want, but the option I am looking at is not readily accessible on the Ghanaian market. I have made enquiries at plastic producing companies but have found none. And if you want to import, then, you will have to deal with the interest rate and other implications that come along with it,” she explained.
Another challenge she shared is that for start-ups, particularly those who operate online, it is quite difficult and takes time to be fully accepted and trusted by potential customers when you do not have a lot of followers online. She said customers equating the quality of products to the number of followers is a problem, as start-ups might not necessarily have a lot of following although their products are of good quality.
Also, the cost of the product as against the delivery fee puts off customers, as sometimes, the latter is even higher than the former.
How government should support
Afia says beyond government providing funding support for entrepreneurs, it must put in place mentorship programmes which can further equip them as their success and progress will assist in reducing the unemployment numbers.
For her, it does not necessarily matter what the returns may be, but economic empowerment for women is important as she believes it is nice to be independent economically, and for women to be on the supporting side rather than to be supported always.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
“Entrepreneurship is a full-time work. It is not too difficult to start, but it requires discipline and resilience to sustain it. That should not put you off. Just start and determine to make it work.”
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