Inspiring Startups: COVID-19 took her job, but she started one


…the story behind Abukay Cuisine

The COVID-19 pandemic’s shock has had a significant effect on businesses, compelling many to employ strategies, including having to decrease staff hours, wages, and in some cases, laying off employees. But as they saying goes ‘in every situation, even the worst of them, something positive could emerge’. And that is what happened in the situation of Esther Owusu Nkwantabisah, founder of Abukay Cuisine, who shares her story with the B&FT Inspiring Start-ups on how she began her business. Read on!


Esther Owusu Nkwantabisah is a product of Okuapemman Senior High and the University of Ghana, where she studied General Science and Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, respectively.  She is a strong sustainable ecosystem protection supporter and is passionate about climate issues.

After her mandatory national service, Esther was working with a private organisation but ‘unfortunately’, the outbreak of COVID-19 changed the narrative about her career. And for the many reasons that could have sparked the desire to start a business, she lost her job.

She recounted that though she was selling ‘sobolo’ during her tertiary days, she had plans to start her own food-related business but only when she was financially stable. Little did she know that that idea was closer to reality than she thought?

“I had no option but to start without having the necessary finances. Though it was difficult, I’m glad I started anyway,” she told the B&FT.

It was a few months after this happened that she chanced on an acceleration programme for entrepreneurs by the Ghana Tech Lab in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation. Unsure of what the prospects were, she took a chance and applied. She got into the six-month training for young entrepreneurs. During the training, she learnt the right way to do bookkeeping, how to develop an engaging business brand on social media, and excellent presentation skills.

With lessons from her experiences, she is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to elevate her business and is currently enrolled on Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship, an eight-month programme that develops the exceptional entrepreneurial skills and mindsets of African students and recent graduates to drive social change and financial impact.


Approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), she provides breakfast services and produces natural fruit juices, frozen samosa, spring rolls, frozen meat pie, mini pizza, among others.

Having been exposed to courses like food product development, biochemistry, and food and nutrition back at university, the lessons have helped her start-up’s growth and ensured customer satisfaction.

Climate resilience

Esther’s journey can be described as a learning curve as every step of the way presents her the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship.

“What makes Abukay products different, aside from producing nutritious and healthy products, is that we’ve introduced Abukay Plastic Currency Payment Option (APCPO) which allows individuals and organisations to buy any Abukay products with used recyclable plastics. This is our little way to help reduce plastic pollution in Ghana,” she said.

She explained that the option allows individuals and organisations to buy products with used recyclable plastics. She currently has more than four recycling partners and said people are gradually buying into the idea.


In the next five years, Abukay Cuisine wants to expand its production capacity to meet demand locally, and work toward reaching the markets of neighbouring countries.


High cost of operation has been a problem for some start-ups in the present economic environment, given that production costs have skyrocketed due to inflation, cedi depreciation, and rising cost utilities.

Apart from the usual funding issues, Esther opined that finding the proper people to work with is also a struggle for many start-ups.

How government can support

To this end, she is urging the government and other organisations to step in to support the small and medium-size enterprise (SMEs) ecosystem.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

For Esther, though it’s fulfilling to run a business and to add one’s quota to solving critical issues such as unemployment, the journey demands determination, hard work and resilience.

She advised other young business owners to create a blueprint that would serve as a guide. “If at all possible, understudy, try to start small, and maybe test the waters and grow with time. Also, have mentors and network with other like-minded entrepreneurs.”

Contact details

[email protected]

LinkedIn: Abukay Cuisine

Leave a Reply