Chris Koney’s column: Ruth Borteley Bortey, Melbs Saucy Foods CEO, is revolutionising the kenkey business


When you have a specific goal in mind, it helps to have a system in place that can help you achieve it more efficiently. Setting and achieving goals is an important element of career development. Understanding how you can reach your goals can help you to advance your career.

“It is important to stay determined even when it feels difficult. Assess your goals and decide if you can commit to achieving them by taking the necessary steps. Focus is also important when striving for success. Focus on your goals and why you want to achieve them to keep yourself motivated and reaffirm your commitment.”

Those were the words of Ruth Borteley Bortey, the young enterprising entrepreneur behind the popularly Butter Kenkey (Ga Komi). The self-motivated lady who hails from Nungua in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana believes her purpose on earth is to be a change-maker. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Melbs Saucy Foods, which is revolutionising the kenkey (Ga Komi) business.

It is incredibly important for us to recognise that life does indeed happen sometimes, which simply means that we may encounter situations in life that are beyond our control. Such experiences may leave us feeling helpless or anxious with emotions that we may not yet know how to process in a healthy way.

At nine months, when she started crawling and yet to firmly raise herself to sit, a tragedy struck her family – she lost her dad, the breadwinner of the family. Left with no other option, her poor mother, Agnes Borquaye, had the scary task of raising her only daughter all by herself with proceeds from her kenkey business.

Life they say is not a bed of roses, rather a journey through rocky roads; and according to Ruth, one ought to watch every step he/she takes as it may either result in pain or comfort in the long run. With all the ups and downs in her life, she admitted that it seemed impossible at a point to go on with life. However, with the support of her mum, whom she considers as a pillar and her life support, she rose through it all to get a tertiary education.

“We all must accept the fact that fortunes and misfortunes are both part of our lives. We must embrace the reality that nights are the darkest before the sunrise. All we need is the strong belief that all our problems are temporary. All the darkness is just here for a short time; it will soon come to an end and we will be able to praise and enjoy the sunlight again,” she elaborated.

After elementary school, Ruth attended the Presbyterian Senior High School in Teshie – Accra for her High School education and was a General Arts student. She then proceeded to the Data Link Institute of Business and Technology to pursue a degree programme in Human Resources Management.

She graduated with high hopes of getting employed by a multinational company to start her career, but that was not the case unfortunately. Having a degree is a distinguishing factor when applying for a job and serves as a signal to employers that you have acquired technical skills and academic knowledge in addition to your ability to follow through on a goal and tasks.

Ruth indicated that being a degree holder is certainly not a guarantee that you are going to get a flying job. “Have you wondered about the percentage of university graduates who get jobs after they graduate? From my experience, getting a degree does not automatically mean that you are guaranteed a job, though it certainly plays a large role in finding employment. Your ability to find a job upon graduation sometimes largely depends on some variables. Securing a job after college is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” she further explained.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade! In her desperation to find unavailable jobs, she decided to make a business out of her passion, cooking. From her formative years, she had been assisting her mother in preparing kenkey and was very conversant with the dynamics of the business. After consulting her mum, she was convinced the best way to go is to bring her knowledge to revamp and give their kenkey business a new phase.

That was the genesis of Melbs Saucy Foods, heavily driven by social media. Ruth revealed the first two years were very challenging as she made some mistakes due to her lack of planning and preparation before setting up the business. However, she eventually learnt from her mistakes which resulted in a turnaround for the business – from financial viability to growth, to operations.

“Starting a business requires a lot of planning, hard work, and dedication. It also involves taking risks, making difficult decisions, and dealing with financial issues. The first step in starting a business is to come up with a great idea and have a sustainable plan. As a first-time entrepreneur, it is unlikely you will know everything about running a business. A lack of knowledge can lead to avoidable mistakes that could cost your business money. You will also need to overcome enormous demands on your time and energy setting up a business,” she added.

To transform the business, she thought to focus on the experience she will be giving to her clients. Her clients were the heart of the business and she tried to make them happy with quick and unique services.

“Up to date, I ensure that whatever my customers buy from me is worth more than the money they are paying, and we give them a great service as well – from taking their orders to the delivery guys who send their orders to them. Beyond serving them very healthy and delicious food, it is also important to see them happy, that is when they will come back to order more and also recommend the business to other people,” she emphasised.

At Melbs Saucy Foods, you can order your ‘Butter kenkey’ with fish, chicken, shrimps, egg, pork, octopus, turkey, all cooked under hygienic conditions and delivered to you in neat and attractive packages. She believes in excellence and brings that to her business.

According to Ruth, her philosophy in life is to never give up in spite of the challenges and circumstances she finds herself in. She said: “The challenges were enormous when I started the business; however, I have tried to find solutions rather than complain about them. I have a plan to grow the business into an empire and these are the necessary steps to take to achieve that. We have come a long way and it is not the time to look back”.

Her advice to her fellow young ladies who have passion for cooking is to develop it and make it another source of income even if not full time. “We are sometimes led into doing certain things which are not necessary to our growth and development. I will urge all my fellow young ladies to keep their focus and do their best wherever they find themselves; it is certainly going to pay off when you put in the work and work smart as well,” she concluded.

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