… the story of Deryt foods
After National Service, most graduates are confident in what they can give the job market, but they are frequently unsure of what the corporate world has in store for them. This unpredictability has motivated some to consider a backup plan – a side business, or enter full entrepreneurship.
This is how Destina Mensah, the founder of Deryt Foods, became an entrepreneur. Read more as she shares her story with the B&FT Inspiring Start-ups.
Destina, the brain behind Deryt Foods, has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Before her degree, she had a diploma certificate in software engineering from Intercom Programming & Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (IPMC).
She had her secondary education at Besease Senior High School in the Central Region. Destina is also a self-taught graphic designer.
During her National Service with one private organisation in Accra, Destina, just like any other service personnel, she was concerned about what the future held for her as a young graduate. For her, joining the unemployed graduates was not an option, so she started working on ideas and trying to bring them into fruition.
In 2020, she decided to turn one of her favourite breakfasts, one that is popularly referred to as ‘tom brown’, into a business. But she didn’t just rush into it. She researched more on it from those already in the business so as to get it right from the start, and offer a unique product from those already existing on the market.
She started the business in 2020 and currently, the product has been approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
“When I produced my first batch of cereals, my immediate buyers were the people in my workplace, friends and church members. I made it my priority to get feedback from my customers, and took their feedback into consideration till I was satisfied with their recurring responses. Months later, I realised I needed to expand my scope of sales and win more repetitive buyers. This encouraged me to go for approval from the Food and Drug Authority, which I have now.
“With its unique package and taste, people find it hard to believe it is made in Ghana until I direct them to the made in Ghana write-up on the label,” she said.
Deryt foods has two brands, namely: Hoopies Cereal legume mix powder and Gobrown cereal legume mix powder.
Hoopies is made of five ingredients including rice, millet, soybeans, groundnut and wheat. Each ingredient comes with its proportions to give it a unique and milky taste.
Gobrown, on the other hand, is made of six ingredients, thus, corn, rice, millet, soybeans, groundnut and wheat.
“Deryt foods packages its cereals in a box. The product is placed in a rubber, sealed, and positioned in a sealed box. Before making such a decision, I realised in Ghana, most cereal mixes are packaged in containers or plain rubbers; I wanted to be different, hence, my decision. It was a challenging decision because of the cost involved in using a box, but I was looking at the future mass production which will bring the cost of production down and, more importantly, assure quality and safety of consumers.
“Soya beans boost the function of your digestive system, bones and heart; rice is a good source of protein; groundnut contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that keep the heart healthy by helping to lower blood cholesterol levels; millet increases energy; corn contains potassium which provides supports for a healthy blood pressure, and wheat boosts your energy level,” she said, highlighting the uniqueness of the products.
Destina wants to put in a lot of effort over the next five years to make Gobrown and Hoopies a household name both domestically and abroad, as well as to have distributors all across the country. Deryt foods also intends to add diverse food products to the existing two.
“Now that my products have been approved by the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA), plans are underway to have it on the shelves in major shops in Ghana, have more distributors, and export it as well. I had my first batch shipped overseas not long ago, and I am looking forward to greater opportunities,” she said.
One significant hurdle for Deryt foods is the funds to be able to buy the required machine for production, and bulk purchases of raw materials in order to enjoy economies of scale, which will in turn, reduce her cost.
“Until I got FDA’s approval for my product and facility license to operate, I must confess, I had lots of setbacks. I nearly gave up, but each day I identify something to keep me going. I understand that is what the entrepreneurship journey is like, one needs to be determined and hardworking,” she said.
How government can support start-up
In Destina’s view, as government outlines programmes to encourage entrepreneurship, it is key that start-ups are assisted financially, especially when funding is a major challenge to almost all of them.
Again, she said, government must also ensure that the policy decisions it makes do not hinder the progress of entrepreneurs.
Economic empowerment of women
Destina says women’s economic empowerment needs to be a top concern for all, especially in a time when every actor’s contribution to the development and the economy as a whole is essential.
She added that championing women entrepreneurship and climbing the corporate ladder encourage young ladies to contribute to nation-building.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
“My advice to everyone wanting to be an entrepreneur is to be your own cheerleader. Let your aspirations for the future make you strong and determined to overcome the present setbacks,” she said.
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