A little over four years ago, I was struggling to stay afloat starting a bakery business. It wasn’t that bad but I could go weeks, sometimes a month, without a single order, with bills to pay. I needed a job to support myself and start up a business, and trust me, that little guy could completely run you dry.

I heard of Nabco and I registered to be a trainee with the hope to be a full-time employee by the end of the contract while I work part-time on my business.

Nabco opened up a great opportunity to acquire skills, network with great minds, and learn from new experiences. Juggling between developing a start-up and learning on the job as a Nabco trainee presented its challenges. However, some days were great and managing the pressure from the busy periods was good training.

I don’t know what other trainees have to say but this is my story, Speaking from a politically neutral perspective. I am telling my story from my human point of view, the emotions, the transformation, and my progress over the past few years.

I graduated from the University of Cape Coast with a degree in Bachelor of Education, Home Economics, technically I graduated as a Home Econs Madam. However, in some strange turn of events, I spent my Nabco days as a Journalist for the Adenta Information Service department. Ever got a role for a job you were never academically trained for? Then you cannot begin to understand my experience but I loved every bit of it.

As a journalist, I was given the opportunity and tasked with conducting interviews, writing stories and reports with the help of my team. Oh yes! I was made the team leader, a trainee with trainees. Lol. We subjected ourselves to be selfless and be on guard for any call for duty. Awww all for the sake of permanent work. In no time my group had been considered a reliable group, receiving accolades from our Head of the department which was an extension of his good works at the Regional office.

My role gave me the platform to network with prominent men and women, my clientele list grew. Before long I was nicknamed the Nabco Cake lady. I would wake up at dawn bake cakes and pastries to send to work, not to sell oh just to share k3k3. Little by little I started baking for my colleagues at work for their birthdays, weddings, and social events, sometimes my boss could secure some small gig from the office for me.

Things seem to be working out as I had soon adjusted my day job as a Nabco trainee and a boss at night. Then we were hit by the lockdown. Eh, clients started requesting refunds and others were canceling because no gathering was allowed but I got to use the free time to work on my business during this period. I got a few courier companies to work with ( hmm this one too has its wahala we will leave for another day, delivery guys and excuses, delay and spoilt products. It will over you. Lol). Due to the challenging circumstances and threats that COVID-19 posed to my business, I adjusted my business model, digitized payments, and the ordering process with the use of online and e-payments solutions.

My mother’s storeroom for her provision shop which I had converted into a workshop could no longer take orders beyond a certain number. Due to insufficient space and capacity, I had to outsource and give out orders to sister companies to maintain customers, the brand, and its associated goodwill. One man work. I couldn’t do all and my machines were not even equipped to handle such large orders.

Aww, the monthly ¢700 stipends I was saving ‘small small’ for my wedding lol ( just joking) I used to buy machines and tools, enrolled in a baking training school, made flyers for advertising and packaging, oh my word! But, no one told me packaging and branding was an expensive necessary evil. I would cry sometimes just seeing all my savings going into packaging. But, they will say to you, the minimum they can do is 500 pieces meanwhile I only need about 50 -100 pieces to do some one-two one-twos.

Lockdown over, work schedules back, sad face on, free time over, 2 years and some months as a trainee the realization hit me hard that the Nabco period that had been a solid foundation for my financial freedom would be over soon. This motivated me to invest more time and effort into developing my business and scaling up to remain sustainable. Although I enjoyed my work as a journalist. I loved the challenges and the experience I got from being free to work on my own business, it was satisfying and fulfilling. I grow more passionate about stabilizing and scaling up my business.

Remember the networks I built? Yeah! It paid off. I was linked to organizations and programs that supported women in business and SMEs (private entities and international donor-sponsored organizations).  I got a grant and an interest-free loan from CAMFED which I used with support from my stipends to renovate my father’s garage into a bigger workshop and training center.  I was also part of an incubation project by Foot Print Africa, a 6-month B Corp program to support SMEs to improve their Social and Environmental Impact. My team and I with our proposal won a grant to complete a biogas project that converts our food waste into gas and electricity for our production.

Solace Gyanwaa Attabra: Storeroom to studio

Looking back, I would say Nabco gave me an opportunity I will always be grateful for. I say I have come a long way as a person and as a small business owner with a team and a 3-year contract I couldn’t have gotten this far without, I  am proud to say we are looking better off than we did 4 years ago.

Now more than ever I feel a great need to give back to society.  I have started a training and start-up project,: ‘Bake them Smile’ is a project to train and support women and people with disabilities with my focus on the visually and hearing impaired as I promote Sustainable Development goals – SDGs (Goal 1-No Poverty. , Goal 7- Affordable and Clean Energy. , Goal 8- Decent Work and Economic Growth and Goal 13- Climate Action. )

We are not fully at the top yet but we are proud of how far we have come, from time to time we still solicit support to push our agenda. Our impact may not seem great but we will do the little we can as a business for Ghana and for humanity with a little push in the right direction we will get to the top together.

Good things they say come to those who wait but I think better things come to those who are passionate and put in a little effort for it. Opportunities are always knocking, I found my, and I seized every moment of it.

This is the story I am still writing, I hope you have been inspired. I will be honored if you took a quick tour on our Instagram or Facebook page at Naskah_de_cuisine. We will grow stronger and build the Nation together. I am a Nation Builder.

Thank you for spending your time with me and walking in my shoes through this journey.

*****

Solace Gyanwaa Attabra is the Executive director of Naskah De Cuisine.



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