In the past 10 years in Ghana we’ve seen the emergence of fashion, e-commerce, music, and art. At the forefront of this emergence are various entrepreneurs who push boundaries and agendas. We call them the New Age Entrepreneurs.
We’re inspired by their work and bold career choices and we hope you will be too!
Our first New Age Entrepreneur is Kweku Bentsi-Enchill, COO of Kebrea Ghana Limited, Ghana’s most affordable online shop. Kweku and his partner Richard started Kebrea a year and a half ago to make online shopping convenient and to encourage Ghanaians to feel as comfortable shopping online in Ghana as they do when they shop online outside the country.
Read our interview with him below:
What was your dream job when you were growing up?
Was? It still is! Investment banking is still my dream. I’ve always wanted to, in the long term, run my own hedge fund, but it’s…I won’t say it’s wishful thinking, but there’s more hard work than I envisaged. Yes, I’ve had a few private equity jobs and I did investment banking last year so I have gained insightful experience.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I sleep from about 10pm to 2am, and then I’m fully up at 3am. By 5am, I’m downstairs and my laptop and the internet are on and I’m reading something online. I don’t like reading, but starting Kebrea has made me cultivate the habit of reading; The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Economist and a few online website likes “The iBanker” and “How We Made It In Africa”. The first call can come in from my partner by 6:30am, and the first client could call at 7:00am. I know 4 hours of sleep is not good, but when you’re broke, you can’t sleep. That’s a fact. So you always have to be on the move.
How does this experience compare with your previous job experiences?
It’s…different. In my first experience at a private equity firm I travelled all over Ghana, that’s why I fell in love with it. In my most recent experience, I was always caged up in the office crunching numbers, doing research, and doing pitch proposals. It was honestly really boring. I enjoy Kebrea because I’m always networking, engaging existing or potential clients, hanging out at the warehouses. I enjoy it for the flexibility and freedom to express myself as compared to a defined job.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
When I make sales and when my account alerts me that I’ve been credited. Because at least you know you’re doing something right. Or when you get a call and it’s “Hi, am I talking to Kweku? Oh, I was referred to you by so so and so,” and you know that at least, the word is getting out there and you’re making the sales.
What do your parents and other family members think about your job?
Setting up a start up in Ghana is hard. There’s no information, no resources, and no access to anything. Your own parents won’t trust you for a long time. They were both skeptical. I think right now they’re more…for want of a better word, appreciative. They used to say, “This can be a side business, enti k) p3 adwuma 9-5.” But I said “no, I’ve done the best I can. I’ve gone for my interviews, I’ve written all my tests, I’ve done everything, but did not make the final grade.” at the end of last year I decided if I do not get my preferred job I would focus more on Kebrea and its paying off gradually.
Recently, I was having lunch with my dad and his friend, and his friend asked me “So Kweku, what are you doing?” Out of the blue my dad said, “oh, he’s a CEO.” On a regular day my dad have said, “bisa no, bisa no. 0no na 0se 0y3 ne nne3ma no.” So I was very surprised that my dad actually said that. It took him a year and a half to finally acknowledge what I do, but I was happy nonetheless
What is it like managing a start-up?
Managing a start-up disciplines you. It’s a lot of work, it requires a lot of patience and dedication, and it comes with a lot of disappointment as well. Discipline-wise, it keeps you in check. You don’t have a 9 to 5 business, so you could decide to start work at 10 and close at 12, or start at 6 and close at midnight. It all depends on how much you have to do for the day to earn your money. But you have to discipline yourself and know that this is your baby, and no matter what you have to protect it. If you want to be laid back and run it down, that’s on you. Disappointments are everywhere, from suppliers, to investors, to even your own clients. Sometimes investors will tell you that a deal is done, but then when you go to their office they start giving you stories.
The thing about being a start-up entrepreneur is, you have to look past the disappointments and forge ahead. You can’t afford to dwell on your disappointments, or you’ll be stagnant. So you need to think beyond the negatives and disappointments.
Do you have any advice for someone that wants to be part of e-commerce in Ghana?
Start now! It doesn’t have to involve with gadgets; it could be anything. Do not limit yourself. Kebrea started with gadgets, because we knew that’s what would catch on. We’ve expanded our network of suppliers to include fashion, watches, shoes luxury bedroom fittings, sanitary wares and PVC pipes for construction.
If you look around at what’s going on in the country–banks are moving to cashless systems, the Bank of Ghana is trying to encourage everybody to use an e-Zwich card–you can see where the government’s focus is. And if you’re able to position yourself well, you’ll be benefiting 3-5 years from now. You don’t want to miss the bus and have to chase after it.
It’s April 24, 2021. What’s life like at Kebrea Ghana?
In 5 years, Kebrea Ghana is going to be hosting workshops for entrepreneurs. We’ll have our own warehouses throughout Ghana. We’ll have set up a venture capital fund to help other start-up entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, so that we can help fund them to develop their ideas. The Kebrea retail section of our website will look like Amazon’s site, I believe we can even rival Amazon by 2021. It won’t be easy, but we’ll get there. God willing.
Any final thoughts?
My final thoughts go out to your readers: keep on striving for what you want. It’s never easy. If I had known it was going to be this hard, I’d probably have run back for a job! But I keep going because I love it. Yeah you will stay broke for some time, but once you make that breakthrough, and once you get that structure down, everything will just fall into place. Keep building your brand, keep on developing yourself, keep networking, and do your best to stay in people’s thoughts and on their minds. My dream is that when people want a product, Kebrea Ghana is the first place they go to.
Follow up with your clients by calling, having meetings, having chats and sitting down with them often. Maintain your social media presence and take advantage of email and digital marketing. Be consistent, be honest, be trustworthy, and be diligent. Go all out! If someone asks for something, do everything you can for them. Once they trust you, and once you build that relationship, they’ll always come back to you. Be prayerful as well. There’ll be problems here and there, but you need to remember to seek God’s favour all the time. Let Him guide you and point you in the right direction. Let Him take control, and things will work out for you.
By Hacking Adulthood
Kweku is a graduate of Regent University College of Science and Technology holds a BSc. in Banking and Finance with French. He has gained experience in the financial sector, in Operations Management, Insurance, Private Equity and Investment Banking, whiles working at Gold Venture Capital, UT Bank, Enterprise Life Insurance and Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited.
He has a rare gift of managing businesses through excellent customer service relations, strategic and tactical business planning.