September 10th, 2007 | Published in Google.org
Joseph Tackie is the CEO of Meaty Foods Limited, a high-end butcher in Ghana. He's also the winner of last year's Believe Begin Become (BBB) business plan competition (run by TechnoServe and sponsored by Google.org), and the elected president of the BBB Ghana Alumni Association.
I had a chance to meet with Joseph a few weeks ago in Accra, when Google.org sent me to join this year's BBB class at their graduation. He told me about the progress of his business one year since his graduation.
DC: I heard that you quintupled sales in one month after winning seed capital from BBB last year. How on earth?
JT: See, the difficulty of our environment is that no investor will give you money for basic things. They expect you to have already made it, to have already become successful before they invest. They are not going to finance your marketing. With the seed capital from BBB, I was able to create a very good billboard. That's all it took. People would see the billboard and come in and want to see what it was that we were doing. And our sales quintupled in just one month.
Three weeks ago I got my certification from the Ghanaian Standards Board. It cost a lot of money, and this is the type of thing that nobody will finance because they see you as a start-up. Now I can sell to any supermarket in Ghana.When you are a start-up, none of the banks wants to do business with you. But with a little success, now they are chasing you to do business with them.
DC: What are your future plans for your business?
JT: First, we are developing our outlets. We have one store now, we are renovating two more in middle class areas in Accra. We also have a request to set up a similar processing facility in Mali. They have lots of beef in Mali but no high-end processing.
DC: What did you learn from the BBB program?
JT: What really made the difference with the program was the networking. Because the program is organized by entrepreneurs it is very practical. They are like role models. Your anxieties are things they have experienced, so you can share with them.
Working with entrepreneurs breaks down the fears and anxieties. Issues to do with risks are minimized. You are exposed to success. A lot of people are afraid to venture because of the losses they have dealt with. But working with other entrepreneurs enables you to look forward. The obstacles will always be there, but you will be equipped to go around them.
There have been a lot of people saying foreign aid is bad. But this is different. It is like you are teaching me to fish. This BBB program empowered me.