It is encouraging to hear stories of how people quit their regular jobs, in some cases, high-paying jobs to start their own businesses. Despite the obvious challenges start-ups in our part of the world face, some have braced the odds and with determination and sheer passion, they are doing remarkably well which is truly inspiring.
But this is what I have gradually come to believe – it is not always the case that you have to entirely quit your 8am to 5pm job in order to pursue your passion in the entrepreneurship space, be it business or social. Indeed, there are so many young professionals today who are doing great things on the side apart from their regular jobs.
Here are a few people in my life who have their feet in both worlds.
Kwabena Anaafi - Gyarteng
He is a Regulatory Officer at Tigo Ghana. On the side, he is the founder of Annerlice, a men’s clothing line which was launched in 2013. He’s got an impressive clientele – Thomas Svanikier (UK), The Lord Boateng, Hugh Anthony Quarshi (Ghanaian-born British actor), Tara Squire, Sammy Forson (Live FM), Jesse Agyapong, Bright Owusu (Tigo CFO), Kelvin (MTN Hitmaker 2016) and many others.
The motivation – “I started this business because I wanted to give Ghanaian men a reason to rock our own African print designs while feeling all cool and confident and I do this by infusing the western stuff with our local stuff. Honestly, it wasn’t about the money. I love fashion and till this day, my team and I do this out of nothing but love & passion, and it reflects in our brand. But definitely, the money came in later.
How do you manage? – “It is very difficult but what I do is, I’ve made a personal decision to discipline myself very well in combining both jobs. Once I enter the Tigo office, there is no work for Annerlice; I focus on Tigo work and I do it and when I step out of the Tigo office, I focus on Annerlice. In the beginning, it was very tough but now I have a team so I don’t have to be the one attending to my clients and all of that. There is someone in charge of marketing, sales and all of that so I come in later.”
He is the Deputy Director of News Programming at Citi FM and also the founding President of iJourno Africa; a project which is nurturing Africa’s next generation of data-ready journalists. It equips beneficiaries with analytical and presentation skills required to make them more effective in their work through a combination of targeted training, networking and mentoring in the use of innovative media tools to tell developmental stories. Guess what, iJourno Africa is operational in two African countries – Ghana, Kenya and they preparing to launch in South Africa this year. Well, he ventured into tilapia farming some time back, but well... J
The motivation – “It was after having the opportunity to speak to student journalists a few times and I realized there’s a need to help. Then after chatting with friends on the continent, I realized it wasn’t peculiar to Ghana so I changed my narrow scope from Ghana to Africa.
How do you manage? – “I sacrifice extra time when I get home from work on iJourno stuff. Sometimes at dawn, I wake up to do write-ups, emails and all that as well as weekends because there’s lot of work at Citi.”
And the tilapia business? – “I believed it was a viable business venture but the people we hired to take care of the fishes were cheats.”
Caritas Aryee (Tatas)
Until few weeks ago, she was the PR and Marketing Assistant (Tigo Insurance) at Bima Ghana but she is well known for her foundation – ‘Tatas and Friends’ which seeks to transform lives of children in rural communities across the country. Through her fund raiser called ‘Kenkey for the Needy,’ she brings people together to buy and eat kenkey and the proceeds from the sale are used to fund projects. She is also the founder of Go Digital Ghana; a digital marketing company.
The motivation – “I was raised by my mother, a single parent who sometimes had to go to bed on an empty stomach just so I can get money for school the next day. I really know how it feels not to get something you really want so I developed a soft spot for people who are less privileged.”
How do you manage? – “Combining school, work, Go Digital Ghana and Tatas and Friends is one of the most difficult things. I never thought I’d be able to handle one thing not to talk of four things but I always derive the strength from the people I see and look up to and the people I’m aiming to help. Combining it has been tough so far…you get home and all you want to do is be by yourself but trust me, you’ll find yourself sleeping by a book and a pen. It all starts in the mind and how you are perceiving your next 10 years or 5 years as a young person who is trying to make it. I work from 8am to 5pm and 5pm is when my lectures begin.”
“A typical day for me is wake up, work out, get ready for work but before then, I would have scheduled everything for my team at Go-Digital. I would have done captions, editing content and get them ready to be posted. I push them to my team to put them up just so that our clients will be happy and then I would now be on my way to work. While in the troski, that’s when I work on Tatas and Friends and the traffic will save you a bit because it gives you more time to think and do a few things. I sometimes think I get more creative in trotro. I’ll speak to the different units within Tatas and Friends to get updates on our activities and operations. When I get to work, I then focus on my work. You find stuff popping up during the day and you need to give everything you are doing the attention that it needs so it’s tough.”
Phil is the Operations Manager at Citi FM and also the co-host of the ‘Traffic Avenue.’ In his spare time, he is into photography, videography, voice overs, content development, consultancy for start-ups, and a few more.
The Motivation – I don’t like being bored. In your day to day activities at work, you develop certain skills and habits so you decide that you want to pass them on to others – extend your skills to the benefit of others.
How do you manage? – It is incredibly difficult. The demands of my job is high and I still need to make time to read, research and all that. It takes up a lot of your time and personal space but you have to look at the bigger picture. In the end, it all balances out eventually.
He is the Online Manager at Citi FM and the lead Pastor at Grace Centre. Not only that, he is into social media consultancy and data journalism training. I really learnt a lot from him because he is good at what he does.
The motivation – “Jesus”
How do you manage? – “It’s a tough one. Citi takes my weekdays so my weekends are devoted fully to church stuff. My Sundays are full working days for church. I devote my evenings to church work so my church people know that they can reach me in the evenings and on weekends. Also, Citi is very supportive because they understand my work as a Pastor. If I have to leave the office for Wednesday and Friday evening service, it’s not a challenge. That’s one thing I thank God for but above all, it’s the grace of God.”
Alex Offei Lartey
Alex is the Internal Communications Manager at Tigo Ghana but on the side, he is the founder of AOL Technologies Consult. He is into website development, digital communication and social media, application software and network installation, digital imaging and graphic designing and finally IT training.
The motivation – Generally, I have an interest in helping businesses to grow through the adoption of technology. I studied Computer Science and Mathematics and so the knowledge I acquired, coupled with the skills I gained after school motivated me to set up this business in 2011. I quit my job at the time to focus on the business but I kept getting offers from corporate organizations so I joined UT Holdings and then I later moved to Tigo.
How do you manage? – All my corporate jobs have been from 8am to 5pm so I do AOL work after 5pm and on weekends. Because over the years I’ve been making time after work to do my side gigs, it has become routine. When I get home, I sleep late in order to get the job done. For me, it’s fun. Don’t see it much as a challenge because it’s exciting and I feel fulfilled when I’m able to fulfill the IT needs of companies.
She is the Head of News at Pulse Ghana. For her side business, she trades in home care, personal care, food products and oh, sometimes cars. Yes, cars. Not only that, she is training to venture into wedding décor.
The motivation – “Boredom and extra income. Décor is something I want to venture into and so it’s yet to take off.”
How do you manage? – “It is tough because for me, I trade from the trunk of my car. I introduce what I have to people and if you are interested, you make the order and I deliver. It really doesn’t affect my working hours because I deliver to clients in the morning before work or after work. If you are my colleague, it take 30 seconds to deliver since we are in the same office.”
She is a Business Development Officer (Corporate) at Syycol Limited. This lady loves to smell good and should you pass by her and you smell nice, she definitely has to give you that compliment. This love of hers drove her to venture into a side business – trading in body care products. Oforiwaa also does editing for people.
The motivation – “People always asked me [they still do] what perfume I use and where I buy my hand creams so I saw a business opportunity in there. I then contacted my sister and another friend in the US to ship down body lotions, perfumes, hand creams and body splashes from recognized brands such as Victoria Secret, Bath and Body Works, etc… for onward sale. That is how it all began. Personally, I wish everyone I come across would smell good. It will make life a bit easy wouldn’t it? I believe smelling good is a confidence booster. In the nutshell, extra income and my love for fragrances; these motivate me.”
How do you manage? – Most of my clients are friends and friends of friends so we definitely don’t meet in office settings to transact business. Mostly after work, weekends at home or in social settings. Usually, my marketing is done through word of mouth or when people see others using the products I sold to them. Most of them are my friends so it’s easy to make arrangements to get their purchases to them. When I meet them and they smell good, that is fulfillment for me. With the editing, I usually do so as and when I have time.”
Yes, me oo. I also do some small gigs on the side. Social media strategy, content creation and management for people and I must say, I have an impressive list of clientele J – Dr. Etse Sikanku, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, Pastor Joe Beecham, etc. Apart from this, I also do editing here and there for organizations such as IT Consortium Ghana, Mustard Seed Ghana and for friends and family as well.
The motivation – I fell in love with social media management during my days at Citi FM. Philip Ashon and Mawuli Tsikata taught me well. I loved reading the reactions and engagements posts I put up on the company’s social media pages generated, getting people informed and amassing support for a cause. Then I was contacted by a friend to create and manage Pastor Joe Beecham’s social media pages. At first, I thought I couldn’t do it but once I began, I loved the results and so that’s how it started for me.
How do I manage? – What I do is virtual meaning it can be done anytime, any day. I schedule posts for all the pages I manage. My mind is always running in full circle, finding creative ways to create content and engagement for followers. One of my core duties in my current 8am to 5pm is social media management so I get to spend a lot of time on the internet, researching and creating content. For me, it’s not stressful; it’s fun.
To every decision, there is a motivating factor and in this is case, it could be that you saw a social need and you wanted to help, you saw a business opportunity and you jumped right in, your passion may have led you into it or you needed an extra source of income, which is fine.
Whatever your reason may be, I say congrats for jumping right in. To all those who are into entrepreneurship full time, I say kudos for your perseverance, for creating jobs and for rendering a service to your communities and your country. Maybe, some of us will join you full time and expand the little side gigs we are currently doing.
One thing though, whatever your side gig maybe, I sincerely do hope that you do not let that interfere with your 8am to 5pm job. Give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser.
By the way, did you know Uganda is the most entrepreneurial country in the world? Well, a UK-based business networking group, Approved Index, in a 2015 study ranked Uganda 1st in the whole world.
We can get there and I believe we are getting there. Entrepreneurship is what our country and continent need and we should strive to get it right. With this, I believe that the future is bright.