In December last year, I had the opportunity to travel to northern Ghana with two of my childhood friends who had returned from abroad for a short vacation. Before they arrived in Ghana, they told me about how much they have heard about the crocodile pond in the Upper East region and the Mole National park in the Northern region and were looking forward to touring these places.
In fact, I have lived all my life in Ghana but have never been to that part of the country. This was an opportunity for me to visit the North too. I was excited, and I looked forward to the “Weekend Getaway in the North” as they termed it!
Hours turned into days, days into weeks and soon my friends, Lorraine and Lynnette arrived in Ghana for their vacation. Tamale was an interesting town. It is a bustling city, but it also has its quiet hideaways. I enjoyed myself and the visit was worth the experience. I learnt a lot about the culture, living standards, tourist attractions. I was thrilled to see women riding bicycles and motorbikes which are the main means of transportation.
We visited the Mole National Park, Labaranga Mosque and some remote communities. We bought some stuff at the central market. Some of the souvenirs we got were the popular batakarie (smock), locally made slippers and some shea butter from a woman called Fatiah in Savelugu. Fatiah later became a friend and a business partner.
When we returned to Accra, I gave some of the shea butter to friends and family members. Some weeks later, I received good feedback and a request for more shea butter from them. They liked it so much that they were willing to buy provided I could guarantee prompt delivery. It then dawned on me that I could turn their request into a business.
Shea butter is accepted globally as a good product with people using it due to the many advantages it has. Some of the benefits of shea butter are used to nourish the skin, reduce skin inflammation, prevent hair loss, reduce stretch marks after pregnancy, soothes muscle aches among others.
As I pondered over this, Fatiah’s smiley face during our first encounter showed up in my mind’s eye. “We are in business!!” I said to myself. I gave her a call for an initial chat on my business idea. During our chat, I mentioned to her that people want her shea butter and are interested in buying regularly if she can guarantee supply.
She said if only I could become her partner we could meet the demand. She was happy about the partnership because it will guarantee her a ready market and a regular source of income as well as help her make a profit to fend for herself and her teenage son, Sulemana.
We discussed possible challenges such as the distance between us as well as the potential of one party not honouring her part of the deal (that is timely payment for the product and prompt delivery on her part, but Fatiah had the solution. She told me she can receive the money safely and securely for the order from any ATM-AirtelTigo Money agent. Wow! I knew about mobile money services, but I didn’t know that ATM-AirtelTigo Money service could reach remote communities such as Savelugu in the Northern region.
I discovered that with the recent integration and upgrade of the AirtelTigo network, their mobile money service ATM-AirtelTigo Money, has improved significantly because Fatiah has access to her wallet. Mobile money provides a platform for financial inclusion especially those in the informal sector of the economy. It is convenient, easy and safe way to transact business thereby saving time for you to focus on the most important things in your life. More so, people in our rural communities can access services of telecom operators and the many benefits that it brings.
It’s been a month now since I started the business with Fatiah and I can confidently say that I send money to her without any worries on the ATM-AirtelTigo Money platform when I place orders. This has made my start-up business very easy to run. I am very happy that ATM-AirtelTigo Money gives Ghanaians the convenience of performing basic financial transactions through their mobile phones. It’s easy, comfortable and hassle-free. Don’t let distance be a hindrance to dream business.
By Ama Amponsah