For those who have ever lived in a boarding house at Senior High School, gari comes in very handy; especially during what students call ‘dry season’ – the period when one is low on provisions. However, eating gari raw is no option for students, as it lacks taste and is thought to have no nutrients (which is actually untrue).
This is what a young entrepreneur, Edem, saw as a business opportunity – and hence founded his startup called Gari Vibes to well-package gari and give it different flavours. Read more as he shares his story with B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Edem Nyonator is a product of Pope John Senior High School and the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a specialisation in Journalism.
According to him, the idea of Gari Vibes came to him during his second year at GIJ. It was close to end of the last semester and he had wanted to bring ‘good old days’ memories to colleagues on campus. So, having thought it through, he decided on gari – which he described as “the savior” of most senior high school students.
“If you have ever been to senior high school, you will have had an encounter with gari. And so when I thought of a campus business, gari came to mind; particularly ‘gari soakings’. But my concentration was on how to better present it with different flavours and with a different touch and feel.
“I was thinking about what I could do to bring up some memories from the past. I told my friends about the whole idea and they didn’t find it bad at all. So, I had to put my resources together toward it. On December 20, 2017, with the help of my friends, we did our first selling on campus. It was a success,” he said.
Since that day, selling ‘gari soakings’ in a special, well-packaged manner and with different flavours such as coconut, vanilla, strawberry and banana became part of Edem. This even gave him some side revenue while still in school.
He invested well in the brand, and Gari Vibes became a household name at GIJ and other university campuses including the University of Ghana, Legon. After graduating, Edem continued to work on the brand and introduced new products.
Uniqueness of Gari Vibes
“Gari Vibes stands out because of its fresh nature. It has no added preservatives. The other brands we know do not have gari in vanilla, strawberry, banana and coconut flavors. Another product we have is ‘Coconut Milk’. We also have ‘Gari Vibes Ice Cream’,” he said.
“Currently, we are available for delivery, pick-up – and even on the Glovo food app. You can invite us to your wedding receptions, birthday parties and other parties, and we will be there to serve just like any other catering services does,” he added.
Edem says his previous experience working for and with people has improved his ability to relate with clients and position the company.
“By working with people and taking courses in marketing, entrepreneurship, public relations and other topics during my time at GIJ, I have acquired various human resources and operational skills to effectively manage my business,” he said.
Edem wants Gari Vibes to be a well-known brand in the next five years, especially on most college campuses. Additionally, he wants to work on exporting the goods to other nations.
“We want to be publicly known, not just be people getting a package and moving away. But when you talk about the new trends at wedding receptions, birthday parties and other parties, we want Gari Vibes to be a menu people cannot overlook. We also hope to further invest in its branding,” he said.
Speaking on challenges, he said apart from funding – which is usually a headache for most young entrepreneurs – getting the right team members to work with is difficult.
He said: “As a start-up, from the onset you might not be in the right capacity to pay salaries; you may have people willing to help, but sometimes the motivation is just not enough for them. The other thing is that people want to enjoy the outcome, but not the price that comes with the process or the journey”.
How government can support start-ups
When it comes to assisting start-ups, mentorship is crucial and cannot be ignored according to Edem, but he added that providing the required financial support is also important.
“When you give start-ups support in the form of capital, the next question is what can the person do with it? What value can be created with it? So, if government is giving people the opportunity to own a business or start their business, aside from the financial support, mentorship as well must be prioritised. When this happens, the issue of early folding-up of start-ups will be reduced,” he explained.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
“Zig Ziglar said ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily’. I want to emphasise that there is no better approach to beginning an entrepreneurial journey as a young person than to simply start. Don’t wait for a big entrance; instead, be persistent, work hard and place your company in God’s capable hands.
“When you experience bad days, celebrate them since they are a part of your success story, your achievement. Don’t let that discourage you. Many people might not understand your idea, but don’t let that discourage you. My journey, for instance, has thought me to persevere, to be persistent, strong and resilient,” he advised.
Instagram, Twitter: @Gari Vibes