In her quest to provide job opportunities as well as help alleviate poverty in Tamale, a young doctor, Dr. Lavina Maame Forwah Forson, beats all odds to support young girls and women by building their capacity to start a business within the cosmetics and the beauty industry.
She has empowered many young girls to establish their businesses while equipping others with entrepreneurial skills. She narrated her journey, ambition and vision to the B&FT.
B&FT: Who is Lavina?
Dr. Lavina: Lavina Maame Forwah Forson is a young, passionate entrepreneur who believes in harnessing any opportunity available to build myself and help others. I was born in Mankessim in the Central Region. I am the first of five children, who were raised by our mother.
B&FT: What is your educational background?
Dr. Lavina: I went to Aggrey Memorial School for my secondary education and studied General Science. I proceeded to the University for Development Studies (UDS) in 2015, where I studied Medical Laboratory Science.
B&FT: What prompted establishment of the business?
Dr. Lavina: The business started in level 200 when I observed that due to the distance from town and the state of the course, most of my colleagues found it difficult to access certain items; and therefore I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to buy from town and sell to colleagues. I started selling singlets, boxer-shorts and body-splashes to my friends in class.
I tried to seek funds from elderly people I believed could help me, because initially no one believed in my vision; it looked impossible and likely to fail.
Even after school I expanded the business, and currently I can say my brand, Vina Hair Deals, is one of the new cosmetics brands in Ghana connecting manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers with the fastest delivery in the past five years. We have also been training more young girls to venture into the cosmetology industry to create job opportunities.
We sell cosmetics and human hair extensions. My products are very unique, because most of my products are of quality and affordable with ready-to-wear extensions. I do the wigs per the request of customers and supply them to wholesalers instead of importing them. Our targets are ladies, hairdressers, retailers, individuals and institutions in the beauty industry.
B&FT: Has your field influenced your business?
Dr. Lavina: My educational background has not influenced my business in any way. I had business in mind from when I was young; and so when the opportunity brought itself, I grabbed it and made good use of it. That is why I started the business at my hostel, where all products were in my room and did free delivery of the products within campus.
Though business nearly affected my academic work, I organised myself and utilised my time well. So, I was doing my wigs in my room for about five years until I had an office to officially operate.
B&FT: What is your vision for the next five years?
Dr. Lavina: In the next five years, (5) years, I would like to create an app whereby all or most cosmetics products will be available and supplied directly from manufacturers to Ghana and Africa. I would also love to be the leading cosmetics brand in Ghana with the fastest delivery.
B&FT: What were some of the challenges you encountered?
Dr. Lavina: Financial support has been my main issue. Asking for financial backing to invest in the company when you come from a country and background like mine is challenging. I borrow money from friends to invest in my business, and I pay them back as soon as I make a sale to cover the debt.
In the past, combining academics at an early age to amass money was difficult; but with perseverance, one can accomplish the desired results. To accommodate consumer demand, I used to sleep in the store.
B&FT: What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
It has not been a simple or easy road. I urge all young female entrepreneurs to never give up on their goals. They need to be persistent and hardworking. No matter how challenging it may be, make sure you finish your education. And keep dreaming big – the right people will come along. If you want to start your own business, you must cultivate discipline and commitment, as well as how to control spending. There’s no mystery; keep your goals and actions in focus, and don’t give up when obstacles appear.